GLENVIEW, Ill. – March 4, 2020 –
The Illinois PGA hosted a Drive, Chip and Putt Media Day at Medinah Country Club on Tuesday, March 3 to capture the journeys of two Illinois junior golfers who will be competing in the National Finals at Augusta National Golf Club. Logan Keeter, 11, of Northbrook, Ill. and Reese Wallace, 11, of South Barrington, Ill. will compete at the Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals on the eve of The Masters week on Sunday, April 5.
“We are thrilled that two local players qualified for the National Finals at Augusta from our PGA Section,” said Carrie Williams, executive director of the Illinois PGA Section. “Drive, Chip and Putt is such a wonderful program and competition for young players to test their skills and have fun.”
The Illinois PGA Section administers nine Local Qualifying events and two Sub-Regional events throughout the state during the summer. Children, ages 7-15, participate in their respective age division at each competition. The top-three finishers at the Local Qualifiers earn a spot in one of two Illinois PGA Sub-Regionals. From there, the top-two finishers in each age group from each Sub-Regional advance to the Regional Qualifier. The Regional Qualifier serves as the final stage before the National Final. The winners from each age group at each Regional Qualifier nationwide earn a spot in the National Finals.
Keeter and Wallace were among the 1,346 junior golfers who participated in the Illinois PGA’s nine local qualifying series. They both finished in the top-two of their age divisions at their respective Sub-Regionals. The Illinois PGA Sub-Regionals featured 213 youth golfers. Tens of thousands junior golfers participate in Drive Chip and Putt each year.
Keeter’s journey to Augusta started back in June of 2019 at Pine Meadow Golf Club. Registering the highest score in the driving competition with 29 points and the second highest points (55) in the putting competition, he finished in third place in the Boys 10-11 age division to qualify for the Sub-Regional at Countryside Golf Club.
Keeter took first place at the Sub-Regional, again recording the best score at the driving competition (39) and adding the top score in the putting competition (50) to advance to the Regional Final at Interlachen Golf Club in Minnesota. He finished in first place at the Regional, prevailing over the 11 other contestants in his age division and qualifying for the National Finals in just his first time participating in the Drive, Chip and Putt program.
“This is an amazing experience to share with my dad, who got me into golf,” said Keeter. “I never imagined getting this far when I started playing. I got into golf this year and it’s my first time competing in Drive, Chip and Putt. I started off just playing for fun, but after I played in PGA Jr. League, I really got into the game and I started to get a little more serious.”
Keeter will look to keep his putter hot in the finals and hopes to make golf a career in the future.
“I think putting is my strength. I’m more consistent at putting than I am in the other skills. You never know if I’m going to whiff a chip in front of everyone or hit a drive out of bonds, but I can rely on my putting to get some points,” said Keeter. “I really enjoy golf and I would like to keep playing and eventually have a golf related career, not necessarily as player on the PGA Tour, but maybe a club fitter or a golf course architect.”
Wallace’s National Finals campaign began with a first-place finish at the Effingham Country Club Local Qualifier in June of 2019. Wallace recorded the highest score in all three competitions en route to her first-place finish. Her next stop was the Sub-Regional Qualifier at Oak Brook Golf Club, where she took second place and advanced to the Regional Qualifier at Colorado Golf Club. Wallace posted the highest score in the drive competition (39) and the second highest putt score with 50 points, but finished in a tie for first with a total of 134 points. Wallace would go on to win in a playoff to take home first place in the Girls 10-11 age division and qualify for the National Finals at Augusta on her 11th birthday.
“Qualifying on my birthday was an awesome gift. I also share my birthday with my parent’s anniversary, so it was nice for all us to celebrate,” said Wallace. “It’s amazing. I had no words when I won. It’s awesome to know that I am going to Augusta where there is so much golf history, past champions and awesome golfers that have won there. It’s also exciting that some of them will be there when we are.”
Unlike, Keeter, Wallace has been striving for this day for the past six years. She too believes that her putter will help separate her from the pack.
“I’ve played in Drive, Chip and Putt six times and I’ve been to the Regional a few times, I’ve been so close to getting to the Finals and it just never happened, until now,” said Wallace. “I think putting is my strength in this competition, I like to make a lot of putts.”
Eighty junior golfers representing 30 U.S. states, two Canadian provinces and France have earned their spot to compete in the seventh annual Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals. Conducted in partnership with the Masters Tournament, the PGA of America and the USGA, Drive, Chip and Putt is a free, nationwide youth golf development program open to boys and girls, ages 7-15, in four age divisions. The three-pronged competition tests the skills essential to playing the game – accuracy in driving, chipping and putting.
In partnership with Medinah Country Club, the Illinois PGA administered and hosted a Regional Qualifier for the first time in both 2015 and 2016. This year, the Illinois PGA will once again be administering nine Local Qualifiers and two Sub-Regional Qualifiers, and will partner with Medinah Country Club to administer and host the Regional Qualifier on Saturday, September 12. It will feature the top finishers from the Sub-Regional Qualifiers from Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin and parts of Missouri.
“We are thrilled to be hosting the Regional again,” said Marty DeAngelo, Director of Golf at Medinah Country Club. “The PGA reached out to us in 2015 and asked if Medinah would be willing to host a Regional. As soon as I presented the idea to the Medinah golf committee and board of directors, it was something that they jumped on and something they really wanted to be a part of. It’s an event we would gladly host every year.”
The PGA of America rotates the Midwest Regional around to various Championship facilities in nearby states to even out participant travel from year to year. But Medinah always remained interested in hosting the Regional and will get that chance again in 2020.
“We let the PGA know that we’re interested in hosting the Regional every time it is in the Chicagoland Area,” said DeAngelo. “We were honored when the Section called us last year and said the Regional was coming back to Chicago and asked us to host. This is something that Medinah Country Club wants to host any chance that it can. Drive, Chip and Putt is such a great initiative. It has so many positives to grow the game of golf and it introduces thousands of junior golfers to the game. That aligns perfectly with what we want to do here at Medinah, and we are happy to be involved.”
“We are very excited to be bringing the Drive, Chip and Putt Regional back to the Chicagoland Area,” said Williams. “We are grateful to have both PGA leaders and the members at a club as historic and prestigious as Medinah Country Club be so interested in this program and we can’t wait for this year’s season to get underway.”
The 2020 Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals will be hosted at Augusta Country Club on Sunday, April 5 and will air live on the Golf Channel. To register for the 2021 Drive, Chip and Putt season please visit ipga.com.
About the Illinois PGA/Illinois PGA Foundation
The Illinois Section of the PGA of America is a professional organization serving the men and women golf professionals in northern and central Illinois who are the recognized experts in growing, teaching and managing the game of golf. The Illinois PGA is responsible for the administration of competitive golf tournaments, educational opportunities, support programs and growth of the game initiatives. With more than 800 members and apprentices, the Illinois PGA is one of the 41 regional Sections that comprise the PGA of America. The Illinois PGA Foundation focuses its community efforts on promoting the goodwill and growth of the game with an emphasis on activities that benefit youth. Foundation initiatives include: GolfWorks Illinois, Youth-based Scholarship Funds and the Illinois Golf Hall of Fame. For more information about the Illinois PGA and the Illinois PGA Foundation, please visit www.ipga.com and join us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
# # #
Illinois PGA Communications