Photo of Augusta National Golf Club chairman Billy Payne
Augusta, GA -
The journey to earn the privilege to play here might just begin here. Just days removed from the Drive, Chip, and Putt National Championship and the Augusta National Golf Club is announcing plans to make it bigger.
"Next year, thanks to the hard work of all of our partners, the Drive, Chip and Putt Competition will dramatically expand to more than 250 qualifying venues in all 50 states, allowing more than 50,000 kids to compete for their opportunity to visit Augusta National Golf Club next Spring," Augusta National Golf Club chairman Billy Payne said Wednesday.
That means nearly 3 times the number of kids compared to this year will get a shot of playing on golf's ultimate stage next year.
It could be the thing that gets children to take up the game.
"I sort of play it, not really," said one young patron.
"I love it and personally it's really fun to me. I get to do a lot more stuff, and my stepfather also loves golf, so it's another way for us to bond and golf is awesome. Yeah," said another young patron.
Nine-year-old Brayden still hasn't come down from being in the inaugural Drive, Chip, and Putt competition. "Being very happy for getting in this," he said. "How'd you do?" we asked. "Good," Brayden said.
Parents we talked to say they're excited about growing the game of golf, for sure, but they're just as excited about growing what the game of golf does.
"There's manners that come with it...etiquette....all the things that come with being on a golf course. Being able to dress appropriately, being able to deal with elders appropriately," said one parent.
"I think it's a wonderful thing that The Augusta National is trying to bring more kids into the sport," said another patron.
Those of us who already love this game know that its impact goes beyond what happens on the course. It's a game that can impact and improve lives.
"I am going to represent Camp Carpe Diem in a one day golf tournament. Camp Carpe Diem is a camp for epilepsy. I have had epilespy for about two years now and I've actually made a lot of friends at camp and it was a big thing for me," said another young patron.
So go ahead, sign up for the new and improved Drive, Chip, and Putt. This club is making more room for you. Bring a friend or a loved one. You could be planting a seed that will grow for generations.
"I am an excellent putter and my brother is an excellent driver," the young girl added. "It's a great family sport. It's a way to keep everyone together and I think that alone is worth every penny spent," her mother added.
A lot of boys and girls and their families very excited that Augusta National is taking something that already had a lot of interest, and making it bigger and better.