Harrison's Bear Trace challenges Special Olympics golfers - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Harrison's Bear Trace challenges Special Olympics golfers

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Harrison's Bear Trace Gold Course was the place for Special Olympians to get their "putt on".

"Yay" squeals the gallery as John Wilson makes it look so easy, with a one putt from the practice green.

 But he's only starting at the Special Olympics' first level of golf, individual skills.

"They learn patience and they learn golf etiquette, just like regular golfers do," explains Area 4 Special Olympics Director Judy Rogers.

Once John graduates the putting green, he can play with the big boys like Etowah's Ryan Triplett.

"This is the most challenging one I've played on," says Triplett, after finishing the day's round.

"The other one, like Sevierville and other courses, are easier."

Triplett was one of the hundred plus Special Olympians teeing off at Bear Trace.

There are five levels of proficiency, level one the putting green where beginners must earn their way to eventually play the course.

"So you see them grow that way with their golf skills," says Hayden Echols of the Tennessee Golf Foundation. " In terms of their interpersonal skills, its unbelievable!

"Its a family, Special Olympics is a family," reaffirms Joann Drumright, the Senior Director for Field Services.

As for the contingent from Sevier County, without their golf coach as his wife battles terminal cancer, the team has this message for her.     
"Gladys, I know you're not feeling good, we all love you, I hope you do good," beams Justin Miller.

Not every ball drops as they would hope, but organizers say these athletes are learning more about the game of life as their grasp of the sport strengthens.  

"Its not just everyone goes home with a ribbon and its a warm fuzzy," says Drumright. " They compete, and they know what competition is all about."

Of today's top scores, it was a 90 in individual top flight.

As for Etowah's ryan triplett, he scored a 54 today in alternating play with his partner.

All these golfers getting ready for the state championship later this September in Smyrna, Tennessee.

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