Inside the Ropes of a Junior Tournament

by Patrick Livingston, National Golf Schools

You are a 15 year old female high school High School sophomore with aspirations to play on the LPGA tour. What are your summer golf expectations? Play in some local PGA Chapter Junior tournaments? Play in some AGJA tournaments? Spend a little time with your PGA Teaching Professional (probably a good idea)?

Well, Megan Chapman’s golf world turned upside down this summer when she played in a First Tee qualifier at the difficult Champions Gate International golf course in Orlando, Florida. A solid 74 qualified her for a spot in the Wal-Mart First Tee Open; a Champions Tour event at Pebble Beach September 2nd through September 4th.

Meghan has been playing golf for only 2 ½ years, but after just a few lessons I realized she could be a very special golfer with a college scholarship and, potentially, the LPGA tour in her future. Her parents Pat & Scott Chapman are Psychologists in the Tampa Bay area and were supportive without being intrusive like some parents tend to be with good young athletes. Meghan is very good athlete, works hard on her game, and has a mental toughness rarely found in young junior golfers.

What is the Wal-Mart First Tee Open at Pebble Beach? It is an official Champions Tour Tournament with each Professional playing with a junior partner in a team event where the winner receives a trophy on Sunday afternoon before 25,000 spectators and a National TV audience! This tournament serves as the national championship for the First Tee program, an initiative of the World Golf Foundation which provides young people of all backgrounds an opportunity to develop life-enhancing values and character education through the game of golf. First Tee and the Champions Tour help promote character development and life enhancing values such as honesty, integrity and sportsmanship through golf.

The Champions tour players treated the junior golfers as fellow competitors and gave a helping hand at every opportunity. Warming up for Meghan’s first practice round at Pebble Beach, she rubbed shoulders with Gary McCord, Peter Jacobson, Arnold Palmer and many other Champions Tour players. Megan had golf conversations with Fuzzy Zeoller, Arnold Palmer, and Ben Crenshaw. She was interviewed by several newspapers and by Peter Jacobsen’s television show, which will be seen on the Golf Channel. Each night there was a First Tee dinner featuring speakers such as Richard Petty, Gary McCord and many other famous athletes and celebrities. Meghan was partnered with Dave Barr and played well in the tournament. The highlight of her tournament was holing-out a 45 putt for birdie on the famous 18th hole at Pebble Beach in front of thousands of spectators and a live TV audience.

Yes, there were many great experiences and highlights inside the ropes, but for me it was being allowed to experience this with Meghan as her caddy.

Patrick Livingston is a PGA Member, CEO of National Golf Schools, with 40 locations nation wide. He is the “2003 & 2007 PGA Teacher of the Year for N. Florida” and author of many golf instructional articles. He is the author of the recently released golf book “The Teaching Professionals Guide to Great Golf for Life”. Pat can be reached at 727-543-1431, e-Mail natlgolforlando@cfl.rr.com or web-site www.nationalgolfschools.com

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