A little over four years ago, golf in the Covar house moved to the next level as Reed and Anne Marie began participating in truly competitive events for the first time. I tried to temper my excitement about their new pursuit, but like any parent with a love for golf, it was difficult. My excitement was two-fold. I was happy because I knew that golf is truly a game of a lifetime and something I could always enjoy with them, but my greatest joy was the possibility that their golfing experiences as young adults would teach them the “lessons of life” that I had learned as a young golfer over 30 years ago.
Before I go any further, I want to point out that there are three children in the Covar household. Christina, our oldest, is a junior at South Carolina and even though she does not play golf, she will always remind her siblings that she was once the junior club champion at Pine Ridge Club. She retired her clubs following that victory, citing a lack of formidable competition. She spends her spare time studying with plans to attend medical school.
I was introduced to golf in 1969, by Ralph Scurry, a close family friend who had also spent time with me hunting and fishing. Till this day, I can hear him telling me to “always use the 4-iron on a downhill lie, fairway woods are much harder to hit”. He taught me that golf was an honorable game and that you could tell a lot about a person by how they acted on the golf course. My first trip to the Masters was made possible by Ralph.
My golf instruction as a kid was provided by the two Hamilton brothers, Jack and Mike. Jack was the head professional at Pine Ridge and Mike was the assistant. There were six or eight of us kids that really took a liking to the game and Jack spent many hours hauling us around the area playing in the local junior events during the summer. Most of our parents worked six days a week and weekday events would not have been possible without Jack’s efforts. Jack and Mike are both still in the golf business and I had the pleasure of playing in a pro-am with each of them in recent years. Many of us owe both of them a huge debt of gratitude for the countless hours spent with us during our youth.
Our juniors today would probably not believe that during the 1970’s, there were not endless tournaments to play in. The “summer tour” consisted mainly of the state junior in Lexington, the Florence Junior, the North Augusta Junior, and a series of one-day events sponsored by the SCPGA. I will always be grateful to the adults that spent their time organizing and running these events. Mr. & Mrs. Charlie Roundtree at the state junior, Mr. & Mrs. Dean Stoddard at the NA Junior, and Mrs. Clark at the Florence Junior were people that gave of their time to promote junior golf. Their efforts back then had a direct impact on the tremendous popularity of junior golf today.
For me, those summers spent playing junior golf allowed me to make “friends for a lifetime.” Now, many of us are walking the course again, just in a different role as spectator/parent. I think it is much easier to play the game than to watch your children play.
No matter how old we get, we are never too old to be taught a lesson in life. It took my son, Reed (12 at the time) to educate me on the importance of keeping sports in perspective. During our little league career (player & coach), our team lost a game which ended any hope of us winning the championship. He had pitched a great game but had given up a late home run to one of his buddies which won the game. On the way home, I could not let it go. In my eyes, I had lost. I had no concern for his feelings. I had completely missed the maturity he had shown handling the loss with class. Finally, after one too many comments from me, he looked at me and said, “Yes Daddy, we lost the game, but it’s JUST a game. Get over it”. We are never too old to be taught a “life lesson” and the instructor can sometimes be our children.
All of us have experienced the highs and lows of competitive golf, whether we are players or parents on the sidelines. The game means so much these days that it’s real easy to forget that it is JUST a game.
This past summer, Anne Marie won her first ever golf tournament, the CGA Twin States Championship in Gaffney. Reed and I were in Bluffton where he was playing in the CGA Juniors and Genna was with Anne Marie. She called us to relay the fantastic news of her victory and share her excitement with us. Not ten minutes later I received a call telling me that Genna’s mother had just died. Even though her health was failing rapidly, her death was unexpected and caught the entire family by surprise. Genna knew about her mother’s death before Anne Marie had completed her round and had been able to make it through without upsetting Anne Marie. We will forever be grateful to the wonderful support our family received from our “golfing family” that day and the days that followed.
When Ken Talbert and I started tossing around the idea of hosting a junior event at Mt. Vintage, we were both reminded of all the wonderful people our families had connected with through this wonderful game of golf. We both knew the impact the association with the game had meant to us as kids and later on as young adults, and could see that same impact taking place with our kids. No question, golf had been, and continues to be, good to both our families.
The decision to move forward with the event was easy. We wanted to draw the best field possible from the three states to ensure top caliber competition, provide a championship venue, make the event fun for the players, and give some recognition to the individuals that have given much toward the advancement of the game of golf. Our honorary captains this year have done just that.
Jeff Knox is known throughout Georgia as one of the best players in the state. He has competed in events on the national, state, and local level. This past year, he captured the Georgia Mid-Amateur and also competed in the Masters as a non-competing marker. Jeff is well known for his charitable efforts and has been instrumental in furthering amateur and junior golf in the Augusta area for years. His two older sons are accomplished players in their own right. Jefferson, his oldest, played golf at the University of Georgia and his middle child, Lee, is currently playing for the University of Alabama.
Chris Miller is no stranger to the juniors representing South Carolina this week. He has headed up the SCJGA for the last 8 years and he has become a household name among the SC juniors. He and his staff have created an association for SC juniors recognized by Golf Digest as the #1 junior golf developmental program in the United States.
Jason Cox serves as the Director of Junior Golf for the Carolinas Golf Association. His duties place him in the middle of juniors from both North and South Carolina. You will never see a harder worker than Jason during a golf tournament. Juniors in both states are very fortunate to have an advocate for junior golf like Jason. Both he and Chris Miller went out of their way to assist us with the planning of this event. The two states’ programs are blessed to have these two fine young men heading up our programs.
In closing, thanks again to our players, parents, volunteers, sponsors, and guests. Have fun!!!! Brad
Golfing Young & Giving Back
CAROLINAS - GEORGIA
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