Harwinton duo tees it up where the big boys play
CROMWELL – Some of the top players in the world came to Connecticut for the Travelers Championship and while most of us dream of playing on a course where the stars go to work it was a reality for a pair of young Harwinton golfers.
Tyler Goulet and Colby Norton earned a chance to tee it up at TPC River Highlands during Travelers week as both competed in the Golf Digest Junior Pro-Am on Tuesday, playing nine holes on the PGA Tour layout.
In its third year, the Golf Digest Junior Pro-Am featured 36 junior golfers along with their junior caddies and a PGA Tour professional playing in a nine-hole scramble format on the front nine of the course.
Goulet and Norton were able to earn a spot in the field as junior golfers from the Connecticut Section PGA and The First Tee of Connecticut. Players earned spots by fundraising for their respective organizations through the tournament’s Birdies for Charity program or submitting a letter of exemption.
On a perfect evening for golf, Goulet and Norton both got to play the front nine at TPC River Highlands. Goulet was grouped with Ian Marshall, the head pro at Watertown Golf Club who qualified by winning the lone spot allocated to the Connecticut Section PGA by winning the Spring Stroke Play championship last month.
Norton played with Patrick Reed, an up-and-coming pro who was an All American while winning back-to-back national championships at Augusta State.
“We had a blast, it was a lot of fun,” Reed said. “This is actually the first tournament I've played that had a junior pro-am which was awesome, we had a great time.”
Both Marshall and Reed were great with their groups, engaging, giving pointers and tips and even entertaining questions from friends and family in the gallery.
"This is what it's all about, the next generation of players," Marshall said. "There is a lot of talk about growing the game and you have to start with the young players, they are the future of the game."
Along with some early nerves and some laughs along the way, there was some good golf played too. Goulet drained a long birdie putt to highlight his round and Norton executed a tough chip on his team's final hole, his ball stopping inches from the cup for a tap-in par.
"It was a lot of fun," Norton said. "I was a little nervous at first but I had fun. The course was really nice and it was great to get to play on it."
"The course was great and making that putt for birdie was definitely the highlight of the day for me," Goulet said. "It was good because the course is nice but tough, the greens were fast and it's definitely different from the other courses I get to play."
It was a different experience for the pros as well and one they found enjoyable. Both Marshall and Reed were impressed with their groups in terms of play and how they conducted themselves on the course.
"The kids were great," said Reed, who won the Monday qualifier to get into the Travelers and finished tied for 47th at 4-under. "It's a lot different from when I played junior golf, no screaming and club kicking. They played great, had some real nice swings and handled themselves great on the golf course."
Marshall felt the same way about his group, saying you can tell a lot about a person by how they play the game.
"From my experience you can tell a lot about a person by the way they handle themselves on the golf course. It's a game of honesty and integrity," Marshall said. "My kids were awesome. You can see they are good players, but you could also tell they are great kids from the way they conducted