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Gilman junior primed for Nature Valley First Tee Open

Charles Young Jr. loaded up on tournaments this summer, playing in the mid-Atlantic Professional Golf Association Junior Tour and American Junior Golf Association Tour.

That's just the beginning for the Gilman junior, whose goal is to sharpen his game before playing in the International Junior Golf Tour and Plantation Junior Golf Tour this fall and spring.

By the time it's all said and done, Young will have competed in about 25 tournaments.

"I just want to get better," Young said.

And he also wants to be ready for a unique opportunity to playing with a Senior Tour PGA golfer as a two-man team at the renowned Pebble Beach Golf Links, Sept. 26 to 28, in California in the 2014 Nature Valley First Tee Open.

The event, in its 11th year, will be televised on the Golf Channel.

Young admits he will look for the camera during breaks.

"I want to pick up some pointers on my game," Young said. "The anticipation is eating away at me, to tell you the truth. Seeing my name on the list really made me ecstatic. It's really cool to play on a national stage with tour players. It will be a great experience, and hopefully I can be on TV."

The 5-foot-8, 150-pound Young will be one of 81 golfers participating from the First Tee program, a youth golf development organization with some 200 chapters nationwide that stresses that sport and character.

He was among thousands of applicants who filled out a 10-page application, which included a couple of essays, a golf resume, a school transcript and resume of extracurricular activities. Young also interviewed with the First Tee program's board of directors.

He's played in the First Tee program for the past five years.

"I can't stress enough how difficult it is to get into this tournament," said Matt Bassler, the program director for the First Tee of Baltimore. "It's the first time we have had a student from Baltimore play in this tournament. I think it just shows his character and the quality of his golf game."

Bassler said Nature Valley First Tee Open is a one-of-a kind event

"The PGA Tour does the Pebble Beach national pro am," he explained. "A player is paired usually paired with a celebrity. The Senior Tour wanted to do something similar for their players. They pair a junior player with a pro. There's aren't many tour events that do that and Pebble Beach is the only one I can think of."

Playing in the event could also bring more consistency to Young's game, along with boosting his confidence.

"I think it will do great things for Charles and his future in golf," Bassler said. "He will be playing with a Senior Tour player who has played competitive golf his whole life. He will watch how they attack a course, what they do before and after a round. It will be a fantastic opportunity."

The 16-year-old Young has played some quality golf with his best round coming in American Junior Golf Association Tour tournament last summer, when he shot an 73 at Ohio State University.

Young also recorded a 76 last month at the Winchester Country Club in Virginia at a mid-Atlantic Professional Golf Association Junior Tour.

At Gilman, Young played as the No. 3 player behind seniors Will Rosenfeld and Kevin Devine.

This fall, Young said he will focus sharply on winning the No. 1 spot in the Greyhounds' lineup.

He stays busy playing golf and participating in the Black Awareness Club, Diversity Club, Singing Sensations Youth Choir while playing the saxophone in jazz band at school while mentoring lower school students.

"He is non-stop with golf and a terrific player," Gilman assistant golf coach Mike Wallace said. "He focuses really well and I think that comes with all the play he's been getting in. I was his advisor when he was a middle school student. I couldn't wait to coach him because I kept learning all these great opportunities he had through golf."

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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