Learning from the best in the game

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Kelsey Dill is no stranger to big performances at competitive golf tournaments.

Coming off a tournament in which she placed in the top 10, Dill competed in the BankPlus Junior Pro-Am for the Sanderson Farm Championship in Jackson, Miss. on Sept. 18.

The nine-hole tournament was unique in a variety of ways, more so in that the players got to spend the day golfing with professionals.

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Dill was paired up with two other male golfers and a professional golfer, Parker McLachlin, which was a situation that caused her some anxiety at first.

“I was the only girl on my team so it was intimidating at first but, I was proud that I was able to make some of the necessary shots I needed to make in order to help my team,” Dill said.

Dill buckled down and pushed through the worry to perform well in a tournament, which featured some of the best golfers in the state.

“I think my approach shots to the green were some of my better shots. Two things that I really need to improve on are my chipping and putting. Since I’ve been home I’ve tried to focus a lot on these skills,” Dill said.

Countless hours were put in to prepare for the tournament, and Dill said golf is a sport in which time and dedication are necessary to be successful.

The success also came with some learning opportunities as Dill spent the afternoon with a professional golfer.

It was a situation Dill wasn’t used to, but she said the tips and tricks she learned were invaluable.

“He was very nice, and offered me some tips on some shots that I didn’t quite hit right. He was very helpful and encouraging. It is an experience I will never forget,” Dill said.

The tournament was an eye opening experience for Dill, and she said seeing the game played at such a high level reaffirmed her desire to get better.

The mental aspect of golf is just as important as the ability to make a putt, which was another thing Dill got to work on during the tournament.

“I learned how to handle my emotions in front of a large group, and also got to see how the game was played at a professional level,” Dill said.

Scores were kept during the tournament, but the object of the competition wasn’t to see which golfer would come in first.

Instead, it was positioned as a learning opportunity for young golfers to spend time with a professional, and pick their brain on how to improve.

Dill said that aspect of the tournament was especially helpful, and she’ll continue to work to get better before her next tournament. “I will mostly be focusing on my putting and chipping. I’ll also be working on my drives, and continuing to focus on my mental game,” Dill said. Dill will be playing in the Kelly Gibson tournament on Oct. 5 and 6 in Mandeville, La.

Then she will head to Lake Caroline in Madison, Miss. to play in the Mississippi Junior Golf Randy Watkins tournament on Oct. 12 and 13. Pearl River Central High School’s golf coach Shelly Dill, who is Kelsey’s mother, said golf is sport where players can continue to improve, and she expects her daughter to continue to put in the work.“Golf is a tough sport. There is always something to work on, but chipping and putting is tough. You can drive the ball to the green every time, but you have to be good at your short game,” Dill said.