LAKEWOOD RANCH — It’s not surprising that Braden River Middle School eighth-grader Danny Walker doesn’t remember much about the first time he and Haile Middle School eighth-grader Ramsey Touchberry met out on the golf course.
After all, the two were only 8 years old at the time.
But although he might not remember how he finished or what the two talked about, there is one aspect of their first meeting at the U.S. Kids Golf World Championship that Walker will never forget.
“The first time I met him, he was wearing a straw hat,” Walker said.
Touchberry couldn’t help but laugh and nod in agreement as his friend recounted the tale. At the time, Touchberry, who grew up in Pennsylvania and Georgia, had just moved to Florida and was used to wearing a straw hat out on the course.
It’s been six years since Walker and Touchberry first met on the golf course, and during that time, the two have developed a friendship fueled by their competitive spirit and passion for the game of golf.
On May 8-9, Walker and Touchberry competed in a Florida Junior Tour tournament at Mission Valley Country Club in Nokomis. Touchberry shot a 70-72 to tie for second place in the 13- to 15-age division, while Walker shot a 73-70 to finish fourth.
“I played pretty well,” Touchberry said. “I hit solid and played steadily throughout the round.”
“This was a really big tournament for me because I hadn’t shot under par in a tournament before,” he said.
The two began playing golf at an early age after having played every miniature golf course in the area. Walker and Touchberry both started taking lessons when they were 5 years old and began playing in tournaments shortly thereafter.
Since then, the two have sharpened their game, enrolling in the Missing Link Golf Academy at the Legacy Golf Club four years ago under the guidance of Ian Segneri.
“They definitely work well together,” Segneri said. “They never lie down to one another, so that makes their (level of play) that much higher. They have so many similarities that it just makes sense. … They’re lucky that they have the opportunity to come out here together. They both have that competitive drive that you can’t teach, which is important.”
Touchberry, the less athletic of the two, began focusing primarily on golf when he was about 8 years old after his parents decided to move to Florida so that he could play year-round.
Walker on the other hand, played a number of other sports, including baseball, before deciding to focus solely on golf two years ago.
“Golf is really challenging, but after practicing a while, you get good at it, and you can do anything,” Walker said.
The two spend four to five days a week out on the course practicing and usually compete in one or two Florida Junior Tour or American Junior Golf Association tournaments a month. However, this summer both Walker and Touchberry plan to increase their number of tournaments, competing in at least one tournament every other weekend.
Walker and Touchberry tend to compete in the same tournaments throughout the year, which has allowed them to not only improve their game but also fuel their competitive spirit.
“It’s fun to compete in tournaments against each other rather than just playing in practice,” Touchberry said.
“We’ve obviously always been pretty equal,” he said. “I may not finish on top in a tournament, but I’m happy if I beat him (Touchberry) by a shot.”
This fall, the two will attend Lakewood Ranch High School, where they are looking forward to playing on the boys golf team with the hopes of eventually earning a college scholarship.
“I’ve never played team golf before,” Walker said.
“It’ll definitely be something different,” he said.
Contact Jen Blanco at email@example.com.
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