Tuesday, June 20, 2023

By Joe McDonald

RIGA Senior Writer

EAST PROVIDENCE – The environment surrounding the 61st Northeast Amateur Invitational at Wannamoisett Country Club has a strong community feel to it, which is the goal for this annual event. Time and again, it’s a success.

Still, every year the tournament committee, and local members, attempt to make it better both on and off the golf course. This year, a few players participated in the first-ever Northeast Amateur Junior Skills clinic. Twin brothers Maxwell and David Ford, along with J.M. Butler spent more than 30 minutes demonstrating different golf techniques, answering questions, signing autographs, and taking photos with a group of nine local junior golfers.

In fact, the questions were interesting, and the answers were thoughtful. It didn’t take long for the junior golfers to notice that Maxwell swings right-handed, while David is a southpaw, so they weren’t surprised when the obvious question was asked: “Why is one right-handed and the other left-handed?”

“That’s a better question for our mom,” David answered. “She calls us ‘mirror twins.’”

Maxwell responded with a laugh: “I knew we were going to get that one today.”

In fact, the twins were asked to participate in a friendly competition by switching clubs to see which brother had a better swing from the opposite side. The kids decided David looked more natural from his off-hand than David. Maxwell said he went through a phase last spring when he practiced left-handed to balance out the muscles in his body. David admitted he hasn’t practiced hitting from the right side too often, but last week at the Palmer Cup he hit a few of “Mr. Palmer’s” righty clubs.

Still, the brothers, both standouts at University of North Carolina, enjoyed the clinic on the range at Wannamoisett. They also competed in a long drive and closest to the pin contest for the junior golfers.

“It’s cool,” Maxwell said. “I’ve never really done anything like this, but I’ve been on the other end of it. It was a lot of fun.”

David concurs.

“I was on the other side of these a few times, but overall, it’s really fun,” he said. “It’s a fun thing for us to do and doesn’t feel like a burden at all. It’s fun hanging out with the kids and hit golf shots. I really enjoyed it and it was fun.”

Butler, a standout at Auburn, grew up in Louisville and remembers how the older players he admired helped spark his interest in the game of golf, so he jumps at any chance to give back.

“This is what it’s all about, inspiring the next generation of golfers and getting these kids interested in the game of golf,” Butler said. Golf “has changed my life and I had guys when I was younger who I looked up to, so it’s really cool to be in that spot now where I have a chance to help these kids love the game of golf. It’s really cool to see how happy they are and just enjoying being out here.”

This is Butler’s third time playing in the Northeast Amateur.

“This is the best,” he said. “It’s my favorite golf tournament of the year. Not only the golf course, and Wannamoisett Country Club, but everyone’s in a great mood, the food’s great, and I just love this place.”