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Clara Tran holds the final scoresheet showing her winning the 2021 Drive, Chip and Putt local competition held last month at Hampton Cove Golf Course. The rising sophomore at Sparkman High won her title in a tie-breaker system and has qualified for the state DC & P competition set for August. Photo Contributed

Sparkman Golfer Wins Drive, Chip & Putt Contest- Clara Tran Advances To State Competition

HARVEST- As an eight-year growing up in Harvest, Clara Tran was an ice skater and a team sport participant both with much success. With insistence by her father, Hugh Tran, to try a new sport that would last her a lifetime, the spunky little girl decided on golf and attended a one-week golf camp at Madison Golf Center. Like many other youngsters at that age, Clara easily fell into a groove with the sport and has blossomed into one of bright flowering talents of girl’s golf in North Alabama.

Last month, the now 15-year old rising sophomore at Sparkman High School won the 15-year old division local competition of the Drive, Chip and Putt contest held at the Robert Trent Jones Complex at Hampton Cove. The victory was her second in the national competition as she also won the three-skill event two years ago.

“I won blue ribbons for my efforts and have qualified for the Alabama state competition in Prattville in August,” said Clara. “It was great to win my last Drive, Chip and Putt event.”

The Drive, Chip and Putt was founded in 2013 by the Masters, U.S. Golf Association and the PGA of America and is a free nationwide junior golf development aimed at growing the sport of golf by having participants, ages 7-15, to focus on the three fundamental skills of golf. The Alabama state winners will advance to the Southeast Regional action scheduled to be held in Florida. Regional winners will move on to the finals, which will be held in Augusta, Ga. at the 2022 Masters next April.

Each participant attempted three drives down a 40-yard wide fairway, three 10-15-yard chips at the scoring hole and putts from 6-15-30 feet each. Points were gathered from each individual skill event with total score of the three added together to determine the winner.

Clara posted 38 points in driving, 21 points in chipping and a skill high 70 points in putting to finish tied for first overall with 129 points. Her total matched fellow competitor Scarlett Schremmer with putting results used as a tie-breaker.

As a member of the Sparkman golf team, where’s she been the squad’s No. 1 player since the seventh grade, Clara carries a 10 handicap with an average 18-hole score of 82.

“My best part of my game is actually my short game with my irons as I feel I can throw darts at the pin at any time,” said Clara, only child to Hugh and Amy Tran. “I need to improve in my driving as I’m moving into older age brackets and I need more yardage off the tee.”

Success in golf came quickly for the 5-foot-7, 105-pound left-hander. At age 10, she played on the U.S. Kids World Tour Championships and was one of the top 50 to play in the event held in Pinehurst, N.C. She arrived with a partial set of golf clubs consisting of just seven clubs while others had a full set of 14 sticks.

“It was a great lesson for Clara and we soon got her a full set of clubs,” said Clara’s father, Hugh.

Today, Clara carries a bag full of sticks featuring a Big Bertha driver, Titleist fairway woods and TaylorMade irons and putter. She uses those clubs like a surgeon uses their surgical instruments maneuvering the golf ball in ways others can only imagine. She thinks through upcoming shots and utilizes her clever imagination to mentally see how to hit the shot or maneuver the golf ball in the direction she needs it to go.

The past year of 2020 due to the pandemic made it very difficult for Clara as she stayed away from competition for 18 months. Whenever possible she takes lessons at Sunset Landing Golf Course under the directive of head golf pro Dave Snyder. Her father also helps in attempts to perfect her game.

Her goals? Simple. “I want to play college golf hopefully at Auburn where I want to study medicine or computer science,” said Clara. “Maybe I could play professionally.”

Each time the teen tees it up she wears a necklace or earrings as a way for good luck. She also walks tall as she keeps a positive attitude towards her game.

Relative to her young age, Clara has played golf for a short time and has already accumulated a bevy of experiences that will assist in shaping her future in the sport she has chosen to be her possible road to an education or a career. But she already has a moment in her memory bank that will always be vivid- her first experience at golf.

“I was probably seven years old at the golf driving range with my father and it was my first time using a driver,” said Clara. “I hit the ball and it struck the moving ball retriever tractor. That’s my first memory of golf for me.”

If the driving range incident is any indication, Clara has and will continue to throw darts at the pins as the blossoming flower of the golf world.

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