It’s an opportunity many only ever dream about: playing at Augusta National Golf Club. Eighty junior golfers representing 30 U.S. states and one Canadian province have realized that dream, earning invitations to Augusta National Golf Club to compete in the fourth annual Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals. This year’s competition will take place on Sunday, April 2, 2017, prior to the start of the Masters Tournament.
A joint initiative by the Masters Tournament, the United States Golf Association (USGA) and the PGA of America, the Drive, Chip and Putt Championship is a free, nationwide youth golf development initiative open to girls and boys ages 7-15 – competing in separate divisions in four age categories – focusing on the three fundamental skills employed in golf and tapping the creative and competitive spirit of young golfers.
Competing in the National Championship is no easy task. The road to Augusta began with local qualifying in May, June, and July, held at more than 250 sites throughout the United States. The top three scorers per venue, in each of the four age categories in separate boys and girls divisions, advanced to 50 subregional qualifiers in July and August. Two juniors in each age and gender division then competed at the regional level in September.
The top finisher from each regional site’s age/gender divisions – a total of 80 finalists – earned a place in the National Finals, which will be broadcast live on Golf Channel.
At The First Tee we are very proud of our own 11 participants competing as finalists, including Isabella Saenz from The First Tee of Greater Houston. Rich Lerner shares her story of strength and hope that Drive Chip and Putt finalist Isabella Saenz faced when cancer struck her family, and how that now propels her in the competition.
The First Tee Participants
Competing in the 2017 Drive, Chip, and Putt Championship
Jeff Seong, The First Tee of South Puget Sound
Jacob Castro, The First Tee of Greater Dallas
Braden Miller, The First Tee of Naples/Collier
Liam Hartley, The First Tee of the Inland Empire
Samuel Kodak, The First Tee of Naples/Collier
Cavan Jones, The First Tee of Southeast New Mexico
Mia Herendeen, The First Tee of Greater Seattle
Sirina Ganne, The First Tee of Met New York
Bella Saenz, The First Tee of Greater Houston
Megha Ganne, The First Tee of Met New York
Malia Schroeder, The First Tee