Melissa to play for university in Arizona

Qualicum Beach golfer impresses recruiters despite being new to the sport

Kayli Melissa is a late bloomer when it comes to golf.

The Qualicum Beach golfer just started playing the game with some seriousness in the summer of 2015. She was a quick learner and had honed her game in a very short period of time.

Melissa entered the realm of competition just over a year ago. In her last year in high school, she played for Kwalikum Secondary Kondors golf team for the first time. She made a good impression of her potential, not only to her high school coach Butch Gayton, but also to university recruiters from the United States.

“She has only been playing tournaments for a year and I think that’s why she’s piqued some interests down south because she’s an unproven commodity,” said Gayton. “She is just brand new to golf.”

Melissa’s decision to make a serious commitment to golf at a late age was motivated by her older brother, Brayden, who landed a scholarship for a university in Utah.

“I said I’d like to do that, a play sport that’s so well-rounded and get an opportunity to travel, see other cultures and experience so much more,” said Melissa. “So in the summer of 2015, I told my dad, ‘Hey can I do this?’ He said ‘Why not.’”

Melissa’s father, Gord, who is the manager and head professional at Pheasant Glen Golf Resort, entered her in the club’s junior academy. That got her completely hooked on the game. To become good, Melissa said, she had to put in countless hours of playing and training.

“It was quite a grind,” said Melissa. “I had to practise five days a week for a year to get my scores down. With the help of my dad and also a few other coaches, my game has come along so far and I am so grateful.”

It helped draw the attention of Ottawa University in Arizona, who approached Melissa and last April invited her to visit the school located in a fairly small community in Surprise, Ariz. After the tour that included visiting the place where she would be living, the golf course and also meeting up with some of the other coaches, Melissa liked what she saw and didn’t waste any time.

“I just loved the school and the place,” said Melissa. “It’s a small NAI school in a small community. I come from a small community and it just feels right for me. I told my mom, ‘I don’t need to think about it.’ So I signed a letter of commitment to play for Ottawa University.”

Melissa is eager to start the season. She is currently working at Pheasant Glen and uses the playing privileges she has there. After working, she’s out there working on her strokes.

“I am glad I decided to take golf because now I will be playing in Arizona,” said Melissa. “It will be exciting to be part of a new program.”

Gayton said Melissa has a lot more to work on to become even better. But he is confident Melissa will develop her game even more in Arizona.

“She’s already doing very well despite her inexperience,” said Gayton. “She’ll come along very nicely with more practice and being exposed to the game more. She will do well.”

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