I’ve been covering golf for twenty-something years and I’ve never seen anything like this.
If you’re a golf fan, and if you’re interested in what the future holds for the game, then one of these days I highly recommend that you make your way down to the tiny hamlet of Graniteville, South Carolina—that’s about 20 minutes east of Augusta on I-20—one April weekend for the Sage Valley Junior Invitational. once a year the gates of a (very) exclusive club—think Augusta National, only more private—are opened to 50 or so of the world’s best junior golfers. Treated not as much like royalty as they are like favorite grandkids, the juniors stay on property (their parents can come watch, but must stay elsewhere), and are welcomed by the membership for a week of immersion in competition and camaraderie, with a 54-hole stroke play event interspersed with practice rounds, dinners with members and exhibitions by the likes of long-drive champions Maurice Allen and Phillis Meti, and an evening with Rory McIlroy.—all of it on a course that’s breathtakingly pretty.
It’s not often that I get the opportunity to work in an environment where I’m truly blown away by a kind of event—and a golf course—that I’ve never had the chance to experience before, but this was one of those times.