MCCORDSVILLE, Ind. (BVM) — Golf is one of the few sports that people can play throughout their lives, whether they are a young kid or a senior citizen. Many golfers take up the sport when they are young, just learning the fundamentals and preparing their game for the future. But every so often, a special talent comes along at a young age.
In the state of Indiana, that talent is 9-year-old Ressie Lemmon.
Ressie began playing the sport just three years ago. She was drawn to golf after watching her older brother, Elijah, play on the links. Like Elijah, Ressie has since been taught the game by her grandfather, Tom Kirby. Being around her family is one of Ressie’s favorite parts of the sport thus far.
“What I love most about golf is that I get to spend time with my family while playing the sport,” Ressie said.
The 9-year-old is active and also plays basketball and soccer while competing in gymnastics. But golf has quickly emerged as her best sport, and it is thanks to the tutelage of Kirby.
“He [Kirby] has probably been the most important part of me golfing,” Ressie said. “I love to spend time with him on the golf course and listen to him when he tries to help me.”
Ressie noted that currently, the two are working on some changes to her swing. But she already can do things on the course most girls her age can’t, whether it is driving the ball well over 150 yards or draining a long putt. It is putting — one of the biggest challenges of the sport — that Ressie considers the best attribute of her golf game currently.
The young golf star often plays at Ironwood Golf Course in Fishers, Ind. But she has gotten to experience a number of courses over the last few years playing in different tournaments — most through U.S. Kids Golf.
The first tournament Ressie played in was when she was 6. But just two years later, she took home perhaps her most impressive win to date in the U.S. Kids Regional Invitational on the Ryder Course at PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, Fla. Ressie shot a 7-over, 79 on the round, coming from behind to earn a one-stroke victory amongst the seven girls who played in her age group.
Ressie continues to play with U.S. Kids Golf, and enjoys the increase in challenge of the tournaments as she gets older. Like she does with her family, Ressie also enjoys the opportunity to make and spend time with friends through the program.
“The tournaments, especially the local tour, have some of the same girls each time,” Ressie said. “So it is fun to become friends with those girls.”
Typically shooting in the 30s on nine holes, with a personal best score of a 3-under par 33, Ressie is clearly one of the best young golfers in not only Indiana, but the Midwest as a whole. She proved so last year when she earned a trip to Augusta National Golf Club — home of the Masters.
Each year before the Masters, Augusta holds their annual Drive, Chip & Putt competition in conjunction with the United States Golf Association and the PGA of America. Several different local and subregional qualifiers are held to determine regional qualifier participants.
From there, 10 regional qualifiers are played with the 10 winners from each of the four different age groups going on to participate at the national competition at Augusta.
At the Oct. 2019 regional qualifier at Oakland Hills Country Club in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., Ressie put her talents on full display. In the Drive, Chip & Putt competition, golfers get three balls for each part of the game, getting more points the closer they chip and putt to the hole, and more points the further they drive.
Ressie put up unmatched scores of 26 in both the driving and chipping portions of the event, and also put up an impressive 41 for putting. This gave Ressie a total score of 93, over 20 more points than her next closest competitor. The win created a proud moment for the young golfer.
“It was really cool,” Ressie said about winning the regional qualifier. “I was really excited because it showed all of my practice had finally paid off.”
Of course, months after qualifying, Ressie would learn that the 2020 Drive, Chip & Putt competition would be postponed along with the Masters. Although the latter will be played this November, the Drive, Chip & Putt competition will not be held until April of next year, prior to the 2021 Masters. While discouraging, Ressie knows the wait will be well worth it.
“I’m very excited to go,” Ressie said. “I know many people dream of going to Augusta and never get to. It will take a lot of hard work and focus to win, but I will enjoy my experience there no matter what.”
Ressie will get to be at Augusta right around the same time as some of golf’s biggest names, and her biggest idols, including Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Tiger Woods and Rickie Fowler.
But she also looks up to Elijah as a role model, and is becoming one at the same time for her younger sisters — Nellie, 7, and Winnie, 2. Both Nellie and Winnie are following in their older siblings’ footsteps, and it is the family support and motivation that Ressie has come to love on the golf course.
“Most of the time it is fun, but sometimes we still fight on the course,” Ressie said about playing with her siblings. “But that’s because we are very competitive and try to beat each other. At the same time we support each other while practicing together.”
Beyond competing at Augusta next year, and continuing on with U.S. Kids Golf, Ressie already has goals set for her future. She hopes to eventually play college golf down the road, with goals of shooting consistently under par at that point.
An emerging golf phenom, Ressie also believes playing professionally could be in her future. Although a long way off, she knows if she remains committed to the sport she has what it takes, and it would not be a surprise to anyone to see this young, humble golf star among the pro ranks someday.
“It would take a lot of practice and dedication, but I think I can do anything,” Ressie concluded.