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Donald Bushman blazing the greens

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SILVER SPRING, Md. – Though he’s only five feet tall and weighs about 100 pounds, Donald Bushman, Oglala Sioux, is making a rather big name for himself on the golf course.

Donald, who turned 14 Sept. 23, was rather impressive on the U.S. Kids Golf Northern Virginia Tour earlier this year.

The teen, who lives in Silver Spring, Md., participated in seven of the eight events on the tour. He registered a top three finish in all of those tournaments.

He ended up being named the Tour Player of The Year for his age group (13 and 14).

By winning his age group on the tour, the teen will receive an automatic entry into a world youth tournament that will be held next year in Pinehurst, N.C. Dates for that event have yet to be announced. Donald is hoping for a respectable showing.

“Just do as well as I can and finish as high up on the leader board as possible,” he said when asked for his expectations at that tournament.

Donald, who is a freshman at Albert Einstein High School in Kensington, Md., has also been turning some heads early on in his high school golf career.

After the first five of 10 tournaments in the late summer/early fall schedule, he was tied for 10th place in the Montgomery County high school circuit.

There are about 200 golfers that compete in the district tournaments.

“I have no doubt by the time he’s a senior he’ll be winning high school tournaments,” said Donald’s father John.

Donald is hoping to win a high school event long before he’s a senior. And he’s rather disappointed he didn’t get to complete a tournament that was staged Sept. 22.

High school golf matches in Maryland consist of nine holes. And he was leading a tournament that day by two strokes after just three holes before a severe thunderstorm cancelled the event.

“I heard words coming out of Donald’s mouth that day that I never knew he knew,” John said, expressing his son’s disappointment at not being able to complete the tournament that day.

Though he’s a freshman at Albert Einstein, Donald is one of six male players named to the school’s team. He’s a half foot shorter than the second shortest member on the team. And many others in the high school district circuit tower above him.

“Some of them are two feet taller than me,” he said, exaggerating a bit.

Despite his diminutive size and lack of power driving golf balls, he has consistently proven he can hold his own on the course.

“You don’t have to be a long hitter,” his father said. “You just have to be in the fairways and have a good to great short game. Donald is very good with his short game. That’s what keeps him in these matches.”

Bushman proved he also has a sense of humor replying with a rather witty comment when asked how long he hopes to play the sport.

“I want to play until I’m able to shoot my age,” he said.

Donald also has some other goals he’d eventually like to achieve. He’s hoping his golf game will land him a college scholarship. And he’d like to become a pro someday.

“He’s told us he wants to be the first American Indian to win the Masters,” his father said. “My reaction to that is that it’s okay to have lofty goals but don’t put all your eggs in one basket.”

Though proud of their son’s golf accomplishments, he and his wife are even more proud of some of Donald’s other activities.

“He’s a very caring kid. He goes out of his way in school, and he’s been doing it since he was in elementary school, to talk to special needs kids.”

Donald has been participating in a school district program for five years that encourages interaction between some of its students and those with special needs.

For the past couple of months, he has also volunteered on Saturdays in the Wounded Warriors Project. This program helps teach golf to American soldiers injured on missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.