Local junior golfer hits fund-raising goal
By Dennis Davidson
SALISBURY — Local junior golfer Michael Childress hit two big numbers last week.
The Cannon School junior turned 17 on Aug. 24, but a few days later, Childress attained an even bigger goal.
Childress has used his passion and talent for golf to help others. This summer, the Salisbury resident has raised $10,000 for Rowan Helping Ministries’ assistance programs.
During his summer tournament season, which still has four rounds remaining, Childress raised money each time he made a birdie. Childress had donors who had pledged a certain amount per birdie, or they may have made a one-time donation.
Childress reached his $10,000 goal on Sunday in Morganton at the Joe Cheves Junior Championship at Mimosa Hills Country Club. In fact, the last birdie came on the par-4 18th hole, as Childress shot a 73 to put himself in a tie for 18th place in the prestigious tournament.
“This experience has been unbelievable,” said Childress. “For someone else to benefit, it just feels better than making a birdie for a score. I’m doing something that I love and it’s helping others who are less fortunate.”
The program has benefitted from 43 birdies from Childress in his last nine tournament rounds. That’s $232.56 raised per birdie.
The funds donated will continue to rise when Childress plays in two tournaments in October. Childress has a two-day event at Grandover Resort in Greensboro and then the Tar Heel state tournament at Campbell University.
Any birdies that Childress scores in those tournaments will count in his fund-raising effort. He is able to track his birdies and keep up with the program through the American Junior Golf Association website.
Childress is teaming up with Nick Lyerly, another local junior star golfer, in this weekend’s Crowder-Dorsett Memorial Labor Day 4-ball tournament. Many are anxiously waiting to see how the young guns will do in the two-man match play tournament, but any birdies made won’t count in Childress’ fund-raising program.
“It’s just the way the format is set up, the birdies have to be earned in stroke play,” he said.
Childress, who has volunteered at Rowan Helping Ministries in the past, is proud of what the money he has raised can do for others.
“Earlier in the summer, I was going by there about once a week, and you can see the impact that you can make,” said Childress. “I can honestly say that I’ve enjoyed every minute of this summer. Hopefully, this effort can put a few smiles on the faces of people who need help.”
Highly recruited by numerous colleges for golf and academics, Childress said that he may decide early on where he may go — just like Lyerly did last fall when he verbally committed to UNC Greensboro. Lyerly is now a senior at East Rowan High School.
“I’m going to wait a little and commit sometime later this year, but there’s really no pressure to do so,” said Childress, who has visits scheduled for Virginia, Wake Forest and East Carolina. “I’m looking at both golf and academics before I decide where I’ll go.”
So for now, Childress is thinking about this weekend and Rowan County’s biggest golf tournament of the year — the 63rd annual Labor Day event.
“I can’t wait, it’ll be fun,” Childress said of playing with Lyerly. The two qualified with a 7-under par 64 last Friday at the country club to win medalist honors. They are the No. 2 seed, as last year’s champions, Phil Miller and Andrew Morgan, are the automatic No. 1 seed.