I play golf for fun. Or at least that's the plan when I tee off.
But part of that fun comes from hitting good shots and better lies aid that pursuit. Along with the more than 18 clubs in my bag, I also carry a shoe iron and have perfected the fluff-up. I also am 100 percent on gimmie putts, which grow in length in direct correlation with how many strokes I have already accumulated. It's good from six feet down hill, if I am putting for an 11. If I am in the trees, I may as well hit off the top of the pine straw to punch out. I mean, I count that stroke.
That is why Emerson Newsome vexes me.
A month ago in the Pars World Open in Augusta, Newsome led after the first day, and on his 14th hole he slammed the ball to the left of the green into the "deep weeds." He found his ball and took his practice swings. He addressed the ball and in his back swing it rolled down nearly a full rotation.
The rest of his group stood on the green, far enough away to not see a thing.
Emerson stopped his back swing.
"I told them I was going to take my stroke penalty and replace the ball," Emerson said.
He did it without a thought. The patellar reflex of his morality is beyond admirable.
And Emerson is 14 by just a few months. Embroiled in the age of selfishness. Yet in an instant he took the highest road.
"That's just my personality," he said.
It's a road I detour with every fluff-up and mulligan. I'd like to think I would, in a tournament at least, call the stroke on myself.
But at 14, I am certain I would have let it slide, like a sly elbow on a layup or a grasp of some jersey on the offensive line. What's one stroke?
To Emerson, a 5.3 handicap, it meant the tournament crown and a trip to the Pars World Open Championship in San Diego.
"I just know it was the right thing to do," he said. "I just knew a pro golfer would do the same thing, so I made the right choice."
Perhaps not all pro golfers. But if Emerson one day turns pro, I'll know what he'll do.
And maybe he'll just guilt me into banging out that buried lie in the rough next time, or at least taking the stroke when the ball rolls off the fluff I placed it on.
Burger qualifies for U.S. Junior Girls Championship
With a low-round 70 in a sectional tournament at Independence Golf Club in Midlothian, Va., Emilie Burger earned a spot in this year's U.S. Junior Girls Championship.
Burger shot a 70 to win the sectional event by one stroke and beat St. Simons Island's Amelia Hill by three. Burger and Hill were two of just five Georgia golfers in the international sectional qualifying.
Burger was the only local golfer in the field.
Wright, Johnson finish 1, 2 in Junior Classic
Kendall Wright of Suwanee and Buford's Abby Johnson took the top two spots in the Fallen Oak Junior Classic in Saucier, Miss. on the state's Gulf Coast.
Wright shot a 74-75 for 149 and Johnson 79-79 for 158 on the Tom Fazio-designed course.
While in Saucier, Johnson also finished ninth with an 86 in the U.S. Girl's Junior Qualifier at The Grand Bear Golf Club.
Dacula man finishes second at St. Ives
Chris Gwyn of Dacula shot a 73 to finish second in Flight 1 of the Amateur Golfers' Association Tour's event at St. Ives Country Club.
Stone Mountain's Jimmy Blackmon took second in Flight 3 with an 83 and Norcross' Jim Turner won the net scoring flight with a net 58.
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