Golf’s Young Pups Spark Optimism

ATLANTA, GEORGIA | Who says golf is dying? If you listen to the doomsayers, you’d think that the only people left in our game are blue bloods who tie sweaters around their necks and call each other Ducky, or gray-haired cranks yelling, “Get off my lawn.”
This year’s U.S. Amateur should put an end to that myth once and for all. Of the 312 players who ventured out to Atlanta Athletic Club with small bags and big dreams, 56 of them were either still in high school or just graduated in the spring. And one, Will Thomson, still attends Barker Road Middle School in Pittsford, N.Y. He is 13, the youngest player to qualify for America’s oldest championship. He gets his braces off in October.
“That’s really big,” Thomson said of his date with the orthodontist. “Not as big as the U.S. Amateur, obviously. This is really cool. But that’s going to be cool, too.”
Thomson had a respectable showing, which is to say that he didn’t finish last. His 155 total beat 52 players even though he missed match play by a mile.
“I wasn’t expecting everybody to be coming up and congratulating me and supporting me so much,” he said. “Some people are shooting really high numbers in high school matches so the competition out here is way better and the length and difficulty of the course is so much different. It’s a lot tougher out here.”
That earnest and innocent observation sparked a hearty chuckle from all who heard it.


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