RIDGELAND, SC (WTOC) – A few weeks ago, Congaree Golf Club opened its gates for the first time for the Palmetto Championship. This event benefited the Congaree Foundation, which tries to influence young people around the world through the game of golf.
One of their programs is the Congaree Global Golf Initiative, or CGGI.
Last year their Global Golf Initiative was virtual with no students on site due to COVID, but this year they are back on the course.
We visited the intensive program to see what it included.
“I still can’t believe I’m here. It’s like a crazy experience, ”said Amelie Alcantara, an aspiring junior from Boca Raton, Florida, on the program.
Jordan Williams, an aspiring student from York County, South Carolina, agreed.
“This place, Congaree, is like a golf paradise.”
On Monday, six CGGI students arrived in Ridgeland for a week of intensive training and college preparation.
It may be golf heaven, but students say this is not a summer camp.
“I wouldn’t put the word camp in it because I felt like camp meant, oh how fun, water park … things like that, but I like it,” said Alcantara. “I do this better than any other camp, as if I need this discipline to get better.”
Your morning starts at six in the morning. They do workouts, one-to-one tuition with golf pros, even ACT preparation; all with the aim of obtaining a college golf scholarship.
College golf is something that students say they wanted to but weren’t always sure how to achieve it.
“Since 8th grade,” said Alcantara. “Ever since I realized I was going to high school and college after that, I’ve been thinking, yes, I think that’s what I want to do.”
You have been nominated for the program by a Congaree Ambassador and are free to attend.
“It’s a blessing that the millions of kids who play golf have allowed us to train here every day for a week,” said Williams.
Alcantara repeated his thoughts.
“It’s so special, like I wouldn’t do something like that if there wasn’t Congaree, so yeah, I think it’s really special and I look forward to doing the rest of the week.”
Students said one look at the course in the Palmetto Championship broadcast only added to the excitement. A few remnants of the tournament remain on site.
“If we hit a bad shot and go into the forest or into the water, many of their balls are still there. I found Patrick Reed’s ball right here in the water, ”Williams said with a laugh, pointing to some water near the 18th fairway.
The 2021 CGGI class includes 15 personal and 21 virtual students.
This is the last week at Congaree. The first group of students arrived immediately after the tournament and the following week is for the virtual students.
On Thursday the students were equipped for their own new PING rackets so that they can give their best in the upcoming tournaments.
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