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Getting Ready for the Drive, Chip and Putt Tournament

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This summer, my daughter Elizabeth participated in the Drive, Chip and Putt golf tournament for the first time.

She won the local qualifying in her age category (7-9 years old) by a large margin, 30 points ahead of the second place.

As I was applauding Elizabeth’s great performance at her first golf tournament, I was thinking that it was a long road to get here. And the road from here was even longer…

First steps in golf

We started teaching Elizabeth some basics of golf when she was less than two years old. We first gave her a set of three plastic clubs to play with. Then we took her to the putting green to play with the balls. She’d roll some balls into a hole and try to hit the ball with the other clubs. A couple of years later, we got her a bag of real children’s clubs- a driver, an iron, a pitcher and a putter- and she started practicing more seriously. We took her to the driving range every weekend.

Elizabeth at the Jekyll Island Golf Club (Summer of 2017)

Junior golf program at the Bretton Woods Recreation Center

When Elizabeth was 6, we signed her up for group golf classes at the Bretton Woods Recreation Center.

We’ve been members of this club for a decade and they never had a structured children’s golf program, but a few years ago they started offering it. Lucky for us!

The junior golf classes at Bretton Woods are now offered in the early fall and late spring either once a week or every other week. The kids are grouped by age. Each age group meets for a dedicated hour on a Saturday (unless it pours down rain). The weather in the DC area is always so unpredictable- it often rains and sometimes it might even snow. In that case, the class gets cancelled. There is always a makeup class, so no class is lost.

Classes take place either at the junior driving range at the bottom part of Bretton Woods (near the tennis courts) or on the putting green/chipping area near the clubhouse. This depends on what shots kids practice in a particular class. Usually, each 6-week session includes classes dedicated to putting, chipping, irons, and driving, or a mix of each. Kids don’t just hit shots, but play various games which teach them the game in a fun way. Kids can bring either their own clubs or borrow from the club. The junior golf program at Bretton Woods has generated a lot of interest and a lot of kids of various ages signed up.  

Golf classes at Bretton Woods

The instructor of the program, Tarah Schloss, is absolutely outstanding and great with kids. If one wants to complement group classes with individual ones, this opportunity is also available.

Golf camp at the Bretton Woods Recreation Center

Bretton Woods offers a wide range of camps, including tennis camp, golf camp, day camp, and others. Kids are eligible to participate in the golf camp starting age 7.

This year, Elizabeth met the age requirement and attended the golf camp at Bretton Woods for the first time. We enrolled her for one week in the middle of July. For little kids like her, the full day of golf camp is not recommended, so she participated only in the morning session (9:30 am to 12:30 pm). The second half of the day in the golf camp would involve extensive playing on the course, potentially carrying own clubs, which could be quite tiring for a 7-year-old. Especially in the 95 degree heat which is common in DC in the afternoon.

Elizabeth had a great time at the golf camp. Each day, kids practiced different shots and played different games which let them accumulate points to win prizes later.

Golf camp at Bretton Woods

The last day was held on the course. All the kids’ club bags were loaded on the golf cart and the children walked the course and hit different shots like in a real game. The prizes were also distributed on the last day, and nobody was disappointed. Elizabeth was delighted that she won a ladybug cover for her driver, a hat and a fun toy. 

The last day of golf camp

Overall, great experience at the Bretton Woods golf camp and we highly recommend it for kids of all ages who are interested in learning to play golf.

Drive, Chip and Putt

Signing up

I have been watching the Drive, Chip and Putt tournament on TV for many years. I was excited that in 2023, Elizabeth was finally eligible to participate. Given that she’d been practicing golf quite intensively this year, with the golf classes and camp, we thought it would be interesting to compete in the tournament and see how she compares to her peers.

The signup online is very easy. You have to go to the Drive, Chip and Putt website, create an account, and pick the golf club in the area where you’d like to go to local qualifying. Qualification dates are different for different clubs. This gives you an opportunity to choose the date which works best for your schedule.

Once you fill out all the required info, you receive a confirmation. You also get on their mailing list with various tips and updates. Please be mindful that if your plans change, you need to cancel your child’s participation. If you don’t cancel and don’t show up, your child won’t be able to participate next year.

We picked River Bend Club, which was the closest to our house.

5 days before the event, we received an email from the organizers about participants and tee times. Elizabeth would be in the group 7-9 years old and teeing off in the afternoon, at 2:35 pm.

At the tournament

We got to River Bend two hours before Elizabeth’s tee time. This was our first time, so we thought it was better to arrive early.

Right at the entrance, the organizers greeted us. They handed Elizabeth her scorecard and informed us where we could find different things (practice area, competition area, food, bathrooms…) A lot of kids were participating. Some were practicing, some competing in clearly marked areas, others waiting for their scores by the score booth. We saw several award ceremonies, with many kids and parents cheering the winners. Overall, the tournament was very well organized and rather easy to get around.

We got something to eat and drink (the selection wasn’t the greatest but it was at least something) and then headed to the practice area. Elizabeth practiced for one hour there. The organizers recommended to practice the shots in the reverse order (first putts, then chips, then drives). We followed their advice.

At the scheduled tee time, we headed to the clearly marked area where kids would be starting the competition and hitting their drives.

Elizabeth was grouped together with three other girls. Each one had an opportunity to hit 3 drives. The scores were immediately recorded in their scorecards by the organizers. Later the same group walked to the chipping and putting areas, respectively. Each girl hit 3 chips and 3 putts. The organizers recorded all the scores in their scorecard. Later, we had to wait till all the other girls who had later tee times finished their shots. The whole process was 15-20 minutes max, very fast and efficient.

Once everyone in the group finished, the organizers announced winners for each individual skill and then the overall winner.

To our great delight, Elizabeth won the 1st place in every single skill and the first place overall.

It was a very happy day and we had a nice celebration of Elizabeth’s achievement.

The final word

Following the local qualifying, Elizabeth received an invitation to the Salisbury Country Club to participate in the subregional tournament which would be held in the beginning of August. Unfortunately, she could not participate as our family was relocating to another country on the same day. We didn’t have the flexibility to change the dates.

Elizabeth is hoping to enroll in the Drive, Chip and Putt tournament again next year. She says she loved the tournament and wants to do it again. So, she will be spending lots of time on the golf course, practicing her drives, chips and putts. Hopefully, she’ll get another chance to participate in a subregional tournament. And this time, we’ll make sure she doesn’t miss it.

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