Masters Tournament Chairman Billy Payne on Monday announced the start of the Drive, Chip & Putt Championship, whose finals will be held next year at Augusta National Golf Club the Sunday before the Masters.
Payne made the announcement alongside Glen Nager, the president of the U.S. Golf Association, and Ted Bishop, the president of the PGA of America.
The free, nationwide junior skills competition is open to boys and girls ages 7-15, with four age classifications.
“No doubt we believe April 6, 2014, will be a very special day for these kids, one they will surely never forget,” Payne said.
Augusta National will allow several thousand ticketed patrons to watch the finals. Part of the event will be held on the tournament practice range, and the final competition will be a putting event on the 18th green. The championship will air on the Golf Channel.
There will be qualifying events nationwide, with 88 finalists coming to Augusta. Local qualifying will be from June 1 to July 31, with regional qualifying Aug. 1-31. Bishop said more than 100 PGA facilities will play host to qualifying events.
“We have long admired the efforts of the USGA and the PGA of America to grow the game, and we are so pleased to be afforded the opportunity to join them in this very special initiative,” Payne said. “We all share the belief that if we can make golf fun, kids will come and, particularly, because they can dream about coming to this very special and historic location.”
Longtime Masters patron Jay Basinger, the father of Connor, 7, and Luke, 9, said Augusta National’s playing host to the event is a big plus.
“I think any way to incorporate the kids, they’re just getting into the sport and providing more avenues like this, things where they can come out and have fun, is always good,” said Basinger, of Pinehurst, N.C.