When someone drives their golf ball more than 300 yards, at least one person is bound to notice. When that happens to be at the MGA Links at Mamantapett, the 18-hole, par-3 course in Norton owned and operated by the MGA, it is definitely going to get some attention.
That is what happened on Wednesday when PGA Tour member Patton Kizzire, in town for the Deutsche Bank Championship at nearby TPC Boston, displayed his skills to more than 100 youth who had come out for the annual MGA Links Skills Challenge & PGA Tour Player Exhibition.
As part of the standing relationship that the PGA Tour’s annual Labor Day Weekend event has with the MGA, Kizzire spent more than an hour with young golfers giving them instruction, answering questions, signing autographs and even allowing a few lucky kids to practice their drives in front of the large crowd who had gathered at the Norton course, a two mile drive from where the top-100 players on the PGA Tour will compete later this week.
“It’s nice to see the players do give back and that they take time out of their schedule to come to charity events like this,” said Joe McCabe, Executive Director of The First Tee of Massachusetts. “To be a part of the community and to especially work with kids and pass their experiences down to them is something those kids will always remember.”
Prior to Kizzire’s arrival, McCabe, his staff and a large contingent of volunteers hosted a free skills challenge and instruction session for all kids who were interested in attending, many of whom have participated in The First Tee of Massachusetts programs in the past.
Across the 18-hole, par-3 course, those volunteers set up stations where kids could both practice and compete against fellow golf enthusiasts their age.
Two chipping and two putting stations were set up in addition to a “Hole-In-One Challenge” and a “Full-Swing Challenge” that were also available to the more than 100 kids who joined the festivities. They had free range of all events and were able to rotate the various stages as they pleased for the 90-minute session.
As much as the kids enjoyed swinging the clubs themselves, the real excitement was the second half of the event, where the participants could learn first hand from a true golf professional.
Kizzire, a 30-year old golf professional enjoying his first year on the PGA Tour, spoke about several aspects about his life, inside and outside of golf. He explained how he got involved with the game at a young seven years old and how he continuously practiced through high school, college at Auburn University and to his eventual status today.
Prior to the PGA Tour, Kizzire explained how he battled through the mini-tour since turning pro in 2008 and how his hard work helped him to one his best years in his professional career, which included topping first-place on the Web.com Tour money list in 2015.
More than anything, Kizzire served as an inspiration for the many young golfers who spent their last days of summer on the course.
“To have this one-on-one opportunity for these kids with a professional golfer, and for that golfer to share their experiences, it gives these kids something to shoot for,” said McCabe. “Maybe that person becomes a role model for these kids in the future, whether it is Patton or some of the other players who have been here before.”
In addition to his long drive, likely one of the longest to ever be recorded at MGA Links at Mamantapett, Kizzire also planted a shot with his 56 degree wedge that landed within inches of the cup that sat at nearly 100 yards away on the course’s first tee, which brought a large applause from the audience members.
Kizzire is scheduled to tee off Hole No. 10 in the first round of the Deutsche Bank Championship on Friday, September 2 at 8:15 a.m. After today, there is no doubt he will have plenty of new followers as he competes against the field at TPC Boston.
The MGA and First Tee of Massachusetts program would like to extend a sincere thank you to the Deutsche Bank Championship and the PGA Tour in helping making this event a success and promoting golf to the next generation players. This would not be possible without their help.