MANNING - Clarendon County's Youth Golf Program is creating winners.
Saturday was the perfect day for the Clarendon County Youth Golf Tournament at Shannon Greens Golf Course. Temperatures were in the low 70s. A light breeze kept the pin flags waving, and a bright blue sky allowed golfers to watch their golf balls fly toward the greens.
Some golf balls did find the trees, sand traps and out-of-bounds areas, but they weren't hit by the youth golfers who participated in the three-man, captain's choice tournament held to raise money for the county's Youth Golf Program.
The youth golfers gave their adult competitors all they could handle and then some with three out of the youth golf program finishing in first place, one youth golfer coming in third place and another youth golfer finishing out of the top five.
First place went to the three-man team of Jacob Richburg, Hunter White and Robert Dykes, all 17. Stephen Ard, 13, and his team finished in third place, while Brice Laney, 17, and his team finished outside the top five.
"It was a very close tournament," said David Burton, golf professional at Shannon Greens. "It was very competitive. It was amazing that the youth team came in first, and another youth came in third."
Donald Hardy, the county's Youth Golf Program instructor, said he was very proud of his students.
"They did an outstanding job today," Hardy said. "I am so proud of them. They're a great group of young golfers."
Burton said he'd like to encourage parents to get their children involved in golf.
"It's a great program for youngsters and adults," Burton said. "Donald is very good at communicating the basics of a swing. He's very patient with juniors and adults. He's a super coach. He has a great eye for a swing. It doesn't matter if he has one student or 10 students out on the course in cold weather or hot days; he is there for them, encouraging them and helping them become better golfers."
The winners of Saturday's tournament credited their coach for their win and confidence.
"Everything I know came from Mr. Hardy," Richburg said after the tournament. "He's a great coach."
"(Hardy) can really relate to us," Dykes said. "He details what we need help with."
"My dad played golf and got me involved," White said. "Mr. Hardy has helped build my confidence."
Ard played on a team with his grandfather, Bobby Pierce.
"I enjoy getting outside and playing golf," Ard said. "Mr. Hardy makes it fun."
With a big smile and laugh, Laney said golf was the only sport he is "really good at."
"My friends play," Laney added. "It's a lot of fun playing golf with them."
Hardy said the tournament would not have been possible without the support and generosity of its sponsors.
"We're lucky to have individuals and businesses who give to help the youth in our community," Hardy said. "Without them, our program would not be as successful."
According to Hardy, the Clarendon County Recreation Department will be accepting applications to the county's Youth Golf Program during December.
Register by calling (803) 473-3543 or by dropping by the recreation department's office at 3057 Raccoon Road, Manning.
"We will begin our winter program on Jan. 2," Hardy said. "We'll focus on the basics and fundamentals of golf, swings and exercising, and it will all be inside at the Clarendon County Community Complex which is located behind Weldon (Auditorium)."
Hardy said he will also be offering winter programs for adults. Information on those programs will be available in December.