Local Sports

A world of golf

Kendall Griffin is traveling around the world and playing golf at famous courses that most people only dream about. The 14-year-old phenom has had a remarkable year on the links with her first win in a Florida State Golf Association tournament, a runner-up finish in the U.S. Kids Golf Teen World Championship at Pinehurst, N.C., a trip to China to compete in the Beijing BMW Junior Open and a second-place finish in the FHSAA Class 2A state golf finals. "I love traveling, playing golf and meeting new people," said Griffin. "I've had a lot of fun this year." Griffin, who has a smooth swing and is remarkably accurate, enjoys competing at a high level and always displays good sportsmanship, as evidenced by her runner-up finish at the U.S. Kids Golf Teen World Championship to her friend Kennedy Swann from Texas.
"It was disappointing to finish second, but Kennedy played well and made a lot of putts," Griffin said. "I love competing against good players because it helps to raise the level of my game." Griffin, who has played on the local Sertoma Junior Golf Tour for a number of years, enjoyed the opportunity to play in a golf tournament in China. "China was amazing and so different from Sebring," Griffin said. "The people were very nice to us and I liked them a lot. "I did a lot of awesome things and had a lot of new experiences." Griffin, who competed in the 14-17 age group in the three-day tournament, carded rounds of 83-83-83- 249 over the difficult and long course. "I didn't play my best," Griffin said. "The rough and sand are different from any course I've played. "The rough was long and it was hard to get out of and the sand in the bunkers was like muddy rocks. "The course was beautiful, it played real long, was in great condition and an LPGA tournament was held on that course two weeks after our tournament." Being able to travel and see the exotic scenes of China was a unique experience for Griffin. "We took a bus to the Great Wall of China and the drivers are kind of crazy," Griffin said. "It was wild with a lot of horns honking and a lot of people walking close to the bus. "We tried different food like duck, which I liked, and goat, which I wasn't fond of." The day that Griffin visited the Great Wall of China was a foggy day. "We couldn't really see how long it was because of the fog,"said Griffin. "But it was still pretty awesome to be there and actually be standing on the Great Wall of China." Griffin also visited the Forbidden City. "The buildings are so beautiful," Griffin said. "The tiny details in the architecture are so cool and it's an amazing place." The time change didn't bother Griffin until she returned to America. "I was pretty tired when we got back to Sebring," the talented teenager said. "It was hard to get used to the time difference, but I was happy to be back home. "I really enjoyed my trip and to be able to say I've been to China is so cool." Griffin didn't rest on her laurels as the home-schooled freshman played a key role in the Sebring High School girls golf team qualified for the state tournament. Sebring won the district tournament with Griffin earning medalist honors and the Blue Streaks placed second at the regional competition as Griffin shot a 71. Sebring finished 14th at state and Griffin had rounds of 70-75-145 to place second as an individual. "It was a great experience being at state as a team," said Griffin. "I learned a lot and I hope we can come back the next three years. "I want to thank my teammates because if it wasn't for them playing well and finishing second at regionals, I wouldn't have made it to state." Griffin continues to play in various tournaments around the state. "It's amazing what a game like golf can do for you," Griffin said. "I want to give all the glory to God because He has allowed me to do all of these things through His love. "I've enjoyed everything I've done so far and I look forward to going to new places and meeting new people through a game I love." mpinson@highlandstoday.com 863-386-5837