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Young golfers aim for Augusta National

Published: Oct. 3, 2021 at 6:31 PM EDT
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Some of the best young golfers in the country gathered in Jupiter’s prestigious The Bear’s Club for the Drive, Chip, & Putt Regional Qualifier.

The Drive, Chip, & Putt challenge is a free golf program for boys and girls ages 7-15 in four age divisions.

The competition at The Bear’s Club is one of 10 regional qualifiers across the United States. The top boy and girl finishers across the four age divisions from each regional qualifier move forward. Those 80 finalists will compete in the Drive, Chip, & Putt National Finals at Augusta National Golf Club the Sunday before the 2022 Masters Tournament.

The participants have risen through the ranks from a large pool of talent. The first local qualifying events earlier this year were held at 326 sites across the United States. Then, there were 60 subregional qualifiers, which advanced the two juniors in each age and gender division.

The Jupiter location where the children gathered is a course most golfers can only dream about. The Bear's Club was founded by golf legend Jack Nicklaus and his wife Barbara, who live in Palm Beach County. The fine private golf club was designed by Nicklaus Design, and is the home club of Nicklaus and his family.

One of the children in the competition was 6-year-old Cameron Middleton, who WPTV NewsChannel 5 has been following for his love for the sport and his talent. Middleton has already hit two holes-in-one on the course, while perfecting clever trick shots in his home. His big personality and incredible skill have earned him a growing fan base on Instagram.

During the regional qualifiers, each player competes in all three skills. They attempt three shots each in the categories of drive, chip and putt, for a total of 9 shots. There are winners in each of the skills, but the overall champion in each age category is the child with the most accumulated points in total.

During the drive skill, the players attempt three drives from the same tee area. A 40-yard wide grid is the target. In the chip skill, participants attempt three chips 10-15 yards from the hole, which are then measured from the center of the hole. In the putt skill, each participant putts from 6-, 15-, and 30-foot distances. The score is gathered with a measurement from the center of the hole.

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