Martin, 15, wins local PGA Drive, Chip and Putt event


Grayson Martin feels right at home at The First Tee of Central Arkansas.

The 15-year-old, whose father, Brad, is the course’s golf pro, said he plays the course almost every day during the summer.

The Little Rock course played host to a local PGA Drive, Chip and Putt event this past Saturday and Martin finished atop the leaderboard in the boys’ 14- to 15-year-old age division.

“It was my first time playing in this kind of event,” Martin said Tuesday.

The event’s point system took into account the distance on three tee-shots hit onto the fairway, three chipped balls onto a green with bullseye-type circles around the hole at one foot, five feet, eight feet and 10 feet, and three putts, one each from six feet, 10 feet and 30 feet.

Marin, who will be a freshman at White Hall this fall, finished the event with 149 points (44 driving, 55 chipping and 50 putting).

“My short game has to be good all the time,” he said. “I don’t usually drive the ball as far as the other kids I play with, so I have to keep it in the fairway.”

Martin won the oldest of four age groups (14-15, 12-13, 10-11 and 7-9); there are girls divisions at all four levels, too. In total, there are 256 local qualifying tournaments for this installment of the Drive, Chip and Putt championship.

Martin and all other top-three finishers from The First Tee advance to the subregional qualifier that will take place Aug. 3, at Lafortune Park Golf Course in Tulsa, Okla. The top-three finishers in each division there will move on to the regional qualifier, which will take place Sept. 9, at The Courses at Watters Creek in Plano, Texas.

In the fall, Martin will join the White Hall boys’ golf team. His sister Camryn Ruggeri, who will be a senior, has been on the school’s girls’ golf team since her freshman year, so Martin said he’s been around and practiced with the players a few times. He said he’s eager to officially join the team this season, at least in part, because it allows him to play more golf during the school year.

“During the summer I play every day,” he said. “During school, though, I didn’t get to play much since I wasn’t on the golf team this year. Next year, when I am I’ll start going to Pine Bluff Country Club after school every day.

“This year, I only got to play on the weekends and Mondays. I’d spend my weekends at The First Tee, and since my dad is off Mondays we’d usually go to Harbor Oaks and play nine (holes) or just hit some balls.”

Martin said his dad, who’s been the golf pro at The First Tee for 5 ½ years, is a good teacher.

“My dad helps me all the time,” he said. “Any time I need help with anything to do with my swing, he’s always there to help me.”