Innovation and tradition make strange bedfellows. But Billy Payne, chairman of Augusta National, managed to combine the two in the children’s “Drive, Chip, and Putt” competition that took place this weekend. You can’t have tradition if you refuse to pass it on.
That was the message Payne offered when he announced the event in January. “Imagine if you will the incredible excitement these eighty-eight finalists will experience as they come to the site of the Masters to compete,” he explained at a press event. “We all share the belief that if we can make golf fun, kids will come.”
Eighty-eight kids, age seven to fifteen, came to Augusta, Georgia this weekend to compete in the four age divisions of Drive, Chip, and Putt. Payne called Sunday one of the most powerful days of his life.
The inaugural Masters Drive, Chip, and Putt competition winners are Kelly Xu (Girls 7-9), Treed Huang (Boys 7-9), Lucy Li (Girls 10-11), Leo Cheng (Boys 10-11), Natalie Pietromonaco (Girls 12-13), Bryson Bianco (Boys 12-13), Hunter Pate (Girls 14-15), and Patrick Welch (Boys 14-15).
Past champions liked the mix of something so old and venerable with people so young and enthusiastic. The 2007 Masters champion Zach Johnson observed in the New York Times, “Anytime you can incorporate beautiful things–Augusta National, the Masters, kids and golf–that’s a pretty awesome platform they can build from.”