Unforgettable Week In D.C. For ‘Pretty Excited’ Mansfield

Unforgettable Week In D.C. For ‘Pretty Excited’ Mansfield

by

Bob Gary, Contributing Editor, http://www.ifyoulikegolf.com

Bob Gary

When I last wrote about golf, Trent Mansfield hadn’t been drawing breath very long.

 

It’s been 16 years, in fact, since I last worked alongside my friend Sam Woolwine at the former Chattanooga Free Press. I was fortunate enough to cover everything from 62-year-old Ira Templeton’s sweltering 36-hole Sunday march to the 1986 Chattanooga Men’s Metro title to my boyhood idol Richard Keene’s Men’s Metro and Brainerd Invitational double in 1995.

 

So, yeah, it’s been a while since I’ve written about golf. Thanks to Mike Jenkins for letting me get my hand back in here at ifyoulikegolf.com, and for suggesting a piece on Trent, a rising senior at Boyd-Buchanan who won’t soon forget the round he played in late June at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md.

 

Trent was one of 18 players from various The First Tee East Territory chapters selected to play Congressional in the Quicken Loans National’s Monday pro-am, sponsored by Perfect Sense Digital. Trent’s been in The First Tee of Chattanooga program for a decade or so now, and was nominated by Kathleen McCarthy, executive director at The First Tee of Chattanooga.

 

“I got an e-mail in early June from [The First Tee’s] home office congratulating me,” Trent said. “I couldn’t believe it, to be honest. I was pretty excited.”

 

Anyone in Trent’s situation would have wanted to go to Congressional with his ‘A’ game. Trent did, having shot 70 at Moccasin Bend just a couple of weeks prior and winning Chattanooga District Golf Association Junior Tour event.

 

So he was ready when his team, which included a Special Olympics athlete and brand-new PGA Tour professional Oliver Goss, started the select-drive tournament Congressional’s par-4 fifth hole.

 

Despite coming to rest in the gnarly rough, Trent’s drive was his team’s best. Then, from 140 yards, he snuggled a pitching wedge – “I had a jumper,” he said – to just a foot away.

 

The next hole, a par-5, was even better. The team again chose Trent’s drive, and from there the Chattanoogan rifled a 4-iron onto the green. One 65-foot bomb later, he’d made eagle and was 3-under-par for the first two holes.

 

The team went on to shoot a 16-under-par 56 – and finished fifth. With fivesomes all over a course set up for the world’s best players, the pace of play couldn’t have been fast – but Trent said the day flew by.

 

“Never played a course like that,” Trent said. “It was cool getting to play with Oliver; he’d just turned pro, and Congressional was his first pro-am. He was almost as excited as we were.

 

“And because he’d played at Tennessee, we were able to talk about some of the courses we’d both played, like The Honors Course,” Trent said.

 

There was more golf – Trent and his fellow players from The First Tee got in a round at the Country Club of Fairfax in Fairfax, Va., and took on the storied mini-golf course at Woody’s Golf Range just outside D.C.

 

“That,” Trent said of the mini-golf, “didn’t go so well.”

 

The First Tee players also visited Perfect Sense Digital’s headquarters, toured the Smithsonian’s Natural History and Air and Space Museums, visited the U.S. Capitol and attended the first round of the Quicken Loans National. Trent said he followed Tiger Woods that day, but not for very long.

 

“Maybe an hour,” he said. “I’d seen him before, and I can’t really relate to him all that well.

 

“I like to watch guys on the range, because you can watch 10 different guys at once and see how they go about their business,” Trent said.

 

Back home, Trent went about preparing for the Chattanooga Men’s Metro Championship, which is set for July 11-13 at Brainerd GC, his home course. He and his Boyd-Buchanan teammates will spend a chunk of what’s left of their summer break playing nine-hole qualifying rounds to get ready for the 2014 City Prep League season.

 

But that week in Washington, representing The First Tee of Chattanooga, will stay with him for a while.

 

“Early on, The First Tee is about learning the game,” he said, “but it’s much more than that – you learn the Nine Core Values and what those really mean.

 

“Then, as you get older, you get opportunities like the one I just had. It’s anyone’s dream to walk inside the ropes, play a course like Congressional with your own caddie and next to players you look up to as being the best.

 

“Very few people get to enjoy that,” Trent said, “but I got to because of The First Tee. I’m very fortunate.”

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