Local golf notes

bspear@thestate.comMay 3, 2014 

If plans come to fruition, and those in charge have no doubt they will, more than 100 young golfers will receive a day to remember in August at Fort Jackson Golf Club.

The occasion will be the sub-regional of the Drive, Chip and Putt program, and “We’re excited about the opportunity and the possibilities,” said Mike Casto, the club’s general manager and director of golf.

“It’s going to be special,” superintendent Jeff Connell predicted

The competition, part of the grow-the-game initiative backed by golf’s top organizations, earned rave reviews in its first season that culminated with the age-group championships decided the Sunday prior to the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club. Enhancing the experience was The Golf Channel’s televising of the finals, and some top pros interacting with the participants.

The program has been expanded and there are more entries than last year.

“We have talked about a number of things we want to do and I’m sure we’ll explore more ideas before we finalize everything, but I guarantee we will put on a good show,” Casto said. “I’m sure our red-white-and-blues (small American flags used on pins on national holidays) will be used. We will have some military vehicles around the course, and we’ll bring some bleachers in for fans.”

Competition is open to boys and girls 7-15, and players exhibit their skills with the driver, the putter and the short game. Information, including free registration, is available at drivechipandputt.com.

Local qualifying will be: June 14 at River Hills GC in Little River; and July 12 at Carolina CC in Spartanburg and Westcott GC in Summerville; and July 19 at Callawassie Island Club in Okatie.

Top performers advance to Fort Jackson GC on Aug. 16. The regional for Southeastern states will be staged in Great Falls, Va., in September.

“We have had Play Golf America at the club several times, and I’m sure (the selectors) knew about the quality of our practice facilities,” Casto said. “Plus, it’s a central location (in the state). They asked if we would be interested, and of course we said, ‘Yes.’ ”

“The whole program is so outstanding,” Connell said. “Can you imagine the thrill those kids had this year at Augusta National? There are so many great stories, and the way they did the putting, moving from the putting green to the (Masters) Sunday pin placement, for the final putt was such a great touch.

“We don’t want this to be a one-time thing, either. We’ll have an outstanding day for the kids and their parents, something they always will remember. (Sponsors) will notice what we have to offer and maybe next we’ll be planning for the regional.”

Chip shots

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