by Erin Grier
This week was truly an amazing experience. ETees Golf was there along with big brands such as Deuce Golf Co to help orchestrate the tournament administratively. Legends like Jim Thorpe and Jim Dent were honored at the Jim Thorpe Invitational that takes place every February at the infamous Champions Gate in Orlando, Florida. There were over 60 professional golfers there, over 90 skilled youth golfers, and meeting icons and legends. It was so awesome to be surrounded by so much greatness. They had media crews like golf channel NBC Sports, influencers, and huge sponsors like Coca Cola as well.
The purpose of this tournament is to create a pipeline for Junior Golfers, Collegiate Players, and Professionals. It’s an amazing opportunity for all parties alike. The tournament was broken down into 3 days. Friday was the qualifier round, which meant that all talent from all over the United States and the Caribbean played to enter the tournament for Friday and Saturday. Later after the round, they had a golf clinic where Jim Thorpe and other golf pros from the PGA. They gave out awesome tips on and tricks to help improve your swing and game all together. Saturday was the actual tournament start. We had upcoming pros such as Joey Still, Aaron Beverley, Kamaui Johnson, and Willie Mack actually played in the tournament as well. After the round, there was a panel discussion for the youth golfers to ask questions about their future. After that, we had a game night where people could bond with each other through pizza and video games which was a huge success. Jim Thorpe had an hourlong impromptu meeting with the juniors at night to let them know exactly what they need to do in order to be successful in the golf realm as well.
Sunday was the final day of the tournament. It went a lot smoother than the previous day. As a tournament lead, I had the opportunity to go and explore the glorious landscape of the Champions Gate Course and watch the pros do best! As far as the tournament, we had two playoffs! One with the pros (Marcus Manley and Gabriel Lench) and one with the Juniors happening simultaneously! You honestly couldn’t have asked for a better experience that lasted until dusk. At the end of it, the winners were announced! The winner of the pros won a $25,000 purse.
The Jim Thorpe Invitational was an absolutely incredible event. We met golf pros such as the honorable Jim Dent (the father of Big Bertha Callaway clubs) , Carlos Brown (Director of Instruction), and even Jacksonville’s finest Angelo Collins (PGA Pro at Casa Linda Oaks Golf Club) I can’t wait to attend and help plan for it in the future.