It was not just the perfect weather that was on-point Sunday afternoon at Geneva National, but also the 62 junior players who were welcomed on-site for Wisconsin’s first Drive, Chip and Putt local qualifier of the season and their first step on The Road to Augusta.
Free to enter and open to golfers aged 7-15, the tournament featured boys and girls divisions for children aged 7-9, 10-11, 12-13 and 14-15, allowing them to compete within their age groups at three of the key skills involved in the game: Driving, chipping and putting.
Starting at the driving station, each player attempted three drives from the same teeing area and tallied up points according to distance of shots that came to rest inside the 40-yard wide grid. From there they went to chipping, where again three shots were taken from the same location approximately 10-15 yards from the hole. Each was scored separately before moving on to putting. At putting, participants had one attempt each from 6’, 15’ and 30’. Precise rings encircled the chipping and putting grids, and points were given for shots that stopped within those circles.
The entire competition took just 15-20 minutes per participant to complete, and awards for each age and gender group immediately followed their flights. Ribbons were handed out to the winner of each discipline, and the top three in each age and gender group automatically qualified for a spot in the August 23 sub-regional to be held at The Legend of Bergamont near Madison.
Over 1,300 kids competed in Wisconsin’s local qualifiers for last year’s Drive, Chip & Putt competition, and two made it all the way to Augusta National. Nineteen kids qualified on Sunday to advance to Bergamont – their dreams are still alive to be this year’s Addie Lupton or Alex Kim (the state’s two national finalists from 2023), and to enjoy a day in the sun on the world’s most perfectly kempt golf facility in Georgia.
Among those who qualified at Geneva National in the boys 14-15 division were Kairos Suh of Fontana, winner of his flight and overall driving skill champion including a 291-yard bomb! Ethan Zach of Brookfield, who won the division’s chipping skill, also qualified, as did Zev Goldman of Madison who tallied up an impressive 40 points in the putting skill.
Emma Fiocchi of Kildeer, Illinois was the highest point-getter in the girls’ division, collecting 99 total and leading all girls in the driving and putting skills (she was also 2nd in chipping) to punch her ticket to Bergamont and keep her Augusta 2024 dream alive and well.
Other qualifiers from Sunday’s event included:
- Adeline Wachholder (division winner), Tennley Streit and Reese Dahl for girls 7-9
- Anna Block (division winner), Logan Dammeir and London Morales for girls 10-11
- Emma Fiocchi (division winner/overall girls points leader), Paige Clark and Mia Shulski for girls 12-13
- Myles Branta (division winner), Abner Rangel and Charles Barry for boys 7-9
- Cameron Nevara (division winner), Declan Fitzgerald and Evan Zach for boys 10-11
- Owen Ichen (division winner/overall boys points leader), Aryan Bhushan and Hunter Blomgren for boys 12-13
What makes Geneva National the perfect Drive, Chip & Putt venue?
Geneva National is one of Wisconsin’s leaders in growing the game of golf, and their ongoing development over the past few years has been incredible to witness as the resort has consistently created new programs and amenities aimed at introducing new players to our great game.
The 2022 opening of The Dance Floor, for example (make sure to check out my article from last year’s opening event featuring Paige Spiranac, who will be back at GN along with John Daly on June 5), saw the installation of a 44,000-square foot, Craig Haltom-designed Himalayas-style putting course out back of the club’s beautifully renovated clubhouse, urging both avid golf enthusiasts and beginners alike to enjoy the leisure and subtleties of the game that are found in taking on one of the most fun and wildly undulating putting surfaces in Wisconsin.
While there, the newly debuted Cantina has everything you’ll need to make hours on The Dance Floor fly by while making the 27-hole loop, and comfortable seating will have you enjoying spectacular sunsets over Lake Como.
It’s events like the Drive, Chip & Putt competition, a litany of junior camps and programs, and amenities like The Dance Floor that are imperative to golf’s future growth. “Start them young and make it fun,” they say, and few do that better than Geneva National Resort & Golf Club.
“Growing our junior programming is a big part of what we’re trying to do at Geneva National. Right now we’ll have three junior camps this summer where we already have over 100 kids registered. We have some one-day camps, as well, and recently launched a three-tournament series for juniors with one competition each in June, July and August. Kids can play in one event or all three.
There will be a points race if they play in all three to promote a little more of a competitive environment. We’ll have age-friendly tees and start off as nine-hole tournaments that we hope to make 18 holes down the road. We’re hoping kids can be in their first tournament competitions right here at Geneva National.”
– Steve Loomis, Director of Golf at Geneva National
Whether for fun or competition, there is no better game than golf to promote lifelong learning and development, character, integrity and fun. And for us parents, there’s nothing better than spending time with our kids in a setting where their creative and competitive juices can run wild.
My own son, Charlie, who’s a year and a half from being able to play in DCP, and I spent hours on the course Saturday evening, and watching his own addiction for golf start to take hold is already an indelible memory. Knowing that if he loves this game the way I do that we’ll be able to enjoy it together our entire lives is something I look forward to, to say the least.
Does your kid have an interest in the game of golf? Does she/he like to compete? Then what are you waiting for? You may have missed the season’s first local qualifier at Geneva National but there will be 11 others in Wisconsin leading up to August’s sub-regional at Bergamont. Picture the fun you’ll have sharing your favorite game with your own kid, and just imagine: Some day you two could be driving down Magnolia Lane at Augusta, on your way to watching your son or daughter compete the day before the pros tee off at The Masters.
It costs nothing to enter and could help lead to a lifetime of golf lifestyle, so get your kids signed up and on their Road to Augusta today.
Interested in registering your child for a 2024 Drive, Chip & Putt local qualifier? Visit the Drive, Chip & Putt website here.
Interested in more information on Geneva National’s junior golf program? Make sure to visit their website (link to junior golf here), or simply call the friendly folks in the pro shop at (262) 245-7000 and they’ll be happy to answer any questions you have to help get your son or daughter involved.
What a day! What a phenomenal tournament site! And what a fantastic cause. I’m proud to have played a small part in Sunday’s event and can’t wait until my own kids are old enough to compete in it, themselves. I’ll make sure we do it at the best spot for it here in Wisconsin: Geneva National Resort & Golf Club.
Here’s to a great start to the 2023 Wisconsin golf season, friends, and doing our part to help grow the game and create wonderful lifelong memories for the next generations.