Andrew LaCongo of Holland, NY, spent a few days over the weekend in a magical place: the Augusta National Golf Club, in Augusta, Georgia. For those non-golfers in attendance, that’s the home of The Masters, which happens to take place this week. Andrew isn’t competing in the actual tournament, but he was on site for a different type of competition: the national finals of the Drive, Chip and Putt Championship. LaCongo qualified in his second attempt at national finals last summer. The entire story is included on his personal tournament page, but stick around here for just a while longer. Before he left for Augusta, Andrew took time from his busy schedule to answer nine questions for BuffaloGolfer.Com.
1. Tell us a bit about your self and how you came to be a golfer.
I am 15 years old and I go to Holland Jr/Sr High School. I am a member with my dad at East Aurora Country Club. I have been golfing since I was about 7 years old. When I was younger, my parents and I would travel to Arizona to stay with my grandparents. That was where I originally got introduced to golf.
2. Have you played much tournament golf? How is that different from casual rounds?
I play many tournaments throughout the summer. I play in the Western New York PGA, NYS Junior Tournament, International Junior Master, HJGT’s, and many other small one day tournaments. Tournament play is a little different than casual play because you are actually playing for something and playing to win. Also, it makes you a little more nervous when you have some people watching you.
3. Do you play for a high school team? Which one and how has that gone?
I play high school golf for the varsity East Aurora/ Holland team. Holland did not have a golf team, so instead they merged with East Aurora. Last year, our team went undefeated and I came in second in the ECIC individuals.
4. Is this your first attempt at the Drive, Pitch and Putt? Why did you decide to give it a shot?
This is my second Drive, Chip and Putt and last year I only made it to the sub-regionals. I decided to try the Drive, Chip and Putt because my grandfather asked me three years ago if I heard about it and said I should try it. The next year, I went to the local qualifier.
5. Tell us about your regional qualifier (the one that got you to Augusta.) Where was it and what was the hardest part?
The regional qualifier this year was at Oakmont Country Club in PA. When we were there, it was rainy but pretty warm. I came in 1st in the driving, 1st in chipping and 4th in putting. The hardest part was staying focused while playing in the rain and making sure my shots were on.
6. What have you worked at the most since you qualified for the national finals?
Ever since I found out I was going to Augusta, I have been working a lot on putting and chipping the most. With the winter in WNY being cold and snowy, I practice in my “golf shed” which has a piece of turf and a net. I would also go to the Wherle Golf Dome.
7. What are you hoping to learn from your time in the national finals at Augusta?
When at Augusta, I am hoping to learn how to keep the pressure and nerves down and stay focused, positive and confident.
8. Give us a break-down on when you will leave, what you will do when you are there and when you will return to western New York.
We leave for Augusta Saturday morning and return to WNY on Tuesday. The competition starts at 9am, with the younger competitors first. The Golf Channel’s coverage starts at 8am. The awards ceremony follows the competition. We have tickets for the practice round on Monday.
9. Did we forget to ask something? Give us a question of your own and answer it.
What are your future plans in golf?
My future plans are to go to college after high school and play golf in college. After college, I would like to try and make it to either the web.com tour or the PGA Tour eventually.
Jay Skurski of The Buffalo News wrote a really nice piece on Andrew LaCongo that ran in the Sunday (4/3/2016) Buffalo News. You can read it online here.
Nick Filipowski put a nice piece together on WKBW-TV. It can be viewed online here.
Editor’s Note: Andrew placed 9th in the 14-15 year old competition. After a rough start in the drive and chip portions of the event, he rebounded with a top-five finish in putting to move up in the standings.