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Congaree Golf Club hosts in-person Global Golf Initiative again

Just a few weeks ago Congaree Golf Club opened it’s gates to the public for the first time for the Palmetto Championship.
Published: Jun. 24, 2021 at 1:54 PM EDT
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RIDGELAND, S.C. (WTOC) - Just a few weeks ago, Congaree Golf Club opened it’s gates to the public for the first time for the Palmetto Championship. That event benefitted the Congaree Foundation, which tries to impact young people throughout the world through the game of golf.

One of their programs is the Congaree Global Golf Initiative, or CGGI.

Last year due to COVID, their Global Golf Initiative was virtual with no students on site, but this year they are back on the course.

We visited the intensive program to see what it entails.

“I still can’t believe I’m here. It’s like a crazy experience,” said Amelie Alcantara, a rising junior from Boca Raton, Florida in the program.

Jordan Williams, a rising sophomore from York County, South Carolina agreed.

“This place, Congaree is like golf heaven.”

Monday six CGGI students arrived in Ridgeland for a week of intensive training and college prep.

While it may be “golf heaven”, the students say this isn’t like a summer camp.

“I wouldn’t put the word camp in it, because I fell like camp means like, oh like fun, waterpark...things like that, but I like it,” Alcantara said. “I’d rather do this than any other camp, like I need that discipline to get better.”

Their mornings begin at six a.m. They do workouts, one-on-one instruction with golf professionals, even ACT prep; all with the goal of receiving a collegiate golf scholarship.

College golf is something the students say they’ve wanted, but weren’t always sure how to achieve.

“Since 8th grade,” Alcantara said. “Since I realized that I was going into high school, and like, college comes after, I was like, yeah I think I want to do that.”

The were nominated by a Congaree ambassador to the program, and are able to attend at no cost.

“It’s a blessing pretty much, that out of millions of kids that play golf, we get to be here training every day for a week,” Williams explained.

Alcantara echoed his thoughts.

“It’s so special, like I wouldn’t do anything like this if Congaree didn’t exist, so yeah, I think it’s really special, and I’m excited to do the rest of the week.”

The students said getting a peek at the course on the Palmetto Championship broadcast only added to the excitement. A few remnants of the tournament remain on site.

“If we hit a bad shot and we go into the woods or the water, a lot of their balls are still over there. I found Patrick Reed’s ball sitting in the water right here,” Williams said with a laugh, gesturing toward some water near the 18th fairway.

The 2021 CGGI class includes15 in-person students, and 21 virtual.

This is the final week at Congaree. The first group of students arrived right after the tournament, and the following week is for the virtual students.

Thursday the students were fitted for their own new set of PING clubs, so they can play their very best in upcoming tournaments.

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