Before the Miss America competition gets into full swing after Labor Day, this year's 51 contestants got an opportunity hit the links at Linwood County Club.

After a few photo opportunities on the practice green and on the course looking out to the Atlantic City skyline, the ladies broke off into groups of three for putting, chipping and driving lessons.

"This is the second year we've done the lessons," said Linwood Country Club Pro Jeff LeFevre.

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"The idea was offered and it was a quick answer of 'absolutely'. It's a really fun day and most of the girls say this is one of the best things they do".

LeFevre, along with club president Rob Salad, Caddymaster Jeff Prescott and other staff showed the girls the basics of playing the game. For some ladies, it was the first time they had held a golf clubs, while others displayed some hidden talents for the game.

Miss Colorado Meredith Winnefeld drove the ball a solid 150 yards, then told her instructors she was on the Arapahoe High School varsity golf team, in her hometown outside of Denver. 

Linwood Country Club staff were also impressed by Miss Delaware, Chelsea Bruce, who said she frequents the driving range with her boyfriend and family.

Miss Alabama Jessica Proctor was focused and competitive at all three lesson stations, but most enjoyed getting to the driving range, where she made hitting a 200 yard drive look easy.

"I'm learning golf" said Proctor, who said she got her first set of clubs last year. "My favorite part is driving. I like the feeling of hitting the ball with some power". 

For others, the day was a welcome reprieve from the chaos of rehearsals and practices, as the Miss America competition takes place in one week.

"Golf is not my calling," said Miss Tennessee Caty Davis "But this feels like a vacation".

After getting some practice on the course, the ladies enjoyed dinner with members and guests in the dining room.

The evening's menu was inspired by national competitors, including dishes like southern peach BBQ chicken, Pacific Coast salmon and local favorites including fresh New Jersey seafood.

The three nights of preliminary competitions for Miss America begin Wednesday Sept. 6 at 7 p.m. in Boardwalk Hall. 

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Joined the Press in November 2016. Graduate of Quinnipiac University. Previously worked as a freelance reporter in suburban Philadelphia and news/talk radio producer.

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