Rim Country Middle School seventh-grader Dean Harpe swung his way to a 12th-place age group finish at the prestigious U.S. Kids Golf Desert Shootout.
In the tournament, played Dec. 28-30 at the Wigwam Golf Resort in Litchfield, Harpe finished with a total score of 242 that included rounds of 90, 73 and 79. Harpe was competing for the first time in the 13 years age group that drew 32 entrants.
“Dean’s birthday is right before the cutoff at the end of January, so he hasn’t actually turned 13, but he plays as a 13-year-old,” said Dean’s mother, Yvette. “He’s probably the youngest in his age group.”
During the tournament, Dean’s parents took turns caddying for the boy, depending on when their work schedules allowed time.
Last year in the same U.S. Kids tournament, Dean shot a 256 and was 26th in his age group.
Next up for the young golfer is a regional U.S. Kids tournament to be held Feb. 14 and 15 at Jekyll Island, Ga.
Harpe last competed there during the 2007-2008 season.
The road to the top
Harpe’s dream of playing golf on the national level first turned true last summer when he stepped onto the 114-year-old Pinehurst Course in North Carolina — one of the most historical and exclusive clubs in the country. He was there as one of Arizona’s representatives at the U.S. Kids World Championships. 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.
Harpe qualified to play in the World Championships early last summer 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.
While that win was a huge accomplishment, the RCMS student has shined in other tournaments, winning three gold medals last spring and summer. He was first in a JGAA tournament at Los Colinas near Queen Creek and took top honors in U.S. Kids tournaments contested at Club West in Phoenix and at the same Lone Tree course he qualified for the world championships.