A Look Back at the 2013 Drive, Chip & Putt Championship
Part of our blog will be to re-live some of the more memorable moments of the past year and the impact they had on our staff, our Club, and our tireless promotion of the game. With that said, I can’t think of a single event that defined 2013 at Tucson Country Club better than our ability along with others across the country to host the inaugural Drive Chip & Putt Championship Local Qualifier. We were privileged to be on the front end of this event with two other Clubs nationwide hosting on Saturday, June 1st. Our event was special in a number of ways, but it was our membership and Board of Directors’ 100% support our efforts through volunteers and financial assistance that truly made it come together. When I first went to the Club with the idea of hosting it didn’t take long for each of them to climb on board. In our video slide show you will see not only the presentation of our event but just over 100 youngsters (in 4 age divisions for both boys and girls) in awe of the opportunity to advance to the Regional qualifier, and for a lucky few the ultimate chance of playing for a National Championship at the hallowed grounds of the Augusta National Golf Club in April 2014.
It was a warm summer’s day in the Southwest, but the enthusiasm was at its peak for the 1:00 p.m. start at TCC. The look on many of the juniors’ faces told the story, everything from those who have never played before to juniors who knew they would ultimately be in the mix at day’s end. When you think about it this could very well be the greatest catalyst to junior golf in the past 25 years. The cooperation between the PGA of America, The Masters Tournament Foundation, and the USGA was incredible. But, as with any effort there are always things we can do better, and I’m certain after the first year great improvements will be made in some areas. But collectively the ‘BIG 3’ along with our incredible PGA professionals across the country pulled off a magnificent show.
For us at the Club it was important to showcase our talents in areas such as tournament operations, food & beverage, event services and more, along with the look and feel of a major event. Pre-qualifying news releases within the community included a number of on an off camera commentary. “TCC President Duane Froeschle stated, “A junior event of this stature held at Tucson Country Club only adds to the history of whom and what we stand for in our community and in the game of golf. As previous host site for two USGA National Championships and numerous other prestigious events we are proud to partner with the Masters Tournament Foundation, PGA of America, and the United States Golf Association on such an important event.”
We were also proud to have with us one of my students LPGA Symetra Tour professional Blair O’Neal, a Cobra/Puma ambassador, and former winner of the Golf Channel’s BIG BREAK. She was on hand “working the tee” with autographs, pictures and more. Blair added an added dimension that really made the kids feel special. The look and feel of the event took on a life of its own as the day progressed with each youngster being announced to the tee when their opportunity arrived. The emotion of the day was scene through the eyes of the parents to include one special moment I shared with a family from Colorado who said to me, “…we knew this would be a big thing, while we don’t have much of a chance to qualify I knew when I heard the organizations involved we had to be a part of it. I wanted my daughter to experience something special, something as a family we would never forget, and we did. I’m so proud of Lilly, we had a great time, and will be back next year for sure.” Wow! I had to interrupt him a couple of times because as he was telling the story it just brought tears to my eyes. The impact of an event like this hit us all right between the eyes.
A big thank you goes out to not only the membership at TCC but KVOA General Manager (NBC affiliate), and TCC member Bill Shaw for all his support in resources and staff that entire week. Furthered thanks goes to our SWSPGA staff and our PGA Regional Player Development Manager Bob Doyle for all of his organization and hard work that day. But, most importantly I would like to commend our staff of PGA & LPGA professionals for a job well done. Organizationally they did a phenomenal job of making the day about the event and the kids. And with so many wonderful comments from the parents and kids alike I think 10-year old Mia Cezarek summed it up best by saying. “I tried my best and had fun!” Unbelievable…I can’t wait for April and the look on the face of the juniors who qualify as they step into history of the Drive, Chip & Putt Championship.