At the 2014 U.S. Junior
Amateur Championship qualifier, held June 9 at the Vaquero Club in Westlake, Texas,
Coody was 2 under par through 30 holes and coming off a three-hole stretch that
included two bogeys.
“I was just trying to keep
him in an aggressive mode,” said Kyle, who suggested a couple more birdies
might be needed to secure his place in this week’s championship at The Club at
Carlton Woods’ Nicklaus Course.
The younger Coody took the
words to heart. He approached the downhill 375-yard, par-4 fourth hole, which
was also playing downwind and featured a green with a tucked hole location that
was protected by water on the right. He also took a more aggressive playing
approach, which meant eschewing the 4-hybrid and wedge that he used on the hole
during the practice and morning rounds.
Off the tee, Coody chose
driver and drove the ball into a greenside bunker, from which he got up and
down for a birdie. He added one more birdie to shoot a second successive
2-under 69 and win the qualifier with a 4-under 138 score.
“I never realized he would
pull out driver on that hole,” said Kyle, who played collegiately at the
University of Texas and then spent eight years traveling and playing various
international and mini-tours. “If I was caddieing for him, he would not have
had the opportunity to pull the driver from the bag.”
Oh, to be young and fearless,
Pierceson, 14, of Plano,
Texas, is among the youngest players in this week’s field – which has an average age
of 16.24 – and is making his USGA championship debut.
In Monday’s opening round of
stroke play, Coody shot a 9-over 81.
“It was a long day, I just
didn’t hit the ball well,” Coody said. “It was a good experience, good
competition, but I just couldn’t get it to quite click today.”
Barring a strong turnaround
on Tuesday, Coody likely will miss the cut. And if there is some solace in that
fact, then it will be that his grandfather also missed the cut in his first
Yes, Pierceson and his fraternal
twin brother Parker, also an emerging golfer, are the grandsons of Charles
Coody, the 77-year-old Central Texas native who won the 1971 Masters and played
on the USA Ryder Cup team. These days, Charles owns Diamondback Golf Course in
“I’m their biggest
supporter,” said Charles, who missed the cut at the 1960 U.S. Open at Cherry
Hills Country Club as an amateur and lost, 3 and 2, to Downing Gray in the U.S.
Amateur Championship semifinals two years later at Pinehurst No. 2. “I try and
stay out of the way when it comes to their swings and such, because you can
have too many people telling you too many different things. Then you become all
messed up, so I just offer them positive encouragement.”
While Charles and Kyle leave
the technical coaching of Pierceson to Chris Como, lead instructor at
Gleneagles Country Club in Dallas, they both advocate the process of visualizing
positive shots. Charles said he learned that from A.G. Mitchell, who was said
to have worked with Ben Hogan.
The bad shots still creep
into Pierceson’s game, mainly because he is just now starting to focus more of
his time on golf. While Pierceson has played golf since an early age, he was interested
in other sports initially. That began to change about three years ago.
“I would play about once a
month between the first and fifth grades, but I just didn’t like it,” said
Pierceson, a rising high school freshman. “The summer before seventh grade I
started to change my thinking about the game. It was no longer just a hobby,
but a true sport and now I want to see how good I can become.”
Pierceson believes the
results will come if he continues to put in the time. He enjoys the process of
practicing, which his father and grandfather both applaud, and says there is no
fast track to catch others who have more experience.
“There’s plenty of quality
golf here in the state of Texas,” said Kyle, adding that Pierceson likely will
not begin playing a regular American Junior Golf Association schedule for
another year. “He’s 14 and doesn’t need to be playing at the 15-16 level yet.
The main thing is that he keeps developing and having fun.”
Monday’s opening round might
not have been all that fun for Pierceson, but he took the round in stride.
“Hopefully, I will play
better tomorrow,” Pierceson said.
Indeed, tomorrow is another
Hall is a North Carolina-based freelance writer whose work has appeared on usga.org