old Topher Reed of Fairview Park sinks a putt during a practice
session last Friday afternoon at Mastick Woods Golf Course.
Topher will play in the US Kids Golf World Championships next
month at Pinehurst Country Club in North Carolina. (West Life
photo by Larry Bennet)
out, Tiger, Fairview’s Topher is on the move
By Jim Horvath
Published July 15, 2009
first glance, Topher Reed looks like your typical six-year old boy.
It doesn’t take long, however, to realize there’s something special
about the soon-to-be Fairview Park first grader.
If you happen to golf at Mastick Woods, you probably
already know that.
You see, Topher is currently ranked as the No. 2 youth
golfer in the world in the six and under category. Last month, he
took second in the Pepsi Little People’s Golf Championships in Quincy,
Ill. in the five and under division.
Early next month, he and his father, Chris, will travel
to North Carolina to play in the U.S. Kids Golf World Championships
at historic Pinehurst. Topher will be one of 1,400 youth golfers
competing in various age categories from 12-years old and under.
And it all started when he was 13 months old, according
to his father.
Reed shows total concentration as he chips one onto the green
last Friday at Mastick Woods Golf Course.
“We were out at a driving range in Avon, and Topher
had one of the adult golf clubs in his hand,” recalled Reed, who
serves as his son’s caddy during tournament events. “I mean, the
club was bigger than he was. He took a swing, and I think he hit
it at least 20 yards, straight down the middle.
“A few months later, we bought him a set of kids clubs.
I used to like working on chip shots in the basement, and he’d come
down with me. He would just kick my butt every time, hitting seven
out of 10, eight out of 10, while I was making three or four.
“Dan Coughlin of Fox 8 found out about him and did
a story on Topher when he was just two years old. I think that’s
when things got serious. We decided to see what he could do,” said
As it turned out, Topher could do plenty on the course.
At age 4, Topher once shot a 54 while competing in
a six and under tournament. At age 5, he won an Ohio championship.
He just turned six late last month, and will be competing in the
six and under division for one more year before moving up.
He competes in a Cleveland area golf league that has
around 120 kids competing throughout the summer. As the season has
gone on, Topher has steadily improved and begun to leave the competition
In March, he was named the World’s Most Talented Sports
Player in the age 5-7 category in Boston. At the US World Qualifier
at Northstar Country Club in Columbus, he shot a 40 in the nine-hole
event. Early in June, he shot a 37 at Big Met to win a youth championship
tournament, giving him three first-place finishes so far this season.
Topher has already faced the pressures of competitive
golf, needing to win a playoff at the Pepsi tourney to grab the
runner up spot.
Reed proudly displays his runner up trophy from the Pespi Little
People’s Golf Championship in Illinois. (West Life photos by
“It was crazy,” said Reed. “The parents of the other
kid were yelling out instructions and putting all kinds of pressure
on their son. I told Topher ‘this is for fun. Don’t listen to that.’
Some people take this too seriously. Don’t get me wrong, we want
him to do well. But he and I are a team, and we work together on
his game all the time.”
As Reed recounted his son’s recent successes, Topher
was working on his putting along with his cousin, Evan. Before each
put, he would line up his shot, take a few practice swings, then
make the attempt. He would even try to polish up his follow through
by using just his right arm.
Although Topher is a natural right hander, he plays
golf left handed.
“That way, he can see the different angles of the
game from both sides,” said Reed. “He seems to see the shot before
he takes it, and he’s made some shots and just amaze everyone.
“You could take a ball and throw it in the rough between
those two trees and he’d be able to figure out how to get the ball
back onto the fairway,” said Reed. “He sees it and sets up the shot
in his head. His concentration for his age is really something.
He pays attention to everything.
“You watch,” said Reed as Topher continued to work
on his putts. “He won’t stop the whole time we’re here. He just
Reed recalled one time where he and his wife, Breana,
took turns caddying for Topher with a friendly little wager as to
who would come away with the best score.
“We wanted to see who would be the best caddy,” said
Reed with a smile. “My wife went out with him first, and he shot
a 39 three over par. Topher and I went out, and he had a triple
bogey on one hole. But he came back, and once we got to No. 9, if
he shot even par we would tie.
“Well, he put one at the edge of this green. It was
a really tough shot. The ball would have to go up, down, back up
again and roll off to the left to make it into the hole. I told
Topher ‘just get it close and settle for a two-putt.
“He didn’t want any part of that. He said ‘dad, you’re
not going to lose to mom.’ He hit the ball and got it right to the
edge of the hole. As we walked up to it, it fell in. He looked at
me and asked ‘you thought I was going to miss it?’ That’s what I
mean. Usually when he says he’s going to make a shot, he sees it,
then makes it,” he said.
A chat with Topher served as a quick reminder of just
how young he really was. A bit shy at first, he eventually came
across with a couple of matter-of-fact statements.
“I got two adult pars today,” he said with a smile.
He talked about how he beat one of his rivals by 10 strokes. When
asked about how he sees his shots before they happen, he replied
“yeah, I see it going into the hole.”
And why doesn’t he let the tough shots throw off his
“Because…I think I can do it,” he said.
For a six-year old, Topher has become pretty well
known, not only in the Cleveland area but nationally as well. He
has his own Website, www.topherreed.com, and has drawn interest
from Oprah Winfrey in her “World’s Smartest Kids” segment.
And, of course, the nicknames have cropped up. Topher,
which is short for Christopher, has been tagged as the Tiger Cub,
in reference to golfing great Tiger Woods. He also has been introduced
to the superstitious side of the sport. According to Reed, Topher
swaps out a golf ball before every tournament at the grave site
of his deceased older brother, who he never met.
“It’s special, because it gives him a chance to share
something with his older brother,” said Reed. “It’s like a good
luck charm for him. When we swap balls out, he’ll talk to his brother
for about 10-15 minutes. Then when he does something well on the
course that day, he’ll look up, wave to his brother and say ‘thank
He also has a golf coach, Mike McCon of Chagrin Falls.
He sees Topher around once a week, said Reed. “He helps me with
the game, too – I’m not a big golfer,” he said. “He shows me what
I’m doing wrong so I can help out Topher more out on the course.”
Though it may seem like pretty intense stuff for a
six-year old, Topher still acted very much his age. He talked about
going to get ice cream after he was done working on his game, and
finished his putting session with some good old-fashioned horsing
“It’s scary to think about what the future might bring,”
said Reed, who works at the Lube Stop in Lakewood and is constantly
getting questions from his customers about Topher and how he’s doing.
“To me, it’s amazing how many people know about him,”
said Reed. “It means a lot to me that people would take the time
to ask about him, or give encouraging words before big tournaments.
The people at Angelos Pizza have been big supporters of Topher,
and Jeff Lukas at Mastick Woods has been a big help as well. I think
there are a lot of people who think it’s really something that a
kid from Cleveland has a chance to be something special.”
Despite the success on the golf course, Reed still
has the concerns that any other parent would have watching their
youngster grow up.
“Every parent wants the best for their kid,” he said.
“You wonder if something good is going to come from it. He’s a good-hearted
kid, but will that change when he starts to get older? It’s truly
“When we go to Pinehurst, I’ll get to be his caddy
and walk the course with him. But in the future, when he’s teeing
off there at Firestone Country Club, I know I won’t be his caddy
anymore. But whatever happens, I hope he grows up to be a respectable
young man,” he said.
With that, it was off to the ice cream stand.