Golf has always been something Gretna student Christopher Atkinson has enjoyed. The excitement reached a new height after Atkinson won one of the biggest tournaments in the state.
Atkinson won the Nebraska PGA Tour Championship in Beatrice for the age division between 16-18 years old which consisted of about 60 golfers. Competing against others who ranged from upperclassmen in high school to younger classmen in college and universities, in over a decade of playing golf the moment a couple weeks later still remains fresh in his mind and as one of his greatest memories of the sport yet.
“All the best juniors in the state were there,” Atkinson said. “It was a great feeling, like nothing I’ve ever felt before. I’ve won tournaments before, but none of them were this big. So it was a great feeling, one of the best I’ve ever felt.”
Among the dozens of golfers — some already committed to NCAA division one programs such as Nebraska, Creighton and others — Atkinson knew the quality of competition he was facing, but to be the cream of the crop within this group makes him look back at his work from the past. He said achievements like this and the gratitude they bring makes it more than worth it.
“It’s awesome to know you’re up there with the best of the best,” Atkinson said. “You know you’re doing things right when you can compete with guys like these and then beat. I’ve put in a lot of work over time especially lately to better myself for the high school season, unfortunately we didn’t get to have that, but it’s fun to be able to go out and prove what I worked so hard at over the winter, and it’s paying off.”
After training and working out through the winter to prepare for what would have been his junior year on the Gretna golf team, it was suddenly gone as the COVID-19 pandemic came into effect. It still stings a bit knowing it is a season that he and his teammates won’t be able to get back.
After the NSAA announced that all spring sports were cancelled in February, Atkinson had no high school season and a lot more free time. The lack of a golf season did not keep him away from the game.
“I still practiced and played everyday,” Atkinson said. “I would play with friends sometimes, or compete against some other guys. One time in particular I played with the Big Ten Player of the Year(Christopher Gotterup), I also went and played with some golfers from UNO (University of Nebraska-Omaha), and I worked with my swing coach who also work with some of these guys and it was still fun to play with all them, and make sure my game is sharp everyday and be the best I can be.”
Now that sports, including golf tournaments are making their way back, getting over the lost season has become a little easier for Atkinson.
“The summer tournaments have always had better competition to me,” Atkinson said. “Obviously though, losing your high school season is tough regardless. For now though, being able to compete against golfers and playing in tournaments again is nice. It feels great to get back out there again.”
Before all this, golf has been one of Atkinson’s favorite pastimes, as he remembers playing golf as young as 5 years old. Though the game didn’t really captured his interest until he was heading into his freshman year.
His late father also had a hand in the game of golf becoming a big part of his life. Thanks to the game of golf, Atkinson got to meet lots of people who are known for much more than just golf.
“In 2008 my dad played in something like a US Open challenge at Torrey Pines in California,” Atkinson said. “It was a really nice golf course, and my dad played with Tony Romo, Justin Timberlake, and Matt Lauer, so it was pretty cool to be there.”
Atkinson does plan to play golf in college, but is undecided in terms of where.
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