By Kyle Brennan, Citizen’s News
PROSPECT — After just four years with a club in his hand, 11-year-old Prospect native Braydon Hutwagner has a golf resume that’s better than most people a half-century older.
Hutwagner picked up the game as a 7-year-old at Highland Greens in Prospect. A year later, he joined the tournament scene on the U.S. Kids Golf Hartford Tour.
Between his U.S. Kids Tour stops, Connecticut PGA Junior Tour tournaments, and other regional and national tournaments, Hutwagner already owns 20 championship trophies, 24 runner-up efforts and 65 top-five finishes.
“I like being able to play against good competition to see how I am improving,” Hutwagner said. “I love to win, too. The big tournaments let me see what the best players are able to do.”
He’s become one of the best at his age, too. In May, he recorded rounds of 76 and 73 and fell just short in a playoff at the U.S. Kids Texas Open in Horseshoe Bay, Texas.
Hutwagner said that the key to his success so far has been practice. He is a member at Lyman Orchards Golf Club in Middlefield and plays in the spring and summer leagues at TPC River Highlands — the same course that last week hosted the PGA Tour’s Travelers Championship. He also credits his coach, Jeff DelRosso, and his caddie, who also happens to be his grandfather, Larry Menta.
His success has also brought him to some of the top courses in the country. His favorite so far has been the legendary Pinehurst No. 2, which has previously hosted the Ryder Cup, the PGA Championship and the U.S. Open, among other tournaments — he played it for the U.S. Kids World Championship.
“It’s fun to meet new people from around the U.S. and the world and see some of those same good competitors at all the big tournaments,” Hutwagner said. “Getting to compete against the best players my age makes me work harder.”
Hutwagner feels most confident with his driver, while improving his short game is his current goal.
“I am driving it as well as most boys my age in the country,” Hutwagner said. “The driver is my favorite club. I am working on improving with my putter. I got a new custom-made putter from Coggin Machine and Design (Westfield, Mass.), which has my personal logo and custom designs on it. I also try to work hard to improve on my chipping because the short game is the most important.”
It’s shaping up to be a busy summer for Hutwagner and his family. In July and August, he’s scheduled to compete in four world championship-level events: the IMG Academy Junior World Championship at Torrey Pines in San Diego; the Future Champions Callaway World Championship in Southern California; the U.S. Kids World Championship at Pinehurst; and the
Champion of Champions Junior Golf Invitational at Tulfarris Golf Resort in Ireland with players from more than 30 countries.
“This will be very challenging but the experiences will last a lifetime,” Menta said.
They will document the summer on Instagram (@braydon_hutwagner_golf and @larrymentagolf).
While Hutwagner is enjoying his success currently, golf is squarely in his future plans — and his goals are lofty.
“My goal is to play in high school and get a scholarship to a big-time college,” Hutwagner said. “Hopefully, I can be on the PGA Tour when I get older.”