By: Staff Reports | Gwinnett Citizen
(L) Mitch Hogan, South Gwinnett High School golf team (M) Grayson Britt, George Walton Academy’s golf team (R) Drew Hutchinson, Brookwood High School's golf team captain is ready for the links.

Leading the way to the green
Local student athletes excel with golf league

By Beth Volpert

Community involvement is crucial to every sport. The adage, see a need, fill a need, comes into play often when community leaders have a few moments of precious free time. For Don Britt of Summit Chase Country Club and Tim Gaines, Park Administrator at SGAA, the needs they see are nearly endless, but they work hard to provide avenues to fill those gaps.

team-ret 440

2014 Boys Gwinnett Open, Palmer Division, 1st Place - Coach Alan Yancey, Michael Clay, Alex Quinn, Conner Dickinson, Dylan Heaser, Ethan Ryan, Brady Narey

In the case of youth sports, the two have a proven track record of creatively filling needs that range from hockey to futsol and everything in between. Golf falls solidly in that category.

To fill the need of good, affordable golf instruction at a beginner level, the Middle School Golf Leaguewas formed in 2010. Other local golf facilities joined forces through a combined partnership to provide instructional and playing opportunities to young golfers grades 5 through the fall semester of 9th grade. The young men and women of the league enjoy competitive play while learning basic fundamentals, course etiquette and good sportsmanship. From that league would come seasoned players ready for the challenge of high school and beyond. “The idea is that the juniors are the future of our club and industry; we welcome the opportunity to provide the training and means for these young athletes and potentially future members or golf professionals,” says Don Britt of Summit Chase CC. “However their journey began, we commend them for achieving their goals and we are proud to proclaim them as part of our Summit Chase family.”

This month, Summit Chase is celebrating twenty-five very special young men and women. Each student was accepted onto their high school’s varsity or JV golf teams. Many of these student athletes enjoyed the instruction provided by the MSGL through Summit Chase Country Club.

Parents ands students alike have an appreciation for the role that MSGL has played in preparing young golfers for a strong future in the game. Jeff and Stacy Heaser have enjoyed watching their son, Dylan, grow into the game of golf through his time on the links at Summit Chase. They now watch him as he plays for the Grayson HS team. “Summit Chase provided the foundation to where Dylan’s golf game is today,” says Jeff. “David and Kenny do a great job with the youth of Gwinnett County!” Stacy agrees, “Summit Chase has been a home away from home for Dylan over the past few years.   He could have set up a cot and Summit Chase would have given him a pillow.” The two have enjoyed watching great golfing talent grow in the community.

Dylan did spend a great deal of time at Summit Chase learning and improving his game. “It was Summit Chase that helped me develop and pursue a dream I once had,” says Dylan. “Without Summit Chase I could never have gone from shooting in the hundreds down to down in the 70s.  Summit Chase provided me with a lot of great memories.”

Archer HS’s Kyler Stephens also credits his time in the MSGL and Summit Chase for his fine tuning his golfing abilities and general life skills. “Learning to play golf compares to solving problems in real life,” says Kyler. “Whether you hit a bad shot or are just having a bad day; don’t give up, find a solution.” Kyler applies his skills to school and sports in order to maintain a balance in his life. 

The idea that golf could be more than just fun with her dad materialized for St. Pius junior Brittany Tarnowski sometime in elementary school. “Around the age of four, my dad took me to the driving range and I loved it,” says Brittany. “I would like to carry this sport on to college with me.” Brittany’s appreciation for her golf pro’s at Summit Chase inspires her to push herself individually so that her team performance improves. “I encourage any young woman to pursue her dreams,” says Brittany. “Surround yourself with incredible people who support you and you will find friends and success.”

Brookwood senior and golf team captain, Drew Hutchinson, feels much the same way as many of the other young golfers who came through the MSGL. “Summit Chase is probably one of the most encouraging organizations I’ve run into,” says Drew. “Don, Van and the pros were always available to guide us through the game so that we could improve.” As team captain, Drew knows the importance of how to be a team player. “Golf is different than many conventional sports,” says Drew. “There is a lot of personal responsibility for your own play, but it affects the team also.” 

There is probably not a kid in the entire program who understands what it means to be a team player more than Grayson Britt. Being a part of the Britt family at Summit Chase means being a team player in work, family and fun. “It is different for me because I know the Summit Chase course really well,” says Grayson. “When I’m with my team and we play at different courses, I have to adapt quickly to the changes.” Grayson credits playing with his dad and grandfather who helped him fine tune his game as they played together as a family. Grayson encourages any kid who is even slightly interested to come give the game a try. “The earlier you start, the better you will be; I wish I had begun playing even earlier.” 

For South Gwinnett’s Mitch Hogan, golf has taught him ways to deal with every day life. “I have had great coaches here at South and through the MSGL,” says Mitch. “Golf has taught me to keep going through even if you are having a bad day.” His self-described ability to “fix” himself as he goes along in golf or studies has had a huge impact on how he has chosen to live his life. Mitch will graduate this year and plans to attend UGA and study finance or international business. He would like to play on a club level golf team to keep himself involved in the game. 

Just like any sport, it is important to have great coaching. Coaching comes before and after games, but in competition, most great coaches leave the application of skills practiced to the player. “I would advise kids who are interested in any sport to get involved at some level as early as possible,” says Don Britt. “Having a supportive coaching staff, pros and peers who share the same goals is crucial.” Britt has played sports his entire life and coaching is a part of the daily routine. “Kids have a great deal of talent,” says Britt. “For the golfers, we think joining a league like our Middle School Golf League will give them an advantage when it comes to trying out at the high school level.” 

Don and Tim can still be found at the lunch table talking about the community; what it needs and who can be talked into providing it. Most times though, kids are at the top of the conversation list. Advocating for them in sports and life is a lifelong passion for the pair. The MSGL is evidence of what can happen when great ideas come together for the benefit of the youth of the community. 

solution.” Kyler applies his skills to school and sports in order to maintain a balance in his life. 

The idea that golf could be more than just fun with her dad materialized for St. Pius junior Brittany Tarnowski sometime in elementary school. “Around the age of four, my dad took me to the driving range and I loved it,” says Brittany. “I would like to carry this sport on to college with me.” Brittany’s appreciation for her golf pro’s at Summit Chase inspires her to push herself individually so that her team performance improves. “I encourage any young woman to pursue her dreams,” says Brittany. “Surround yourself with incredible people who support you and you will find friends and success.”

Brookwood senior and golf team captain, Drew Hutchinson, feels much the same way as many of the other young golfers who came through the MSGL. “Summit Chase is probably one of the most encouraging organizations I’ve run into,” says Drew. “Don, Van and the pros were always available to guide us through the game so that we could improve.” As team captain, Drew knows the importance of how to be a team player. “Golf is different than many conventional sports,” says Drew. “There is a lot of personal responsibility for your own play, but it affects the team also.” 

There is probably not a kid in the entire program who understands what it means to be a team player more than Grayson Britt. Being a part of the Britt family at Summit Chase means being a team player in work, family and fun. “It is different for me because I know the Summit Chase course really well,” says Grayson. “When I’m with my team and we play at different courses, I have to adapt quickly to the changes.” Grayson credits playing with his dad and grandfather who helped him fine tune his game as they played together as a family. Grayson encourages any kid who is even slightly interested to come give the game a try. “The earlier you start, the better you will be; I wish I had begun playing even earlier.” 

For South Gwinnett’s Mitch Hogan, golf has taught him ways to deal with every day life. “I have had great coaches here at South and through the MSGL,” says Mitch. “Golf has taught me to keep going through even if you are having a bad day.” His self-described ability to “fix” himself as he goes along in golf or studies has had a huge impact on how he has chosen to live his life. Mitch will graduate this year and plans to attend UGA and study finance or international business. He would like to play on a club level golf team to keep himself involved in the game. 

Just like any sport, it is important to have great coaching. Coaching comes before and after games, but in competition, most great coaches leave the application of skills practiced to the player. “I would advise kids who are interested in any sport to get involved at some level as early as possible,” says Don Britt. “Having a supportive coaching staff, pros and peers who share the same goals is crucial.” Britt has played sports his entire life and coaching is a part of the daily routine. “Kids have a great deal of talent,” says Britt. “For the golfers, we think joining a league like our Middle School Golf League will give them an advantage when it comes to trying out at the high school level.” 

Don and Tim can still be found at the lunch table talking about the community; what it needs and who can be talked into providing it. Most times though, kids are at the top of the conversation list. Advocating for them in sports and life is a lifelong passion for the pair. The MSGL is evidence of what can happen when great ideas come together for the benefit of the youth of the community.

 
Congratulations to the following
Summit Chase Junior Golfers

ARCHER HIGH SCHOOL
Boys Junior Varsity - Kyler Stephens, Matthew McDaniel

 
BROOKWOOD HIGH SCHOOL
Boys Varsity - Jack Bleckley, Shawn Chong, Chase Coleman,
Blaine Ewing, Drew Hutchinson, Konner McCoy, Jonathan Terry, 
Alex Weisel and Phillip Westberry.
Girls Varsity – Kaitlyn Cundiff

GEORGE WALTON ACADEMY
Boys Junior Varsity - Grayson Britt

GRAYSON HIGH SCHOOL
Boys Varsity - Michael Clay, Conner Dickinson, Austin Haynes, 
Dylan Heaser, Brady Narey, Alex Quinn, and Ethan Ryan.
Boys Junior Varsity – Dalton Watford
Girls Varsity - Taylor Pender and Jen Spangler

SOUTH GWINNETT HIGH SCHOOL
Boys Varsity – Mitch Hogan

ST. PIUS X CATHOLIC HIGH SCHOOL
Girls Varsity - Brittany Tarnowski