POTOMAC, MARYLAND – Day One from the Brightspot Unified Golf Challenge is in the books and what a day it was at TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm.
Underneath sunny skies and temperatures hovering around 80 degrees, Special Olympics athletes were joined by Wounded Warrior Project veterans, members of the First Tee, Howard University men’s golfers and PGA TOUR professionals for a “best ball” tournament.
Twelve foursomes played the same course where the PGA TOUR is hosting the Wells Fargo Championship this week.
Before the competition began, participants were treated to a clinic on the driving range from PGA TOUR pros Ben Martin and Johnson Wagner where they answered questions about ball flight, club selection and footwork techniques.
One of the players in today’s competition was Special Olympics Missouri golfer Thomas Cleek who said he had been looking forward to today’s event for weeks.
“It was a great experience to see the game played at another level,” Thomas said. “The difference between the amateur level and the pro level is insane.”
Thomas was paired with PGA TOUR pro Austin Cook during his round.
“We both made a lot of putts today, but the thing that really stood out to me was the ball-striking from Austin,” Thomas said. “He’s absolutely incredible.”
Playing Unified was at the core of the competition.
Jennifer Bottomley, a Special Olympics Pennsylvania golfer, echoed this sentiment.
“I was lucky to be paired with PGA TOUR pro Seth Reeves who’s a left-handed golfer just like me. I had a lot of fun and I found myself to be interactive with people whom I normally wouldn’t play golf with.”
On Tuesday, 3 May, the second and final day of the competition will be held at The Golf Club at Creighton Farms in Aldie, Virginia.
It will be a Ryder Cup-style event with members of the four organizations put in pairs of two where they will compete against other pairs in both an alternating shot and best ball format.