Maddy Manning age 8, and Avery Manning age 10, both golfers for about three years, first got involved in the sport by going with their dad, Brian, to the driving range, which evolved into going out and playing.
After seeing the girls stick with it, their mother, Melissa, and Brian decided that maybe they should get a coach for their girls. They found a coach through a brochure and the girls are coached by Craig Piscopink three to four times a week for two and a half to three hours at Eagle Crest Golf Course.
The Manning sisters have been golfing for three years and got involved with golfing competitively last summer as their parents realized their talent.
“It was one of those things,” said Melissa. “They kind of wanted to keep going back right? They had that thirst to get better and as a parent, you reach a certain level and you can only give them so much of what you know. Golf is such an extensive game, mentally and physically, on top of that we were both like, if they do want to golf, and even if they want to golf just leisurely for fun, we want to make sure they do it right. That’s why we made the push as well to get a coach, so they don’t develop bad habits.”
In that short amount of time, Melissa said she could see the difference not only from their scores from when they started in the summer, to the fall, but also their knowledge of the game.
“It’s the knowledge. They’ve learned so much from Craig,” said Melissa. “It’s not even so much what they win and how they win but the knowledge that they’ve gained each and every week.”
After beginning casually, the girls began to ask last year, around the time they began playing competitively if they would be playing at tournaments. That want from the kids prompted their parents to begin to look at the options for their daughters.
In southeastern Michigan, they compete in the U.S. Kids Golf Tour, as well as with the Jr. PGA League at Polo Fields in Ann Arbor.
“The U.S. Kids program is really good because it’s adjusted to the kid’s age so it’s appropriate distances, enough to make the course difficult but not overly challenging,” said Melissa. “Last year Maddy being 7 and Avery being 8-9, it was just the perfect fit. It kept them motivated, wanting to come back and do more. That was the turning point where they really wanted to get into it more and more.”
Melissa told The Sun Times that they didn’t miss any tournaments in the area last summer but in the fall, they had to travel to Cleveland, OH. Because there weren’t any U.S. Kids golf events in Michigan as a result of the weather. The competition level was a great opportunity for the girls to see competition outside of just Michigan.
Maddy won the tour championship in Cleveland last summer for US Kids golf along with the scoring requirements to get an invite to more state and regional tournaments. With U.S. Kids golf, in order to qualify for the World Championships, it’s a combination of lowest score and different point accumulations, the better you finish the more points you get.
Winning these tours, U.S. Kids golf gives out badge colors for completing tours, the colors range from burgundy to blue, with burgundy getting the player first dibs on any tours or tournaments that come up. Platinum, the most coveted of all badges, is for a world champion. Something both sisters will travel to Pinehurst, North Carolina for in the first week of August to compete.
Maddy received the invite after winning her tour championship, and Avery, although she did not place first in her age group, was able to receive an invite through a sibling exemption. Avery had the proper status from two tours, Cleveland and Michigan, along with the scoring requirement to qualify for the World Championships.
Only a certain number of exemptions are offered once the season wins, Maddy knew she would be going last fall when she won her tour, but Avery didn’t find out about the sibling exemption until May, the Manning’s knew the information wouldn’t come in until early spring.
“Avery’s birthday is May 9. I got the notification from US Kids on May 5.,” said Melissa. “We were having a birthday party that Friday or Saturday, however her birthday fell. We kept it a secret and gave her a card with the email inside, she was on cloud nine.”
Leading up to traveling to Pinehurst the first week of August, the girls are staying busy, competing in tournaments on Wednesday, Sunday, and Monday before leaving Monday evening for Pinehurst.
“They’re excited, that’s the best part, knowing they’ll do it together, and knowing they get to do it together and cheer each other on,” said Melissa on the experience of her daughters being able to travel and compete together. “Obviously pushing each other is great. It’s not every day you see a ten and eight-year-old wanting to spend that much time playing golf. Spending time with each other, knowing the seriousness and prestige of what they’re doing and where they’re going.”