Inside the Ropes Drive Chip and Putt Finals Behind the Scenes


The sun hadnt yet risen at the Eagle Creek Golf Club in Orlando, FL as the Drive, Chip and Putt team put the last minute touches on the National Tournament. September 23rd was a big day for the kids, parents, sponsors and volunteers as 88 of the top Junior Golfers in the country prepared for the big event. An entire year of planning culminates in this one week, says Will Lenz, a two-year member of the Drive, Chip and Putt team that travels from city to city organizing the events.
The Mutual of Omaha Drive, Chip, and Putt Junior Challenge presented by The Golf Channel provides boys and girls, ages 7-14, with an opportunity to compete in a fun series of events to develop and test their golf skills. Winners from all local events in four age groups (7-8, 9-10, 11-12, 13-14), compete at regional championships throughout the year and from there advance to the National Championship.
The week prior to the finals is quite hectic for the DCP Team, which consists of four full time members and two summer interns, as they organize the tournament and all the aspects surrounding it. Their list of things to do includes planning the Champions Dinner, Sponsor Coordination, menus, gift bags, a marching band, camera crews and 24 volunteers. Plans begin in July when the DCP team begins sending packets to National Finalists concerning their travel, accommodations and the itinerary for the week. The kids are treated like royalty once they arrive in Orlando, including fabulous accommodations at Nickelodeon Family Suites which has an arcade and two waterpark pool complexes. Everything a kid needs to make the most of their stay! In addition to the tournament itself, finalists attend a Champions Dinner, held in their honor the night before and receive tickets to local theme parks.
The day started fairly early for the team as they arrived at the golf course before 6 am to make sure everything was in place for the arrival of the contestants at 7:30 am. A large practice green provided the kids with an opportunity to work out those last minute jitters before attending a Player Meeting to discuss the days events. A local high school marching band was brought in to lead the champions into the opening ceremony where a camera crew captured every moment. After completing the putting, chipping and driving stations everyone was invited to partake in the hamburgers and hot dogs before the awards ceremony.
The president of The Golf Channel, Dave Manougian, was on hand to present the trophies to the first, second and third place finishers in each age group in front of parents and guests.
As the kids and parents made their way to the buses that would take them to their hotels, many stopped to say thank you to the DCP Team for all their hard work over the past year. With all the kids promising to return, 2006 is certain to be another exciting year of Junior Golf.
Join The Golf Channel on Thursday, November 24, at 12:00 PM/ET to see who will win the Nationals for The Mutual of Omaha Drive, Chip, and Putt Junior Challenge presented by The Golf Channel.