AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Getting a hole in one is a golfer’s dream. And for many, the ability to attend college is as well. But a new partnership between Augusta National Golf Club and Paine College will make both a reality for men and women.
NewsChannel 6 spoke with Braeden Smith, a member of the Paine College Men’s Golf Team, about the news.
“High 70s. Low 80s. It’s getting there. I see a lot of improvement from my freshman year to where I am now,” he told us.
Smith said it’s his swing among many other things such as work ethic that improved with playing golf for Paine College.
“One of my teammates, Matt, he actually graduated this past year. I worked with him a lot. Between him and my coach, you can’t see your own swing, so they can only look at me and tell me what I’m doing wrong and get me on the right track. So a lot of times before we travel I try to get a round in with them two,” said Smith of Coach Adams and his teammate.
Now, more students have a chance to improve their game of golf just like Smith. During day one of the Masters, the Chairman of Augusta National Golf Club Fred Ridley announced the creation of the Lee Elder Scholarships at Paine College. This prestigious honor, named for the first African American man to compete in the Masters tournament 45 years ago, creates two scholarships that will be awarded annually to a student athlete who competes on the men’s and women’s golf teams.
Director of Athletics at Paine College, Selina Kohn, also weighed in on the annoucement.
“Any time you have the opportunity to add additional opportunities for your athletic program, you’re just excited about that. But I think the excitement in itself was more so because it was a program that we’ve never had before, which is women’s golf.”
Kohn told us Paine has a five member, men’s golf team right now and that includes Smith, who is a junior Mathematical Computer Science major. She said starting a team for women helps promote golf at Paine.
“They learn how to be engaged, they’re empowered and they feel supported in what they feel that they’re good at,” Kohn said.
She added that support stretches through all 10 sports she oversees. Smith, who initially learned the game from his dad and started playing in Richmond County high schools before receiving a scholarship to join the Lions, agrees adding that there is a chance for the men’s and women’s golf teams to work together to be their best at the game.
“The men who have been playing the tournament for a couple of years now can teach the girls the layout of the course and help them work around the course,” Smith said.
The school still needs to work out details, so there are no immediate dates for when the program will begin.
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