Jaden Dumdumaya, Golf’s “Lil’ Dragon”

From junior golfer to golf prodigy—meet the teenager who’s taking the golf world by storm.

Jaden Dumdumaya poses with a bag embroidered with his nickname on it.

FAIRFIELD – Years ago, Stan Dumdumaya gave his son, Jaden, a nickname.

The nickname, “Lil’ Dragon,” has stuck. It’s on Jaden’s golf bag.

“My dad gave it to me growing up. I’ve always had that,” said Jaden Dumdumaya, 15, a resident of Fairfield. “I was always fierce, always wanted to win. I’ve always liked competition.”

The competition for Jaden can be on the putting green, driving range, or the golf course. It’s something he has been embracing, with a ton of excitement and confidence, from a very young age.

“I always give my kids nicknames. It’s a positive thing,” Stan Dumdumaya, who is Jaden’s coach, said recently at Paradise Valley Golf Course. “He’s always been here and runs around. No fear. He’s always talking to the older people. You know, he plays against them. He putts against them.

“So I go, ‘You’re Lil’ Dragon. You’re stronger.’ ”

There is no doubt about it – Jaden Dumdumaya is one of the top junior golfers in the state.

“He may be little, but he dominates,” said Jenny Dumdumaya, Jaden’s mother. “He bombs the ball. And he speaks fire when he’s on the golf course.”

Jaden, a sophomore at De La Salle High School in Concord and the Junior Tour of Northern California Boys Player of the Year for the 2020-21 season, will travel some 2,600 miles later this year when he goes to the Augusta National Golf Club for the National Finals of Drive, Chip and Putt.

He advanced from a local qualifier at El Macero Country Club in Yolo County on July 6, a sub-regional qualifier at the Haggin Oaks Golf Complex in Sacramento on August 3, and a regional qualifier on September 26 at the Pebble Beach Golf Links, all of which were held last year. He had first-place finishes at each qualifier, and now, for the first time, he heads to Augusta National, home of the Masters Tournament, to compete.

He made it in his seventh year of Drive, Chip and Putt qualifying.

Drive, Chip and Putt

Drive, Chip and Putt is a joint initiative that was founded in 2013 by the Masters Tournament, United States Golf Association and The PGA of America. It’s a free nationwide junior golf development competition aimed at growing the game by focusing on the three fundamental skills employed in golf, according to www.drivechipandputt.com.

“By tapping the creative and competitive spirit of girls and boys ages 7-15, Drive, Chip and Putt provides aspiring junior golfers an opportunity to play with their peers in qualifiers around the country,” Drive, Chip and Putt points out on its website, www.drivechipandputt.com.

Participants who advance through local, sub-regional and regional qualifying in each age/gender category earn a place in the National Finals, which is conducted at Augusta National Golf Club the Sunday before the Masters Tournament and is broadcast live by Golf Channel, according to www.drivechipandputt.com.

This year’s Drive, Chip and Putt Championship is April 3 at Augusta National Golf Club, in Augusta, Georgia.

“I was very excited when I got to Pebble Beach,” said Jaden, who has been playing in junior tournaments since he was 4. “There has been a lot of my training in the last year. I was happy to have made it and that all the hard work, the practice and time, was worth it.

“It was stressful, as it was down to the last putt.”

According to www.drivechipandputt.com, participants compete in all three skills (Drive, Chip and Putt) and hit three shots per skill for a total of nine shots. Points are accumulated per shot at each skill. The overall champion in each division is determined by the participant with the most points accumulated between all three skills.

Youths compete in four separate age categories, for both boys and girls: 7-9 years old; 10-11 years old; 12-13 years old; and 14-15 years old.

A look at each skill, according to www.drivechipandputt.com:

  • Drive: Each participant will attempt three drives down a 40-yard wide fairway. Drives must finish in the fairway to score points.
  • Chip: Each participant will attempt three 10-15 yard chips at the scoring hole. Chips will be measured from the center of the hole with scoring rings.
  • Putt: Each participant will attempt one putt from 6 feet, 15 feet, and 30 feet. Putts will be measured from the center of the hole with scoring rings.

“You have to really have your ‘A’ game. You only have nine shots – three drives, three chips, three putts,” said Jaden. “It all just comes down to whoever’s ready that day, whoever brings their 100 percent effort. It’s more like a skills challenge, compared to like an 18-, 36-, 54-, 72-hole tournament, where you can still make up for small mistakes on the way. But here, you can’t really have any mistakes. Even if you do make a mistake, you have to learn how to cope with that. It’s like a learning experience.

“I spent six years trying to get to Augusta. And there’s been small mistakes that cost me. I gave my 100 percent and got my ‘A’ game back. I was very excited for that.”

He qualified for the finals, finishing with a first-place total of 160 points in the boys 14-15 division of the regional qualifier at Pebble Beach. He won by a three-point margin, as his final putt stopped two inches from the hole in the scoring ring.

“It all came down to the last putt. It was nerve racking,” said Jaden. “It was a very tight 30-foot putt, a very difficult putt straight downhill. Walking up to that last putt, my hands were shaking. I was really focused on trying to just get it in the hole. The nerves were settling down, but the emotions were definitely there. It’s been about me and my dad’s dream to be able to go to Augusta. I couldn’t believe it at first. It didn’t really hit me until maybe the next day. I was like, ‘Wow, I’m really going to Augusta.’ ”

Jaden had 63 points in the driving, 32 points in the chipping, and 65 points in the putting.

“I did great in the driving. I struggled on the last chip, which put me behind. It all came down to putting. I was more confident than ever because I felt that my putting was in a great spot,” he said.

Jaden advanced to the finals in his last year of eligibility.

“It’s a dream come true to go to Augusta,” said Jenny Dumdumaya.

“This is something that we’ve been working on for the last seven years or so,” Stan Dumdumaya said. “I’m very excited.”

Jaden and his father, Stan, after practicing on the driving range.

Trip to Augusta

Jaden Dumdumaya will be joined at the Drive, Chip and Putt Championship by his parents, Stan and Jenny Dumdumaya; his brother, Vohn Dumdumaya; his aunt and uncle, Kris Braga and Perfecto Braga; and Perry Parker.

According to www.drivechipandputt.com, 80 junior golfers from 30 U.S. states have earned an invitation to the eighth annual Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals, Sunday, April 3 at Augusta National Golf Club. The finals are held prior to the start of the Masters Tournament.

Jaden will also get to see a practice round at the Masters on April 4.

High School & Junior Golf

The high school season starts in February, with De La Salle playing out of Diablo Country Club in the East Bay.

The Spartans’ coach is Jim Collins, a golf professional at Diablo CC.

“We have a great team, our program is great, and our coach is amazing,” said Jaden. “We’re looking forward to competing.”

Stan Dumdumaya said Jaden has some big junior tournaments later in the year, including the Boys and Girls Junior PGA Championships, set for Cog Hill Golf and Country Club in Palos Park, Illinois, August 2-5. There are also American Junior Golf Association, U.S. Golf Association and Northern California Golf Association events that Jaden plans to enter.
Jaden already has nine wins on the Junior Tour of Northern California. He had five wins, a JTNC record, during the 2020-2021 season.

Dumdumaya set a JTNC record for lowest winning score, shooting a 14-under par total at the Summer Series II Championship, a 36-hole event at Poppy Ridge Golf Course in Livermore. He also posted the second-lowest 18-hole score in Tour history with a 9-under-par 63 in the first round of the event.

He finished in a tie for 10th last August at the AJGA Junior All-Star at Stanford, shooting 72-73-67 – 212 at Stanford Golf Course.

He tied for seventh at the 97th California State Fair Amateur Championship last September at Haggin Oaks. In an event put on by the Sacramento Golf Council, Dumdumaya had rounds of 67, 65 and 73 for an 11-under 205 total.

He also played for Team Northern California Golf Association in December at the Challenge Cup, held at Poppy Hills.

The event features the top JTNC players and the top players from the Southern California PGA Junior Tour.

“I’m so proud of him. He works so hard, every single day, just to be where he’s at right now,” said Jenny Dumdumaya. “It’s his dedication, passion, hard work and patience. It’s not easy. It was very difficult getting through to where he’s at. As parents, we’re here to support him. Hopefully, this will be a very rewarding year for him.

“Right now, his goal is to get into a very good college that can provide him a good, quality education.”

Jaden at the 2020 Men’s CA State Fair Championship with Jane Siebers, Executive Director of the Morton Golf Foundation.

Support of Morton Golf Foundation

Dumdumaya is the recipient of the Morton Golf Foundation Junior Golf Development Grant. The grant provides “financial support for families to help their children learn to compete, develop skills, enhance core values, and build lasting relationships through the game of golf,” according to the Morton Golf Foundation website, mortongolffoundation.org.

According to its website, mortongolffoundation.org:

“The Morton Golf Foundation funds programs offering a healthy outdoor recreational environment that stresses the building of lasting personal relationships while seamlessly instilling life’s core values for the youth, disabled, and under-served communities of Sacramento.”

The Morton Golf Foundation Junior Golf Development Grant has been a big help for Jaden and his family, Jenny Dumdumaya said.

“Thank you to Morton Golf. The things that they do for these children and for Jaden, it’s a huge help for families like us,” said Jenny.

Marty James is a freelance writer who makes his home in Napa. He retired on June 4, 2019, after spending 40 years as a sports writer, sports editor and executive sports editor for the Napa Valley Register, a daily newspaper in Napa County. He is a 1979 graduate of Sacramento State and a member of the California Golf Writers & Broadcasters Association. He was inducted into the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Hall of Fame in 2016.

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