Junior Golf

Hawkins, Sullivan win Jr. Match Play titles at Congaree Club

The South Carolina Junior Golf Association held the 2023 Junior Match Play championship at The Congaree Club near RIdgeland. The Tom Fazio designed course was named the top new private course in the country in 2018. It has held a PGA Tour event and last fall was the host for the CJ Cup. (GolfClub Photo)

Thirty-five junior boys and fourteen junior girls played in the South Carolina Junior Golf Association Match Play championship, but it was very different than any of the ones held before.

This championship was played at the Congaree Golf Club.

The club located near Ridgeland has hosted a PGA TOUR event and last fall Rory McIlroy won the CJ Cup on the very same course.

While the top juniors in the state experienced play on the course Golf Digest sighted the Tom Fazio design as the best new private club in the country.

The club has a bigger mission than just being an exclusive golf mecca.

The founders, Dan Friedkin and the late Bob McNair began the club as a new philanthropic model that unites ambassador members with shared purpose to positively impact lives of young people locally and around the globe by providing educational and vocation opportunity through the game of golf.

In addition to the commitment to young golfers the Foundation is in the process of revitalizing an old golf course in the Ridgeland area as a public course and one that will open golf opportunities for high schools and juniors in the area.

Caroline Hawkins won the Girls Match Play title with a birdie on the first playoff hole. (GolfClub Photo)

The Junior Match Play has been played at many venues around the state and when the Congaree Foundation offered to host the event this year it was an opportunity for the juniors to play at an amazing venue and the Foundation to continue to impact young golfers.

If you’re used to seeing ornate entrances at famous golf courses your might drive right by the gate to Congaree.

The entrance is a sandy road with a weathered gate and a call box.

No ornate signs, magnolia trees or paved parking lots.

There are accommodations on the course for members and guests, but the focus is on a course that proved to be a test for the states top juniors.

Columbia’s Carolina Hawkins advanced to the championship match with a win over Maddie Peake of Pauline 1 up.

Bridget Wilkie from Bluffton earned her spot in the final with a 19 hole victory over Ella Stalvey of Columbia.

The girls final match between Hawkins and Wilkie was a see-saw battle where neither golfer was able to build more than a two hole lead on the other.

After finishing in a tie Hawkins won the Match-Play championship with a birdie on the first playoff hole.

The 2021 SCGA Junior Champion Rowan Sullivam from Charleston added the Match Play title to his junior resume with a win over Gabe Schmitz. (GolfClub Photo)

The boys championship semi final match featured Rowan Sullivan from Charleston and Major Lenning from Mauldin.

In the other semi-final Gabe Schmitz from near by Okati matched up with Lucas Acevedo from Charleston.

Sullivan, the 2021 SCGA Junior Champion, topped Lenning 2 up.

Schmitz had a convincing 4 &3 victory to advance to face Sullivan.

In the final it appeared to be a mismatch as future Vanderbilt golfer Sullivan jumped out to a big lead over Schmitz.

Sullivan built a 6 up lead before a double bogey and a Schmitz birdie on the back nine cut the lead in half.

Sullivan wrapped up the win with a par on his 16th hole to claim the Junior Match Play title 4 & 2.

Match Play trees and scoreing from the SCJGA Match Play Championship https://scjga.bluegolf.com/bluegolf/scjga23/event/scjga2340/index.htm

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