After Further Review: The real way to grow the game


Each week, takes a look back at the week in golf. In this edition of After Further Review, our writers weigh in on the inaugural Drive, Chip and Putt Championship at Augusta, and Matt Jones's dramatic win at the Shell Houston Open.

This week we heard a lot about “growing the game.” After all, that’s what Golf Digest editors claimed to be doing when they put a scantily clad Paulina Gretzky on the cover of its fitness issue.

“She might get some new people interested in the game,” they said of the Internet starlet.

That statement grows only more absurd, and never were we reminded of that more than when 88 juniors competed Sunday morning at Augusta National in the inaugural Drive, Chip and Putt Championship.

Now this is how you grow the game.

Kids ages 7-15, on live television, competing for a national title … at Augusta National. This is like having the Little League World Series at Fenway, the Youth Basketball of America Championship at the Garden, the Pop Warner Championship at Lambeau.

This initiative will prove to be not only the most significant grow-the-game program in the short term, but they’re breeding the next generation of lifelong golfers.

Sorry, but Paulina isn’t doing that. Not even close. – Ryan Lavner

Of all the “grow the game” initiatives that have been introduced in recent years the Drive, Chip & Putt Championship may end up having the most lasting impact.

In its inaugural year, the event drew more than 15,000 juniors to local qualifiers across the United States, and Sunday’s final at Augusta National seems likely to make that number spike next year, when officials plan to expand to 256 local qualifying sites that will be able to accommodate more than 50,000 participants.

“I’m going to measure their success not by what they do in golf, but by how many kids they bring to golf,” Augusta National chairman Billy Payne said. – Rex Hoggard

Sunday was a day for making dreams come true. Just a few hours after 88 kids, ranging from adorable to adorably awkward, competed in the inaugural Drive, Chip and Putt Championship at Augusta National Golf Club, Matt Jones chipped in for his first career win and the last spot in the Masters field.

And, hey, that might lead to a dream come true for Matt Kuchar, too. He joined Rory McIlroy and Adam Scott as elite players to get overtaken late in a final round recently, but winners of the pre-Masters tourney traditionally don’t have much success at Augusta, anyway.

Jones will take his chances, of course. Directly after his maiden victory, he admitted he’ll have to buy a lot of badges for friends and family. Sounds like more dreams coming true on Sunday. – Jason Sobel