Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Teeing off for Youth ; U.S. Kids Golf Brings Opportunities for Children to Learn, Enjoy the Game Locally

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Teeing off for Youth ; U.S. Kids Golf Brings Opportunities for Children to Learn, Enjoy the Game Locally

Article excerpt

bcooper@cnpapers.com 304-348-4806

Maddox Potter has been golfing nearly half of his entire life.

That's saying something, considering he is turning 8 this summer.

Last year, Maddox took his game to Columbus, Ohio, to participate in that city's U.S. Kids Golf local tour. Columbus was the closest USKG tour location. This year, however, Maddox can play in the USKG a little closer to home as his father, Davey, has helped bring the USKG to West Virginia.

"That's a great tour, but it was wearing on us having to drive to Columbus every weekend, Davey said.

"We had to make a lot of stops and it got tiring, Maddox added.

They approached Brad Ullman, the executive director of the West Virginia Golf Association, and Greg Hubbard, the director of the local tours for U.S. Kids Golf in North America, and were able to get a local tour teed off in West Virginia.

The first USKG Charleston local tour event will take place this Sunday at the Stonewall Resort in Roanoke. It will continue through the end of May with stops in Dunbar, Charleston, Tornado, Barboursville and Lavalette before finishing up with the tour championship at The Greenbrier May 22. There is also a planned local fall tour.

"Right now, we just want to get the word out, Davey explained. "The numbers will grow as the tour moves along. The first spring season, we are hoping to average 30 to 35 kids per tournament. Then, in the fall, we're hoping to grow that to 40 to 50.

The USKG is a global organization for children ages 5 to 14, allowing for age-appropriate competition and yardages.

"If (Maddox) plays in some other youth tournaments as a 7-year- old, he may be teeing it up on the same yardage as a 12- or 13-year- old would, Davey said. "It really levels the playing field when it comes to age.

The tour gives kids an opportunity to advance their game in a fun environment. Parents are encouraged to participate, even serving as caddies. In the younger age groups, caddies are required.

The top five finishers in each age group receive priority status by USKG to take part in major events.

"Priority status allows them to get into regional tournaments, state invitationals and the possibility to get into the world championship in Pinehurst (North Carolina), Davey said.

For Davey Potter, it's important to bring a local youth golf tour for the younger kids.

"Right now, there's a void at that age group from 5 to 12 to 14 years old, where they had the opportunity to play golf but not competitive golf. This fills that void for younger kids to be able to enjoy the game of golf.

Davey was a multi-sport athlete at South Charleston High School, playing football, basketball, baseball, tennis and, of course, golf. He graduated in 1995 and went on to play college baseball at West Virginia State, while continuing to play some intramural golf.

He would get married and have three sons, with Maddox being the oldest. His two youngest Lennox (age 4) and Brooks (11 months) also have some enjoyment for certain aspects of the game. …

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