“Mom, are you ever going to use a blinker.” We have just pulled into Dothan City limits and my mother has yet to use a blinker and we have been driving for three hours. Most people know Dothan for its annual Peanut Festival and as a stop when traveling to Orlando. Few people take the time to really enjoy this southern city. However, my mom and I had an exciting reason for traveling to Dothan, AL because I had been invited to compete in this city’s annual Future Masters Golf Tournament. Hosted by Press Thorton and his family at Dothan Country Club, The Future Masters has been going on for seventy-two years. This junior golf tournament is one of the most prestigious golf tournaments for young men 12-17.
â–º QUARTER FINALIST 2012 TEEN TRAVEL WRITING SCHOLARSHIP
Since I was lucky enough to be invited to play in the golf tournament, my mother and I headed out from our home in Pelham, Alabama, driving south on I-65 until we got to Montgomery and transitioned to 231. We stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn right off of 231. We arrived at around six and got settled in our room. My mother and I decided to go to Applebee’s for dinner. We soon learned that it was karaoke night on Wednesday nights at the Applebee’s in Dothan. This was quite the experience. Everyone in the restaurant was dancing and singing. My mother and I sure got a kick out of people-watching that night.
The next day I played in a practice round with one of my good friends at 8 o’clock in the morning. Dothan Country Club was incredibly nice and the course was incredibly hard. I took many notes in preparation for the next day.
The next morning I had a tee time around 8 o’clock so my mother and I went to Waffle House around 6 because the hotel breakfast didn’t start until 7. I found out that I was playing with a relative of mine because tee times were arranged in alphabetical order and we have the same last name. He is my fourth cousin. I played terribly that day because I was so nervous. It was the first time I had ever played in a tournament that had this talented of a field. That night there was a player appreciation banquet that my mother and I attended. At this banquet, I realized how truly generous our hosts were. An array of tables covered in delicious food was a treat for us—and the welcoming remarks from our hosts revealed the southern grace of a bygone era.
The next day I had to sit and wait around all day because my tee time wasn’t until 1:30. I played a lot better this day, but it still wasn’t quite good enough to make the cut. Dothan was an unusual place for a family vacation, but we found plenty to do. Going back was a thing that we did the next year as well. Dothan has become a home away from homes around the fourth of July for the Nolen family and it is a place I will always remember and a travel experience I will be able to tell my kids about.
I learned from this experience that my golf game needed to improve if I wanted to play in college. My dream is coming true. I will be attending Huntingdon College in the fall and will travel across the country playing in many collegiate golf tournaments. So how will I travel? Occasionally, we’ll fly. Mostly, our coach will drive the team and, hopefully, use a blinker!
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