2013-03-13 / Front Page

A TaylorMade Day for Junior Golf

Burke County hosts statewide tourney for high schools
By David Stembridge

LPGA rookie Austin Ernst shared some tips with junior golfers at the TaylorMade-Adidas Invitational.  photo by David StembridgeLPGA rookie Austin Ernst shared some tips with junior golfers at the TaylorMade-Adidas Invitational. photo by David StembridgeTeams representing 24 high schools from all over Georgia and one from South Carolina gathered in Waynesboro for the 7th annual TaylorMade-Adidas Invitational Golf Tournament last weekend. The tournament has become a favorite for junior golfers across the state.

Fred Wolford of TaylorMade- Adidas has been a part of the tournament since its inception and loves coming back to Waynesboro for each event.

“We’re dealing with the future of golf here,” he said, watching the tournament activities at Waynesboro Country Club. “To see the kids get an opportunity to not only hit with our equipment but socialize and be part of a big event is what will really gets these kids passionate about playing golf for the rest of their lives.”

South Effingham High School senior Tyler Shepard was at the tournament for his third year.

Burke County junior Kaleb Tobat enjoyed his third year playing in the tournament.   Photo by David StembridgeBurke County junior Kaleb Tobat enjoyed his third year playing in the tournament. Photo by David Stembridge“Being able to compare yourself with other junior players throughout the region is a plus,” he said of the competition here. “It’s just a good way to gauge yourself and see where your team’s at and what you need to improve.”

During Friday’s practice round, LPGA rookie Austin Ernst spent some time sharing tips and time with the junior golfers. During the Friday afternoon practice round, Ernst set up a challenge on the course for the approaching teams.

“She was out there on number eleven today, on the Par Three and had a little challenge ... the closest to the pin. If you beat her, you got her ball, and I got her ball,” Shepard said, excited about interacting with Ernst.

Ernst was thrilled to be invited to help encourage and share some tips with the kids.

“It’s nice to be able to interact with high school kids,” she said. “I’m not too far off from high school, so I know where they’re coming from and kind of know what’s ahead of them. So it’s nice to be able to give them a heads up on things that I might not have known when I was their age and would have been beneficial.”

This was Burke County junior Kaleb Tobat’s third year participating, and he said it was interesting to learn how Ernst handled situations and to see how she played. He said he also values the friendships forged at the tournament year after year.

“As you play together and make mistakes and help each other through it, you make friends,” he said. “ Every tournament you go to, there are different characters you meet with different attitudes in how they play golf. You see how they play, see how you can do better and kind of test yourself as you go along.”

Richmond Academy senior Greyson Sigg said these kind of events helps prepare teams for state competition.

“I love the golf course,” he added. “It’s not far away from home.”

Burke County Coach Wade Marchman said one of the big reasons the kids love the event is because of the prizes.

“At most events you go to, if you win, you get a team trophy to take back to the school but here you win some sort of merchandise from the TaylorMade company and they love it,” Coach Marchman said.

“They get a chance to win a driver and there are also shirts, shoes, umbrellas and many other great prizes. I think it’s good for the teams and the game of golf to have tournaments like this. High school golf often includes kids who aren’t normally as fortunate in terms of golf and get to play every weekend. They get to come out and play.”

Coach Marchman also sees the event as a unique opportunity to prepare the students for the next level, likening the long rounds and level of competition to what they may see in college.

“It’s a long day, and this helps prepare them for what they’ll experience on the collegiate level,” he said.

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