by Suzi Mitchell
Eleven-year-old, Michael DiNapoli who calls Haymaker his home course is about to follow in the footsteps of Tiger Woods and Ernie Els. Like both golfing greats once did, Michael earned a spot in The Optimist International Junior Golf Championship, which will be played on July 17-22, at the PGA National Resort and Spa in Florida. Six hundred and sixty junior golfers from 30 nations will be there, staking a claim on the winning title.
In May, Michael was in Boulder for a soccer game, when his Dad, Mike and golf coach Andrew Donner, Director of Instruction at Haymaker, suggested he enter a golf tournament being staged by the Junior Golf Alliance of Colorado at Aurora Hills Golf Course. It was Michael’s third ever tournament.
It was a qualifier for the Optimist event but the intention was simply to give Michael some exposure to competitive play. He tied for 4thplace, and earned a spot in the 12-13 year age bracket, plus $500 towards the $3,000 it will cost to make the trip. “Its an amazing opportunity,” says Andrew, who has been helping the DiNapolis plan and raise funds.
“I’m nervous and excited at the same time,” says Michael, who can be found on the Haymaker practice range four days a week, fine tuning his talent. He is hoping his favorite club – the putter – will not let him down. “Everything happens on the green,” he says. He will be one of the youngest players in his division, due to when his birthday falls in July, and will play against competitors hailing from Argentina to Thailand.
No doubt this humble Haymaker junior will embrace the challenge with his trademark smile and sportsmanship. “I am so grateful to my Dad for getting me into golf (he started in his backyard at age three), he’s my favorite person to play with and I am thankful to coach Andrew,” Michael says.