When John Michael Sullivan, 8, from Camillus was just 5 years old, his grandparents bought him a set of junior golf clubs. For John Michael sports were always important, but after receiving this fateful set of golf clubs in 2004, golf was elevated to its own plateau.
John Michael and his father, John, spend a lot of time on the golf course together, and John Michael's grandparents enjoy playing with him, as well.
Until recently, John Michael has never really played against kids his own age.
"He takes both group and private lessons, and his instructors told me that he has a lot of potential if he sticks with the game," John said. "He beats me 50 percent of the time."
John Michael recently got the chance to compete among his peers for the first time at the Mutual of Omaha Drive, Chip & Putt Challenge presented by the Golf Channel. On June 17 he competed against 16 other 7- to 8-year-olds at the Links at Erie Village in the regional semi finals.
There are four age groups of competitors: 7 to 8, 9 to 10, 11 to 12 and 13 to 14. Each child competes in the driving, chipping and putting portions of the competition. The person with the lowest ranking score at the end of the competition takes first place and so on. For example: At the end of the putting competition John Michael sank his shots in the least amount of putts, so he receives a score of one for that round.
Each participant gets two shots to drive the ball as far as they can, but it must land within a designated 40-yard boundary.
Everyone is given three shots to chip their ball as close to the cup as possible. One point is earned for simply hitting the ball and 10 points are earned for getting the ball into the cup in one shot. There are four circles around the cup which represent five, four, three and two points.