PENSACOLA, Florida — Thirteen-year-old Dawson Garrett had the entire week off from school and the Fort Payne High School golf team, so he traveled to Pensacola, Florida, with family and friends to enjoy the break.
Naturally, for the eighth-grade student at Fort Payne Middle School, enjoying time away from golf means even more golf.
Garrett participated and took first in the Hurricane Junior Golf Tour’s Panhandle Junior Classic at Marcus Pointe Golf Club in Pensacola.
Garrett and Harrison Davis, who is also a member of the FPHS golf team, each participated in the boys’ 14-15-year-old division.
Garrett finished the first day of golf with a first round score at two-over-par 74. The threat of inclement weather was looming as they started the second round on Easter Sunday, and ultimately the tournament was called shortly after the beginning of the second round, which meant the first-round scores counted as final.
Davis fell just short of Garrett with a score of 80.
Garrett said he had found out about the tournament prior to leaving for the vacation, and he and his dad decided to try their hand at the course before the first round to get a feel for the course environment.
“My dad told me he signed me up for the tournament the day before I went down there,” Garrett said. “We went down there and played the day before — we played the front nine.
“All I really had to get to know was the greens. They are a lot different down there because there’s a different kind of grass.”
Practice made perfect for Garrett, who recorded three birdies in his first round to help secure the victory.
He said the weather actually increased his productivity on the greens, too. The gloomy, rainy weather made the ground “soft,” and Garrett didn’t have to worry about putting too hard and having the ball trail away from him.
Garrett’s coach at Fort Payne, Zane Haymon, said there was nothing shocking about the golfer’s performance at the tournament.
Haymon said he had been familiar with the young golfer for years. He said he knew Garrett’s father, and knew the youngster had “a ton of potential.”
“Last year was his first for us as a seventh grader,” Haymon said. “He’s a great kid. He’s very mature for his age, and he plays a mature game. He hits it straight and he doesn’t hit a whole lot of bad shots or get in trouble.
“He’s just got a very good head on him for golf.”
Garrett said the game came naturally to him. He’s been at it since he first started playing the game in grade school.
“I’ve been playing for probably five or six years now,” Garrett said. “My dad’s whole side of the family all played, and I started playing young and it kind of just kept growing from there.”
Garrett has consistently hit from the front of the pack at Fort Payne in the No. 1 spot, and while it might come as a challenge for many younger golfers, that’s not the case for Garrett.
“You don’t have to really think about pressure,” he said. “I’m just worried about going out there and playing well.”