They’re kids! All freckle-faced and smiling. They joke around with their friends. Wolf down plate after plate from the buffet. Then drain a breaking 4 footer for birdie on the 18th to win the tournament. Nerves of steel, these kids. And they’re only 15, 16, 17 years old.
But where are the crowds? I followed players 3 of 4 days this week at the Junior PGA Championship held at Trump National Golf Course, wedging myself between nervous moms, stalwart dads and the occasional family friend who lives in the area. It’s great golf. Long, straight drives, pin-point irons and clutch putting. Pure artistry.
These kids are out here showing us how to play the game. Free to come watch, but few came. Well, I did because once upon a time I was a championship junior golfer. And as a grown up I have found that dedicated, talented kids are my best teachers. They actually play the game in the way I can hope to play it. Maybe like this:
I mean, who can really hope to hit it like Tiger? But I can hope to shot-make like Tyler McDaniel or stay still over my putts like Amy Lee. Them, I can learn from.
Here’s what I learned.
- Hit the practice tee before and after you play.
- Hit the practice green and short game area before and after you play.
- Hit the fairway with your tee shots.
- Hit your irons straight at the flag.
- Hit your putts in the center of the cup.
- Thank your hosts.
- Thank the the volunteers.
- Thank your parents and friends who came to watch you play.
I’d say these kids have gotten off to a pretty good start. Makes me wonder why we lament this younger generation as “lazy and wanting life handed to them on a silver platter.”
Perhaps we’re looking the wrong direction. These golfers are inspiring. Dedicated, hard-working, winners -all of them. Each had to qualify by rankings or by winning an invitational tournament. They’re “honored to be here… so glad to be part of this strong field… grateful they get to play.”
Humble. Honest. And incredibly competitive. Each one knows he belongs here among the best. Silver platter? no way. The championship trophy is glass, a hefty multi-faceted, playground ball sized glass orb. When Tyler and Amy hold theirs up for the photos I want to say, “Careful, don’t drop that.” They’re just kids.