Golfer inspired by father's cancer battle, trip to The Masters
COLUMBIA – Columbia golfer Chase Venn placed second in the age 13-14 division in the USGA's Drive Chip & Putt Championship Sunday at Augusta National Golf Club, where The Masters tournament takes place later this week.
Venn is no stranger to that course. He has been at Augusta National five times with his dad, Robin Venn.
"The trips are a lot of fun. It’s kind of cool just for me and my dad to get away and have some fun watching something we love to do," said Chase Venn.
Out of all of The Masters trips, it’s the first trip to The Masters in 2011 that had the biggest on both Chase Venn and Robin Venn.
Not only was it the trip that inspired Chase Venn to pursue the Drive, Chip & Putt Championship, it’s the trip that almost didn’t happen.
“In January of 2011, I started having some conditions that concerned me and I went to the doctor and was diagnosed with colon cancer,” said Robin Venn.
After further tests, doctors discovered Robin Venn’s cancer was in stage three and he would need chemotherapy in April 2011.
Cancer wasn’t going to stop Robin Venn from taking his son to The Masters.
"I remember pleading with Doc Peters and said 'look, when this is all done, I gotta be able to take Chase,'" Robin Venn said. "'Who knows if I’ll even live after this?'"
Robin's wife Julie Venn said, "So his doctor just told him ‘if he did everything and he was healing really well, he would allow him to go.’" She continued, ”He did everything that he needed to do so that he could go.”
It was trip to remember for both Robin Venn and Chase Venn.
"He was like a little kid in the candy store," said Chase's sister Kyleigh Venn. "He was so excited to get to say ‘I get to take my son to The Masters.’"
When father and son arrived to The Masters in 2011, Robin Venn wanted to give his son the full experience of the course.
"I did everything I can in those next four days to make every moment memorable," Robin Venn said. "To walk the course, to talk to him about what had happened here over the years and the shots I had seen and some of the memorable finishes and places I had sat before."
For Chase Venn, he was just glad that his dad was able to take him to The Masters.
"That one just started perfectly because he was able to go," Chase Venn said. "He was fighting so hard to go and since he did that, I just had so much fun that trip."
It was on that trip that father and son found a new goal to pursue - making the Drive, Chip & Putt Championship.
"Once I found out that if you made it all the way through, you could go to Augusta, I always had my mind on Augusta," Chase Veen said.
He continued, "for a solid 2-3 weeks, I just practiced strictly on those guidelines and skills I had to do like the 6-15-30 foot putts and chipping and hitting really straight drives.”
Chase Venn's hard work paid off as he won the Old Hawthorne Qualifying Round, the Winghaven Sub-Regional and the Valhalla Regional to qualify for the Drive Chip & Putt Championship this year.
This year, it's Chase Venn that gets to take Robin Venn to The Masters.
"I’m probably the proudest dad in all the U.S. because for what he’s done and the experience both of us get to have," said Robin Venn.