As golf tournaments go, it was a typical early spring Sunday at Langston Golf Course in northeast D.C.

But for these 10 players, the stakes were high. The players were 10 to 18 years old and vying to compete at the National Optimist International Championship in Miami this July.

“I believe golf brings a level of discipline to the kids.  The purpose of the tournament is to help these young people strive for brighter future for themselves especially as it relates to educating themselves,” said Ray Savoy, founder of the Langston Boys and Girls Golf Club. They were playing at Langston, one of the first golf courses earmarked for Black D.C. golfers and dating back to the 1940s when it was part of a landfill next to the Anacostia River.

And they were learning by competing, he noted. The oldest players, 17 and 18, tied at 72 strokes after a match that found them tied seven times. In a final, sudden death round Charlie Bundy, 18, of Bethesda defeated Bach Ngo, 17, of Frederick, Md.

“Yeah, we had six playoff holes…it was tough going for a while, but yeah I was happy with the win,” says Charlie Bundy, an 18-year-old from Bethesda, Md.

In the Boys 12-13 the winner was Charlton Lin, 13 from Rockville.  He shot a 19 over par and had 11 strokes ahead of the second-place winner Jerimiah West who shot a 30 over par. In the Girls 13-14, the winner was Julia Hua who shot a six over par. Second place went to Sanaa Carter, 13, of Jacksonville, N.C.

Among boys 14-15 the winner was Noah Wallace, 13 from Elkton, Md., who shot a three over par, six strokes ahead of second-place winner, Sebastian Dubey, 14 from Washington, D.C. who shot a nine over par.

In the Girls 15-18 the winner was Audrey Yim, 16 from McLean, Va., who shot nine over par, only two strokes ahead of second-place winner Samantha Ritchie, 17 from Great Falls, Va., who shot 11 over par.

And while they are not necessarily the next versions of Tiger Woods, they bring grit and self-awareness to one of the most difficult to master individual sports.

After the match, the self-criticism flowed easily.

“I need to work on my second shots and putts,” said Quincy Crawford, 17, of Lanham, Md.

“The skill I’m working on right now is distance control, making sure the ball isn’t over- or undershot,” said Dominique Barksdale, 16, of D.C.

“I like in how it relates to life, you can take whatever you learn on the field and apply it to the real world,” said James Young, 16, of Annapolis. “It’s really calming.”

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WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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