Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

Virgen: Drive, Chip and Putt is both fun and serious

Seven-year-old Allister practices Amedio after winning the girls 7-9 age division at the Drive, Chip and Putt local qualifier. She holds her winning ribbons while putting. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Journal)

Despite several winning events, including last year’s drive, chip and putt in Albuquerque, 7-year-old Allister Amedio struggled to calm her nerves before competing at UNM Championship Golf Course Wednesday morning.

Her father, Larry Amedio, said she just wants so badly to play her best and avoid errors. Allister was overwhelmed and cried a bit, the father said.

Allister said she had fun at this year’s DCP local qualifier, but there were some not-so-fun parts, including the chipping. She said she’ll have to work on that more.

“There were some hard parts (on Wednesday),” the girl from Albuquerque said. “But I kind of just moved on from them because I wanted to do my best.”

That she did.

Allister placed first in the drive, chip, putt and overall for the girls 7-9 age division to win the DCP local qualifier, the first of four stages that ends with the National Finals at Augusta National on the Sunday before the 2023 Masters and is televised by The Golf Channel. Results of those who qualified for the subregional qualifier can be seen on page B4.

Allister didn’t at all suggest the opportunity to play on hallowed golf ground is on her radar, or even a reason to compete.

Why then?

“Because I love golf,” she said.

The setting at the DCP event is low key. Many of the participants treat it as practice, and as a bonus there is a competitive atmosphere. Wednesday’s event featured 117 children.

The top three finishers in each division advanced to the subregional qualifier Aug. 14 at Wildfire Golf Course in Phoenix vying to reach the regional qualifier Sept. 25 at Desert Mountain-Outlaw in Scottsdale, Arizona.

“This event is awesome,” Larry Amedio said. “I think what’s cool about it is you don’t have to play the whole course. They focus on skills, drive, chip and putt. I think it’s fun. Gets the kids involved and (grows) the sport.”

This past spring, Allister won six tournaments as part of the US Kids Golf tours, traveling “locally” to El Paso and Las Cruces. She also earned points to qualify for the US Kids Golf World Championship at Pinehurst, North Carolina, on Aug. 4-6.

“We’re traveling all over the place,” Larry Amedio said. He then turned to his daughter and joked to her, “We have to get you a job.”

Her reply: “I already have one.”

Allister’s best drive was about 135 yards. Her best chip was to 7 feet, and she holed a putt from 6 feet. She credited her coaches John Mercer and Sig Dalen.

In the girls 10-11 age division, Mea Parada, a 10-year-old from Albuquerque, has been golfing for a little more than three years, competing in multiple tournaments more recently as she continues to improve.

She came away with a second place finish in the drive, third in the chip and more learning.

“I think her biggest achievement is how she’s grown and how she’s learned to not only love the sport, but love the discipline of the sport,” Mea’s mother, Tersila Parada, said. “Most kids, they’re sleeping in late. She’s getting up at 6 to do her chores and getting out to practice, the driving range or going for a couple rounds a week. I think that’s what she loves the most. More than a trophy. More than a ribbon.”

Local youth instructor Jason Montoya is coaching Mea, so the girl is bound to improve. He’s among the best coaches in the area.

Montoya had 10 of the kids he coaches competing in the DCP event, and Wednesday he appeared to be all over the place.

“I’m just trying to keep them confident and motivated; calm the nerves,” Montoya said Wednesday morning. “I think I’m more nervous.”

IT CAN BE DONE: In 2018, then-11-year-old Callia Ward of Albuquerque reached the DCP National Finals at Augusta.

Ward placed third at state in Class 4A as a freshman for Albuquerque Academy to help the Chargers win the team championship this past March.

PRO-PRO: Scott Gates and Don Yrene of The Canyon Club won the Sun Country Pro-Pro Team Championship that concluded Tuesday at Sandia Golf Club. Gates and Yrene shot 24-under par and won by 10 strokes.

In April, the duo represented the Sun Country Section at the PGA Professional Championship in Austin, Texas.

Coach Jason Montoya, left works with 10-year-old Mea Parada. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Journal)

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