In 2004, Clay Chappell started a junior golf program in Oconee County. Many children have been involved with the USJGA over the years, but from the beginning Anna Buchannan, Crocket Floyd, and Mckenzie Hedrick where always present. Even though they all attended different schools and have very different personalities, the girls have formed a special friendship.
Clay Chappell quickly realized the kids needed to gain experience playing on a course. Lane Creek Golf Course allowed his students to walk a few holes every Monday night. Because of the number of students that attended he had to separate them into groups. The girls were always paired together. Their first time out on a course, the golf bags they carried where almost bigger than they were. Along the way, they picked up a fourth playing partner, Ansley Brock. When they were out on the course together they would talk about boys, fashion, and what snacks they could trade. Sometimes they would even talk about golf.
They are all fierce competitors. Each one of them has the ability to win. They wouldn’t be the golfers they are today without the competitive drive to try and best each other. At the end of a match they are still friends and ultimately they are still teammates from a bygone era. One of the first times they ever played against each other was in middle school. Mckenzie and Crocket represented MBMS and Ansley was playing for OCMS. Although they were getting ready to play in a match, they were still willing to help each other. Ansley had a problem with her hair and Mckenzie helped fix it.
In the spring of 2011, all four girls ended their time with USJGA by helping launch the Junior Golf League that Chappell initiated. Each of them was the lead player for one of the teams. They played nine holes on a weekly basis. On each of the teams there was also at least one younger girl that they mentored. Golf has brought these girls together, and Chappell has realized that their friendship has fostered increased interest in girls’ golf in the area.
“Working with juniors is such a delight,” says Chappell. Their enthusiasm and energy are contagious. Golf teaches honesty, integrity, manners, and discipline … all of which our youth need. At the same time, it’s meant to be fun. I’m honored to be able to take my passion for golf and pass it on to others.”
In talking with the girls about their experience, all of them say that they have so much fun when they are together. Golf is frustrating at times, but it helps to laugh about a bad shot when you have friends around you. They have all had moments of aggravation with the game, but the one piece of advice that they have is, “Don’t quit!”
The three golfing girls don’t see each other through weekly lessons anymore. Each of them is getting ready to start their high school golf careers. Anna will be playing for Athens Academy; Ansley will be playing for Oconee County High School. Crocket and Mckenzie will be teammates playing for NOHS. When they play against each other in high school matches there will still be big hugs and good luck wishes at the beginning of the match.
Golf is a lifetime sport. With the skills that they have acquired, each of them has the potential to play golf in college, and chances are they eventually will play against each other at that level. But whether they end up as teammates or opponents, these three girls will still be friends and play golf for years to come.
The USJGA is a 501(c)3 organization. For more information, visit www.ultimatejuniorlesson.com.
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