The dream of playing golf on the national level turned true for 12-year-old Dean Harpe when he stepped onto the 114-year-old Pinehurst course in North Carolina — one of the most historical and exclusive clubs in the country.
The Rim Country Middle School seventh-grader was there as one of Arizona’s representatives at the US Kids world championships, played Aug. 6-8.
In the 12-year-old division, which drew 142 qualifiers from around the country, young Harpe tied for 90th place, shooting 81, 82 and 80 over the course of the three days of play.
His total of 243 was a highly competitive score — had he shot six less strokes, he would have placed in the top 50.
His mother, Yvette, who walked the course as a spectator, and father, Tom, who served as caddy, accompanied Harpe to the tournament.
The course, his mother said, “Was Pinehurst No. 4 which is a beautiful, rolling course with over 180 sand bunkers to avoid.
“It (the course) was set to play at 6,000 yards.”
In all, over 1,300 qualifiers from ages 6 to 12 years showed up to play in the tournament.
The Sunday morning following the tournament and just hours before the family was to return to Payson, Harpe was allowed to play Pinehurst No. 2 course, which will be the site of the U.S. Open. Normally the fee to play is $410, but because the Rim Country boy was a US Kids competitor, his fee was $25.
“He had two birdies through the 15th (hole) when he had to leave so we could head for the airport on time,” Yvette said.
With the national tournament behind him, Harpe has set new goals that include playing in two years for Payson High School, then at Arizona State and finally as a professional.
Harpe qualified to play in the World Championships on June 23 at Lone Tree golf club near Chandler. There, he won the 12-year-old age group championship carding a one-over-par 72.
During the fray he scored three birdies and was under par at the turn.
The second-place golfer finished seven strokes behind Harpe.
While that win was a huge accomplishment, the RCMS student has shined at other tournaments winning three gold medals. He was first in a JGAA tournament played April 23 at Los Colinas near Queen Creek and took top honors in U.S. Kids tournaments contested June 25 at Club West in Phoenix and on May 29 at the same Lone Tree course he qualified for the world championships.
In addition to playing golf, Dean was a Payson Little League all-star last summer.