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Chandler Taylor and Keith Hopkins, members of The First Tee of Brunswick County, attended a Golf Eagle and Ace Academy July 29-Aug. 3 in Nashville, Tenn. Forty-two participants from 21 chapters of The First Tee in nine states attended.
The week was an immersion in golf with two 18-hole rounds, eight nine-hole rounds and clinics dedicated to full swing, short game and course management. Each participant received a SeeMore Putter, a pair of Callaway golf shoes and other Callaway products, including hats, balls and equipment.
“We were really busy that week and we learned a lot,” said Keith, a rising sophomore at West Brunswick High School and golf team member. “PGA coaches took videos of our golf swing the first day, then analyzed them for us. Every day it was eight hours of golf; practicing, playing and lessons.”
“It was awesome,” said Chandler, an eighth-grade student at Shallotte Middle School and golf team member.
“We saw Dennis Walters, a paraplegic trick-shot artist. He hit all kinds of shots while sitting in a special golf cart. He had a club with three faces and hit three golf balls at the same time. He had a clubhead on the end of a fishing pole and hit balls with that.”
Walters is a professional golfer who lost the use of his legs in a golf cart accident and now travels the world doing exhibitions, teaching the game of golf.
“Mr. Walters told us to never give up our dreams, no matter what,” Chandler said. “He said, ‘Don’t let them tell you that you can’t do it.’ He’s an example of that because he still plays golf even though he can’t walk.”
“We stayed at Golf House, which is a dorm built by the Tennessee Golf Association and used by members of The First Tee,” Keith said. “We met all kinds of kids from all over and made a lot of friends. There’s a par-3 course there that has some really tough holes, holes where you have to hit your tee shot through a narrow opening through the trees.”
Chandler won the par-3 tournament for his age division.
“In that part of Nashville, there are a lot of big, big homes where movie stars and recording artists live,” Chandler said. “The houses were so big, I think you could see them from outer space.”
ELSA BONSTEIN is a golf columnist for the Beacon. Reach her at email@example.com.