By Tim Jackman
More than 140 young golfers braved temperatures in the mid-90s to compete in the Drive, Chip and Putt subregional qualifier Wednesday, July 27, at Château Élan Golf Club in Braselton, Ga. Golfers from Alabama, Texas, Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee came out to compete in the second of three qualifying stages for the Drive, Chip and Putt Championship. The top-two boys and girls in each age division advance to the regional qualifier at Pinehurst Resort in North Carolina. From there, they will try and move on to the Drive, Chip and Putt National Final at Augusta National on April 2, 2017, the day before the Masters Tournament.
In the Boys 7-9 division, Patmon Malcom of Alpharetta, Ga., took home the top spot after winning the driving and putting portion and finishing second in chipping. His short game was particularly effective when he dropped his 30-foot putt and gave an excited fist pump.
“I started doing the Drive, Chip and Putt two years ago,” Malcom said. “This is my first time advancing past the sub-regional and going to Pinehurst. I’m looking forward to having fun at Pinehurst and having the chance to go to the Masters.”
He was quick to add that he isn’t getting too far ahead of himself.
“I would be happy if I made it to the Masters, but right now I’m happy that I get to go to Pinehurst.”
Malcolm may have a future in golf, but that isn’t the only thing he is counting on. He is also an accomplished violinist and pianist and uses that to his advantage.
“Outside of golf, I like to play my violin and piano,” Malcom said. “I’m pretty good with my instruments and I like playing them. That’s how I wind down after golf.”
Christian Williams of Tallapoosa, Ga., competed in the Girls 14-15 division and is playing in her third Drive, Chip and Putt Championship. She didn’t quite make the cut to move on to the regional, but she did finish third in the putting portion, and she is still pursuing her ultimate goal.
“I like to play other sports outside of golf too. I do basketball, cheerleading and track. Basketball and golf are both of my favorites. I’m the best at golf though,” Williams said. “My dream for golf would be to get a scholarship to the University of Alabama.”
Elizabeth “Libby” Woodham of Birmingham, Ala., competed in the Girls 10-11 division for a chance at Pinehurst.
“My favorite part of today was the driving and being with other people,” Woodham said. “It’s always fun to come out and try to do my best.”
For Woodham, family is just as important as playing golf and winning. Her mom, dad and even her younger sister joined her at the course.
“My favorite thing to do besides golf is to spend time with my family and to play basketball.”
After the competition was over, she came up short of moving on to Pinehurst, but she was ok with that, stating that having fun was more important than winning.
Owen Doherty of Alpharetta, Ga., took part in the Boys 14-15 division and is also playing in his third Drive, Chip and Putt Championship. Last year he made it to regionals; this year he was disappointed that he did not advance to Pinehurst, but despite not moving on, he still kept a positive attitude.
“My goal was obviously to get to Pinehurst, but I just wanted to come out and be consistent with my shots today,” Doherty said. “Either way it’s great practice for me.”
At the end of the day, there were some big smiles and many participants who left with more motivation for next year’s qualifiers, but a consistent theme throughout the day was fun. Whether it was hanging out with friends, getting in good practice or receiving a medal and advancing to the next stage, nobody walked away empty handed.