12-Year-Old to Play at Augusta National

James Bradley, a new Bonac golfer, won the regional 12-to-13 boys competition with relative ease
James Bradley, who’s a seventh grader, and two eighth graders, J.P. Amaden and Trevor Stachecki, are among East Hampton’s top six. Kevin Smith, the head pro at Montauk Downs, is in the background. Jack Graves

James Bradley, a seventh grader who was a welcome addition to East Hampton High School’s golf team this fall, recently advanced, through a regional qualifier on the Winged Foot course in Mamaroneck, to the national Drive, Chip, and Putt finals at the Augusta National Golf Club next April.

Similar to the National Football League’s Punt, Pass, and Kick competition, whose finals take place in January at the stadium of an N.F.L. team playing host to a playoff game, Drive, Chip, and Putt grew out of a United States Golf Association-Augusta National collaboration five years ago “to grow the game.”

Bradley, who is 12, won the regional 12-to-13 boys competition with relative ease, amassing 139 points over all vis-à-   vis two runners-up tied at 127.

Four young golfers represented the Met region, said Kevin Smith, who often plays rounds at Montauk Downs with Gina and Scott Bradley’s son. 

Asked later on the first fairway what his teacher had said he needed to work on, Bradley said, “Everything?” 

Not really. Smith had said, “Stability . . . balance.”

“I don’t talk to him about the golf swing,” the head pro said as he and James walked toward their first-hole tee shots, on what was a perfect day for golf. “Physical balance leads to mental balance — they’re intertwined.”

Smith, as has been the case with others, said that Bradley was “a hard worker and he’s a nice young man, very respectful of his elders and peers.”

The regional qualifier, contested by a dozen boys in Bradley’s group, began with three drives that in order to count had to stay within a 40-yard-wide area, and then moved on to three 20-or-so-yard chips toward a circular bull’s-eye target on a green. “I got 20 points on my first one, 15 on the second, and five on the third,” Bradley said.

Putts from 6, 15, and 20 feet closed out the competition. Bradley “drained the first, and came to within four inches on the second and third ones.”

“I’m proud of him,” said his father, who’d driven him to the Downs from their house in Springs. “He works very hard.”

James said he thought he would become better balanced when he grew more. “I’m small now, but when I’m bigger and stronger, it will be easier to hit.”

Smith said Bradley would be up against nine other regional qualifiers in the finals, on the 2019 Masters’ tournament’s first Sunday, April 7, a day in which he might well get to meet some of the contending pros.

“I know it’s his goal to win the Masters some day,” said Smith. “He’s working hard toward it.”

Asked about the high school’s team, whose coach is Rich King and whose record was 5-1 as of Monday (its sole loss having come at Westhampton Beach), Bradley said, “As long as we can beat Westhampton when they come to us, we’ll be all right.”

Turner Foster, the team’s number-one, the county champion two years ago, and Nate Wright, the number-two, both seniors, had greatly helped him and the two eighth graders, J.P. Amaden and Trevor Stachecki, when it has come to analyzing the courses on which they’ve been playing this fall.

Bradley plays number-three. J.P. Amaden, he said, was playing four, Zach Barzilay, a senior, five, and Stachecki six.

Westhampton Beach is to play here today at 4 p.m. at the South Fork Country Club in Amagansett.