Dori Paschall has received phone calls from as far away as Michigan inquiring about a national drive, chip and putt competition that will end at Augusta National on the Sunday before Masters week.
But there's a little confusion.
Paschall, a Tennessee Golf Foundation regional director, has been planning and coordinating a TGF drive, chip and putt competition for kids 13 and under from the Chattanooga area only.
"Nobody outside of Augusta knew this national contest was happening," Paschall said. "The Tennessee Golf Foundation is doing one, but it has no connection. It kind of caught me off guard, and people think what I'm doing is associated with Augusta.
"Unfortunately, it's not. At least not this year."
The USGA, the Masters Tournament Foundation and the PGA of America announced last Monday the creation of their free junior skills competition in which boys and girls ages 7-15 will advance through local and regional qualifiers to the championship. It was heavily advertised during live coverage of the Masters.
Regional winners in each division advance to the finals, which will be held at Augusta National on the Sunday before the Masters in 2014 and will be produced and televised by The Golf Channel.
"Generations of players have been inspired by the dream of sinking a winning putt on the 18th green at Augusta National," club chairman Billy Payne said in a news release. "Now an exciting opportunity exists to make that dream a reality."
Both the local and national competitions are designed to increase interest in the game among children. And the skills contests are an easier way to introduce the game and enjoyment of it than with time-consuming and confusing situations that arise when kids play nine or 18 holes.
"It's a fun and inspiring environment for kids to work on their game and provide a little competition," Paschall said. "It's less intimidating than a golf match, but they can get a feel for competition and work on their skills. It's another engaging way to get involved. It's a steppingstone to engage kids in a big way."
For the national competition ending in Augusta, the closest local qualifying site is at Coosa Country Club in Rome, Ga., with a scheduled date of July 11. Rivermont Golf and Country Club in Alpharetta will be a local site on June 25.
The Georgia regional round will be on Aug. 5 at Atlanta Athletic Club. All applications are due by April 30.
"Among our many responsibilities as a governing body is finding creative ways to make the game more accessible to our nation's young people," USGA president Glen Nager said in the release. "The drive, chip and putt championship is an exciting new opportunity to fulfill this role."
The Tennessee Golf Foundation competition has four area qualifying sites: May 29 at Chatata Valley, June 5 at the First Tee of Chattanooga, June 26 at Valleybrook and July 8 at Signal Mountain. The local championship will be on July 23 during the Choo-Choo Invitational at Council Fire.
"It's a great thing and it's a way to get some younger kids involved in the game and gives them a chance to compete," Signal Mountain head pro Paul Helle said. "It's something that I'll be pushing not only to our juniors but to those who come to our junior camp."
David Uchiyama is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who began his tenure here in May 2001. His primary beats are UTC athletics — specifically men’s basketball and athletic department administration — and golf, which includes coverage from the PGA Tour to youth events. He also covers other high school sports, outdoor adventures, and contributes to other sections of the newspaper when necessary. David grew up in Salinas, Calif., and began working ...