More than 200 young golfers made their way to the Nicklaus Course at Country Club of Landfall (CCL) in Wilmington on Thursday to compete in the Carolinas PGA sectional Drive, Chip & Putt qualifier.
The event was one of 12 contests being held across the Carolinas this summer for boys and girls ages 7-15. The top three finishers from the four different age groups punched a ticket to the sub-regional round at Fort Jackson Golf Club in Fort Jackson, South Carolina on Saturday, August 27.
Each participant competed in the three fundamental skills employed in golf: hitting three drives, three chips and three putts. Golfers accumulated points in each skill and the competitor with the highest number of total points was declared the Overall Champion of his/her age category.
Golfers used their drivers to earn points by hitting onto a marked grid based on distance. The chipping aspect of the competition included three swings from approximately 10-15 yards from the cup, while the putting part of the event included one stroke from six feet, 15 feet and 30 feet. Points were awarded based on the ball’s proximity to the hole, with 25 points given to a putt or chip that went in the hole.
Two golfers from Wilmington claimed top spot in their age category, including Laney High School rising sophomore Jayla Rogers in the 14-15 year-old girls division and Ellie Hildreth in the girls 10-11 age group. Rogers was consistently between 220-240 yards on the drive, with a six-foot putt for 25 points. In the fall of 2015, she tied for 32nd at the NCHSAA 4A tournament as a freshman and helped Laney win its first Mideastern girls’ golf championship.
Jake Herring had the highest point total (159) of any competitor, sinking all three putts to go along with a pair of drives between 250-260 yards to win the boys 12-13 year old division.
Thursday’s local qualifiers will head to the sub-regional competition in South Carolina in August, with a chance to advance to one of 10 regional events held across the country later this fall. Regional winners will eventually compete at the Drive, Chip & Putt national championship final set for April 2, 2017 at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia, which kicks off Masters week and the Masters Golf Championship, the first of professional golf’s four major titles.
CCL Head Professional Golfers’ Association professional Sara Bush was featured in a national spotlight on Golf Channel’s Morning Drive in mid-April as part of the PGA of America’s Centennial celebration this year for her accomplishments within the Carolinas PGA Section. Thursday’s local qualifier had the largest total of participants since the event’s inception at Landfall three years ago.
Founded in 2013 by the Masters Tournament, United States Golf Association and the PGA of America, the Drive, Chip & Putt Championship is a free nationwide junior golf developmental event aimed at growing the sport.
Listed below are the winners and qualifiers based on each age group along with their hometown.
Boys: 7-9: Winner: Connor Savaro, Fayetteville, N.C; Ethan Burnette, Wrightsville Beach, N.C.; Rief Aliah, Wilmington, N.C.
Girls 7-9: .; Winner: Ella June Hannant, Pikeville, N.C.; Callie Cromartie, Wilmington, N.C.; Katelyn Cox, Hampstead, N.C.
Boys 10-11: Winner: James Perry, Hope Mills, N.C.; Jonas Lisson, Cary, N.C.; Jude Aliah, Wilmington, N.C;
Girls 10-11: Winner: Ellie Hildreth, Wilmington, N.C.; Eleanor Burnette, Wrightsville Beach, N.C.; Justine Pennycooke, Cary, N.C.
Boys 12-13; Winner: Jake Herring; Tyler Jones, Jacksonville, N.C.; Bradley McHugh, Cary, N.C.
Girls 12-13: Winner: Reagan Hungerford, Greenville, S.C.; Maci Beaver, Roanoke Rapids, N.C.; Amanda Meno, Murrells Inlet, S.C.
Boys 14-15: Winner: Zach Roberts, Holly Springs, N.C.; Walker Isley, Oak Island, N.C.; Sam Davidson, Asheboro, N.C.;
Girl 14-15: Winner: Jayla Rogers, Wilmington, N.C.; Angelique Seymour, Fayetteville, N.C.; Trinity Ahing, New Bern, N.C.