04/01/2016

The green jacket. The ceremonial tee shots on the first tee. The Champions dinner. As they say, it’s a traditional unlike any other—The Masters.

And, now the Augusta National Club is building another pillar in that tradition. It’s called the Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals, and it’s going to take place on Sunday, April 3, right before the formal start of Masters Week.

Now in its third year, the finals features junior golfers from the United States, and Canada who have advanced through local, sub-regional and regional competitions to participate in a skills competition at the most iconic golf course in the United States.

While some of these juniors have been competing in golf tournaments for less than a year, others have bene on the links for more than a decade. They’re all amateurs, of course, and so there’s are trophies but no prize money for the winners in the three sills categories—driving, chipping, and putting—and the overall winner.

The tour professionals, notably Bubba Watson and Jordan Spieth, have been extremely supporter of this new venture, and the tournament is expected to grow in stature as some of the winners of the skills competition inevitably turn pro. After all, the Little League championship became a two-week staples every August on nationwide TV when “stars”, such as Todd Frazier (that’s right, the shortstop and pitcher on the championship Toms River, New Jersey team) achieved stardom in the big leagues with the Cincinnati Reds.

Spieth and LPGA Tour star Lexi Thompson were promoting the event a few weeks, building the hype for the lucky juniors.

And speaking of TV, the Golf Channel, which is broadcasting the event, beginning 8 a.m. on Sunday, has added Emmy-Award winning reporter Michele Tafoya — from NBC’s Sunday Night Football, to its cover the event.

Tafoya will be conducting interviews with the juniors, such as seven-year old Adrial Abaoag, from Burbank, California, who’s already carded a low score of just two over par and Skylar Thompson, 15-year old from Atlanta, Georgia, whose almost six feet tall, wears size 13 shoes, and has quite the back story: Although Thompson’s handicap index is less than 3, not so long ago she shot a 115, with an 18 on the first hole. She’s come a long way.

It’s just that kind of human interest story likely to resonate with viewers, and likely to make the Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals yet another component of the tradition unlike any other.at the Augusta National Golf Club.