Drive Chip And Putt Contest Shows Promise For Future Generations Of Golfers

From One Canadian Champion At Augusta To Another, 2003 Masters Winner Mike Weir Presents The Trophy To Nicole Gal For Taking Her Age Division Title - Image Courtesy Augusta Media Hub

By Kris Jonasson/British Columbia Golf

Started in 2013, Drive Chip & Putt is a joint initiative of the Masters, PGA of America and the USGA. Boys and girls are organized into 4 categories, by age, and compete in driving, chipping and putting. Ages groups are 7-9, 10-11, 12-13, 14-15.

Qualifying takes place at over 250 local qualifying sites throughout the United States. Top finishers at each site advance through sectional, then regional qualifying, with the final 80 competitors representing 10 finalists, in 4 age divisions for both genders.

In 2019 the final field comprised juniors from 27 different states, 4 different provinces and one competitor from Paris, France who qualified through wintering in Florida. All Canadians qualified at U.S. sites for all stages.

The finals took place at Augusta National Golf Course on Sunday. The driving range is turned over to the competitors for the morning, chipping is done on the practice area green while putting is done to two different hole locations on the famous 18th green.

Assisting the prize presentations were Sergio Garcia, Mark O’Meara, Bubba Watson, Adam Scott, Nick Faldo, Ben Crenshaw and Mike Weir, all former Masters Champions. Last year's Champion Patrick Reed was joined by newly crowned Augusta National Women’s Amateur Champion Jennifer Kupcho in making presentations.

Notables like Annika Sorenstam, Nancy Lopez and Condoleezza Rice were highly visible high-fiving and shaking small hands. Golf leaders Mike Davis (USGA), Fred Ridley (Masters). Seth Waugh (PGA) joined by representatives from golf bodies around the world assisted in the competition.

image courtesy Augusta Media Hub

Women's Golf Legend Annika Sorenstam High-Fives A Young Competitor During The Drive, Chip & Putt Competition At Augusta

The addition of Kupcho is one more indication of the importance the Masters committee is putting on the Augusta National Women’s Amateur and it's an excellent decision.

Canada was well represented by 3 girls and 2 boys. Andy Mac from Candiac, Quebec in the 10-11 category and Carter Lavigne, 7-9, from Moncton, New Brunswick represented the boys.
Return finalist Vanessa Borovilos in the 12-13 age group from Toronto, Ontario, Nicole Gal, 14-15, Oakville, Ontario and Anna Huang, 10-11, Vancouver, BC were in the girls division.

Huang, who qualified for the finals at Chambers Bay last year finished 3rd with a best drive measuring 180.8 yards, an aggregate 17’8” distance to the pin after two chips and a combined putt aggregate of 4’3. Huang was presented with her trophy by Bubba Watson

Nicole Gal won her category and her presenter was none other than Mike Weir, which was totally fitting.

All competitors performed well and when you factor in live television coverage, several thousand spectators, and Augusta National course conditions, it is clear the next generations have serious skill. All the competitors deserve recognition.

Registration for the 2020 Drive Chip & Putt competition is now open and qualifying will take place throughout 2019. Register at www.drivechipandputt.com.

Jeff Thompson, the Chief Sport Officer for Golf Canada was also in attendance and assisting with the competition.