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Timeless Excitement for Early Arrivals

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The Girls 7-9 division is led to the No. 18 putting green during the 2022 Drive, Chip & Putt National Finals at Augusta National Golf Club.

Girls 7-9 division comes ready to play, have fun at Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals

It was cool and dark Sunday morning, and dawn had yet to break. So there was no reason to think the 7-, 8- and 9-year-old girls emerging from the mini-vans that had just come to a stop would be anything but grumpy. After all, that is not exactly prime time for kids of that age. Or prime conditions. But every one of the youngsters beamed a big smile as she stepped out of her vehicle. A couple of the kids giggled, and they all gawked at the stands of specimen trees and the perfectly cropped grass. Several of their parents began taking photographs.

They had just ridden down Magnolia Lane at Augusta National Golf Club and were about to compete in the Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals. And no matter how early the time or chilly the air, nothing was going to kill the buzz that they all felt.

2022 National Finals
2022 National Finals
The Girls 7-9 division are led to the No. 18 putting green during the Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals
2022 National Finals
2022 National Finals
Competitors in the Girls 7-9 division arrive to chip during the 2022 Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals.
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A couple of Club members, clad in their Green Jackets, greeted the youngsters and members of their families. Then the 10 golfers in the group and their chaperones followed a standard bearer to the member’s short-game practice area to begin their warm-ups.

“Congratulations on getting here,” one of the organizers said, adding that “today is about having fun.”

The youngsters, many of whom wore ribbons in their hair and toted pink golf bags, certainly seemed to be having fun as they began hitting chip shots on a very well contoured green. And there was no doubt about their skill level as golf balls consistently settled close to the holes.

Then it was on to the practice area located on the opposite side of Magnolia Lane, where the competitors began banging drives, some of the youngsters barely as tall as their clubs were long. The hits up and down the line sounded very solid, and the balls that jumped off the titanium club faces traveled far and straight.

“How good is this?” 7-year-old Eloise Fetzer from La Grange, Ill., said to no one in particular.

2022 National Finals
2022 National Finals
Eloise Fetzer of the Girls 7-9 division after competing in the Drive portion of the 2022 Drive, Chip & Putt National Finals at Augusta National Golf Club.
2022 National Finals
2022 National Finals
Kaylie Bae of the Girls 7-9 division lines up her drive during the 2022 Drive, Chip & Putt National Finals at Augusta National Golf Club.
2022 National Finals
2022 National Finals
Jessica Hoerr of the Girls 7-9 division chips during the 2022 Drive, Chip & Putt National Finals at Augusta National Golf Club.
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The grins on the girls swinging on either side of her indicated that they felt the same way.

Once they were done with their driver practice, they ambled over to the Tournament Practice Area where the Drive and Chip part of the competition would take place.

“I really liked being here,” said Kaylee Wu, 9, from Short Hills, N.J. “I really like the trees and flowers, and the golf balls with the Masters logo.”

Another 9-year-old, Berklee Turner from Cabot, Ark., said: “The best part of it for me is that the pros get to be here, and that makes me feel like a pro just being here.”

The best part of it for me is that the pros get to be here, and that makes me feel like a pro just being here.
Berklee Turner

As for Jessica Hoerr from Phoenix, Ariz., she found the experience “cool and overwhelming at the same time.”

“And driving down Magnolia Lane this morning and seeing the Clubhouse in the distance was the best,” she added.

Standing next to Hoerr was her coach, John Kim, and she said he seemed even more excited to be here than she was.

“I have been here as a patron before,” Kim said. “But I still got goosebumps as we drove down Magnolia Lane.”

Augusta National has a way of doing that, no matter how old – or young – you are.

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