Kelly Xu drives, chips and putts her way to Augusta fame

By Michelle Krasodomski

SCGA Youth on Course member Kelly Xu is only 9 years old yet she has already made history. She drives the ball an average of 160 yards, stands at 4’8” and is Augusta National’s first female champion.

The Masters Tournament Foundation, PGA of America and United States Golf Association partnered to create the Drive, Chip and Putt Championship, a free, nationwide junior skills competition for girls and boys ages 7-15, in efforts to promote increased participation in the game of golf. The inaugural event was held just prior to the 2014 Masters.

Before making her first trip inside the exclusive gates of August National GC, Kelly took some time to study the history of the famed course that would play host to the Drive, Chip and Putt Championship. In person, Augusta took her breath away.

“It felt like strolling through a museum of golf history,” said Kelly. “I was walking in the footsteps of the greatest golf legends.”

The competition is a creative way to test a golfer’s driving, chipping and putting skills in a competitive environment, which was intriguing to Kelly and enough to convince her to sign up. In July of last year, she advanced through the regional qualifying stage for her age group (7-9) that was held at Morongo Golf Club at Tukwet Canyon.

“I was able to identify my weaknesses in the regionals,” said Kelly, who won her age group by an impressive 19 points. “My first drive was out of bounds, so I knew to focus more on practicing driving when preparing for the championship.”

Kelly’s drives were fine at Augusta. And so was her chipping. She earned 10 points in those categories, giving her 20 points and a three-point lead heading into putting, where some nerves started to show.

“I had very little time to get used to the greens before the competition that morning,” Kelly said. “The nerves arrived, especially before my first putt.”

She earned 4.5 points in the putting round, enough to earn the first Drive, Chip and Putt title of the day.

“It was relieving that my hard work paid off,” she said.

Kelly is already planning for her golf future, which will hopefully include getting a college education and playing on the LPGA Tour. As a fourth grader, she has plenty of time to work on her golf game and thanks Youth on Course for providing her with affordable golf opportunities in Southern California.

“I am very thankful to the Youth on Course program,” says Kelly. “It has enabled me to practice and play on many golf courses throughout Southern California, which made my win at the Drive, Chip and Putt championship possible.”

Think you have what it takes to compete at Augusta? Registration for the 2015 Drive, Chip and Putt Championship is now open! Click here to register today.


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