Hole in one for young golfers

The Dyker Beach Golf Course hosted the annual City Parks Foundation Golf Tournament on Tuesday, July 29, 2014 with LPGA champion Cristie Kerr in attendance.

Also present for the big day — which included breakfast, a round of golf and an award ceremony — was New York City Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver. Proceeds from the event went towards CityParks Golf, a program that provides free golf instructions to nearly 4,000 children ages six to 17.

Kerr discussed the importance of having an affordable venue for young golfers to learn the sport. “It’s amazing to think many years ago that I was learning the game of golf in a program like the City Parks foundation,” she said. “My parents and I came from a very humble background and without that program, I wouldn’t be standing here. If you have big dreams and you work hard, you can get what you want. The City Parks Foundation is doing a wonderful job here. I’m very honored to be a part of it.”

Kerr has played in integral role with City Parks Golf. Along with being a spokesperson, she hosted a free clinic at Dyker’s Junior Golf Center in 2011.

“I’m going to make sure it keeps growing year after year,” Kerr continued. “These kids really deserve it. I’m standing here as a testament to that. I wouldn’t be here without this type of program.”

The City Parks Foundation also launched a new scholarship program that will send one of the program’s top junior golfers to Florida in December to play in the Doral Publix Junior Classic tournament, which is considered to be one of the top junior golf tournaments in world.

The first recipient is 13-year-old Nortee Panpinyo, who is from Bensonhurst.

“He’s been a familiar face in our golf program since 2008, when he started as a beginner at our Junior Golf Center and he is emblematic of everything we look for,” said CityParks Foundation Director of Sports Programs Mike Silverman. “Besides being a talented player, he has the things we try to teach in this game to kids like integrity, dedication, good sportsmanship. We know he will represent us well.”

Panpinyo will be joining 680 kids around the world competing in this tournament. He looks forward to both the challenge and experience.

“It means everything to me,” he said. “As just a kid, I never knew I could get anywhere with golf. I just looked at it as a place to relax. Everything all changed once I started getting somewhere and the coaches here started helping me.

“[In the tournament,] you get to play in a nice course, meet great people and I love talking to the other kids,” Panpinyo went on. “I get to stay in a fancy hotel. It’s going to be fun.”

He also explained how much the Junior Golf Center has helped him hone his craft. “Dyker is great,” Panpinyo enthused. “I’ve been playing here almost all my life. It’s a great practice course, great place to be. I would be here every day. This space is like my home.”

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