Drive, Chip, Putt is an initiative from the PGA to encourage kids into the sport of Golf. It tests kids from ages 7 to 15 on their skills for Driving the golf ball for distance as well as staying in bounds, three chips shots and three putt shots from different distances.
There are many local qualifiers all across the United States with many competitions during the Spring and Summer of each year. Advanced registration is required and usually occurs near the start of each new year. The boys are separated from the girls and each are put into age group brackets to even out the competition.
Drive Chip Putt is a free event to encourage kids to get involved in the sport of Golf
This is our second year doing Drive Chip Putt. Last year, our son, Nick, was no where near ready to match competition to become one of the Top 3 but we thought it would be a fun event for him to test out. He competed in Rome, GA in 2015 at Coosa Country Club. It was a wonderful experience at Coosa. Very organized, friendly staff and great sportsmanship from the competitors and parents. As we were watching a younger group do their putts, a couple of kids were watching to read the green. Each kid was offering advice and talking to each other. It showed a lot of maturity and positive sportsmanship. Unfortunately, Coosa was not available as an option for 2017.
For the 2016 Drive Chip Putt, we signed up to compete at Bridgemill Athletic Club in Canton, GA. This year it was a very different atmosphere. The older groups were starting at least 20 to 30 minutes late due to the younger groups taking way too much time with each of their three drives. Unfortunately, the way the drive area is setup, there is a “hump” that most kids were hitting. That hump made sure that the majority of kids hit it so their ball would go out of bounds. Another parent mentioned to us that the same hump caused problems last year and many complained about it. The hump remains.
Also, there was a decidedly different attitude with competitors and their parents. Although there was not anything offensive, many parents made it verbally clear that they paid for private coaches for up to a year specifically to train for Drive Chip Putt. While that is their prerogative and I understand that the end goal is to get the kid to Augusta (ours too!), the tone of the discussions seemed to defeat the purpose of Drive Chip Putt: get kids interested in the game of golf. While our son is a decent golfer and has a chance to place in the Top 3 of Drive Chip Putt, we chose to spend our “golf money” on learning the game vs. learning how to compete for Drive Chip Putt. Before the nasty comments come along, our family does not believe in participation awards and strives to always win (Nick’s Dad is a Marine!) but we also don’t want the fun of the a sport to be lost over parents having the end goal of getting to Augusta. It’s about the kid, not the parent, not the end goal.
If the PGA wants to get kids involved with golf at an early age… and keep them engaged, they need to work more closely with local golf courses and PGA Pros to get the word out about golf lessons, privates, clinics (ex. for Drive Chip Putt). Most kids are not going to randomly turn on the Golf Channel to watch a tournament on a Saturday afternoon. Give a kid a chance to spend time outside on a golf course with friends, relatives and/or parents and the PGA has a really good chance of capturing new generations for the sport. Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler and Bryson DeChambeau are great at getting young kids to the sport but once the interest is there, it is up to the PGA to take the next step.
First Timers at Drive Chip Putt:
- Go to Drive Chip Putt‘s website for full details and to Register
- Arrive early to warm up at the Driving Range & review greens for Chipping/Putting
- Driving Balls are provided to keep the competition as fair as possible
- You are required to bring golf balls for Chipping/Putting
- Don’t let the fancy gear/clothes/attitudes get your nervous.
- Have fun and make sure that your kid does too!