Photo by John Harpring
The Augusta National is synonymous with excellence, tradition and prestige. It is an organization that arguably hosts the most spectacular sporting event in the world each year. Having orchestrated more than 75 years of tournaments, with tournament badges being one of the most sought-after tickets in sports, the club and its membership could certainly opt to rest and enjoy their success. But instead they continue to strive for excellence and the expansion of golf to more audiences throughout the world.
The latest addition comes this year with the hosting of the finals to the Drive, Chip and Putt Championship. The competition will be held at the Augusta National on the Sunday, April 6. The boys and girls traveling to Augusta for the event will have won various qualifying events throughout the country in order to earn a spot in the finals. Competitors will range in age from 7 to 15.
The competition gives those lucky patrons with tickets to the event the opportunity to see some of the best young golfing talent from across the country. For some, it may not be the last time we will see these young competitors on the grounds of the Augusta National
Later this month, the Augusta area will play host to another event for young golfers, the Junior Invitational at Sage Valley Golf Club in Graniteville, S.C. The tournament takes place April 24-26 at the club, located less than 15 miles from Augusta. Highlighting this year’s field are 23 of the top 25 players in the Golfweek/Sagarin Junior Rankings led by 2013 U.S. Junior Amateur champion Scottie Scheffler. Notable international players include Italy’s Renato Paratore and Germany’s Dominic Foos. In its fourth year, the tournament enjoys an excellent reputation and continues to grow in popularity. Gary Player, a three-time Masters champion, will be the keynote speaker this year.
The efforts by the Augusta National and others to expand the game of golf to younger and more diverse audiences has definitely elevated the game throughout the world and enabled us to see younger talent early in development. Tianlang Guan—then 14-year-old from China who made history last year at the Masters Tournament—is but one example. Likewise, nearly 100 years ago, Bobby Jones, the founder of the Masters Tournament, reached the quarterfinals of the U.S. Amateur at age 14, signaling his emergence as the world’s greatest amateur.
The foundation and traditions started by Jones have been expanded but continue today. If you have come to Augusta to see the best in golf, from the youngest prodigies to golf’s legendary players, you are in the right place this April.