NAUGATUCK — The chance to hold 144 years worth of history doesn’t come around everyday for a young golfer. But that was the opportunity that presented itself to 12-year-old Garrett Burke at the Travelers Championship in Cromwell two weeks ago.
The soon to be City Hill Middle School eighth-grader has been volunteering as a gallery control marshal at the Travelers since he was 9 years old assisting his father Eugene Burke, who serves as the hole captain for the 13th hole.
“It’s allowed my son to be inside the ropes getting close to his favorite players,” Eugene Burke said. “We always end the Sunday finish to the Travelers by watching the final groups on the 18th hole.”
Eugene and Garrett were fortunate enough to see John Louden, a member of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club, walk by with the Claret Jug.
“I asked for permission to have a picture of Garrett taken with the trophy and they were happy to oblige,” Eugene Burke said.
The Claret Jug is the oldest trophy in the game of golf. It dates back to 1872 and is awarded to The Open champion. The Open, which is often referred to as the British Open, will take place July 16-19 at St. Andrews in Scotland.
“That was a pretty exciting moment,” Garrett said. “I have been around golf since I was 3 years old and to hold that trophy was an honor. You could just feel the history of that cup. It was truly amazing.”
The father and son bonding experience through the game of golf began at a young age. Eugene was out in the back yard hitting Wiffle balls with his golf club and he turned around to his 3-year-old son picking up a club to hit the balls as well.
Garrett took to the game that his father loves and is already a two-time Junior Club Champion. In 2014, he won the East Mountain and the Hop Brook Junior titles and has his sights set on this year’s Junior Club Championship.
“Garrett has been a part of the First Tee of Connecticut since he was 7 years old,” Eugene said. “He has been helping me at the Travelers since he was 9 years old. He has tremendous drive and I would expect him to beat me by the end of this year.”
Hop Brook Golf Pro Bob Clark has had the opportunity to help Garrett take his game to the next level as a member of the Inter Club Team at the Naugatuck course. Garrett is now in the middle of the Future Inter Club Tour that ends in the middle of August.
“Garrett is consistently in the 50s with his scores and has progressed better than I expected. He is a kid with the determination to take it to the next level,” Clark said. “The junior program is the future of Hop Brook golf and golf in the town of Naugatuck as well.”
Clark predicts that by the time Garrett reaches high school he will be ready to knock some doors down. He feels that with a little fine tuning Garrett has a really bright future in the game of golf.
“My dad has really helped me a lot and is always giving me pointers,” Garrett said. “I’m gaining a lot of confidence working with Mr. Clark. I basically go out there and do my best and realize I need to get good grades, as well.”