Jackson Fogelson wins putting competition at Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals

Apr. 12—BEMIDJI — Twelve-year-old Jackson Fogelson is back at the Bemidji Town and Country Club, honing his game after a whirlwind trip to Augusta National Golf Club for the Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals.

Jackson won the putting competition en route to an eighth-place overall finish in the 12- to 13-year-old boys division on Sunday, April 7.

"It was probably the best trip I've ever taken," he said.

Thousands of youngsters ages 7 to 15 attempt to make it to Augusta for the finals, but only 10 boys and girls in each age group qualify. Jackson did so in October by winning his division at a regional event in Illinois.

He traveled to Augusta, Ga., with his dad Mike and mom Whitney on Friday and was treated like royalty through Sunday's competition and beyond. Besides plenty of practice opportunities, the contestants were honored at a banquet, took a group photo and had access to the Augusta clubhouse and players lounge.

On Monday they were able to walk the grounds to watch professional golfers play a practice round in preparation for the Masters.

"Dad and Mom both were along for a really fun ride," Mike said. "It was nothing but first class. Just getting to go to the Masters is awesome, but then getting to go places where most people don't get to see was even better. We had a fun time in the pro shop, and bought lots of stuff. For any golf fan, that's the mecca."

The televised Drive, Chip and Putt competition began Sunday morning, and Jackson's division started with driving. The first competitor, a stronger 13-year-old, pounded his second drive 270 yards after hitting his first one out of bounds.

"That was a little bit intimidating," said Jackson, a sixth grader at St. Philip's School. "My dad said I'm about eight months younger than everybody there."

Mike added, "We knew that the driving portion of the competition was not going to be the easiest part to compete in. Jackson is not huge. These guys were swinging as hard as they can, and that's not Jackson's game right now."

But Jackson did hit two drives right down the middle, the best one going 191 yards. He placed ninth out of 10.

Chipping came next, and although that is one of Jackson's strengths, he struggled on a green that was different from the one he had prepared on.

"On the practice green I would land (my chips) short and let them roll out," Jackson said. "On my first chip (in competition) I landed it short, and it just stopped right away. It ended up costing me like 12 feet."

As a result, he finished seventh in that event.

"We had a nice break before the putting competition," Mike said, "and Jackson reassessed his goals for the day and said, 'I want to win putting.'

He went on to do just that. The first putt, a 30-footer that started uphill and then turned downhill, stopped inches short of the hole. The second putt, a 15-footer, hit the lip and ended an inch away.

"After the chipping I knew I was already out of it," Jackson said. "But I thought I might as well get 10 points in putting, because there's nothing else you can do. I probably practiced for an hour. I wanted to make sure I was ready for it."

Besides a bag full of memories, Jackson will be reminded of his special trip every time he pulls clubs out of his bag. Among the pro shop purchases were Masters head covers for four of his clubs.

"By a long shot those were my favorite things from the pro shop," he said.