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Teeing Off

Local golf pro qualifies for 2018 PGA Professional Championship

Writer / Jon Shoulders
Photographer/ Amy Payne

By age eight Brittany Kelly, the current assistant golf pro at Woodland Country Club in Carmel, was already imagining herself competing as a professional golfer. Riding in carts along with her father and maternal grandparents as they played courses around central Indiana, a young Kelly would be allowed to keep score and hit the occasional ball, stoking her nascent love for the game.

“I wanted to start competing in tournaments, and my dad was the one that really got me interested in it,” Kelly says of her father Ken, the former boys and girls golf coach at Carmel High School. “I started competing at a pretty young age in four-hole tournaments in Hamilton County Junior Golf and a few of the different younger tournaments.”

In 2011, during the fall of her senior year at Ball State University where she played golf for four years and studied sports administration, Kelly began mulling her options for a career centered on the game she loves and decided to attempt to qualify for the Ladies Professional Golf Association’s (LPGA) Futures Tour, now known as the Symetra Tour.

“The LPGA had a qualifying school that was just for the Futures Tour, and I played the best golf I’ve ever played there,” recalls Kelly, a lifelong northsider who attended Hamilton Southeastern High School. “So, I started competing in professional tournaments after my senior year.”

After two seasons touring on the Futures Tour, Kelly was ready to return to the north side of Indy, and in March of 2013 she secured a position as assistant pro at The Hawthorns Golf and Country Club in Fishers, where she remained for the next four years.

“I’m more of a homebody and like to not have to travel as much,” Kelly says. “That’s where the interest sprung up in doing something close to home.”

It’s not in Kelly’s nature to let her competitive spirit lie dormant for too long. This summer, a few months after becoming an assistant golf pro at Woodland Country Club in Carmel, she decided to give the Indiana PGA Championship her best shot, as the only female in a field of more than 60 competitors.

Kelly’s 20 years of hard work and dedication towards her golf game paid off as she tied for second overall and qualified for the 2018 national PGA Professional Championship next June in Seaside, California.

“I was tied for the lead with four holes to go,” she says of the state PGA competition. “I didn’t realize how big of a deal it was until all the pros came up to me afterwards and were saying, ‘This is going to be the best experience you’ve ever had, so prepare for it and take it for all it’s worth.’”

Accolades and strong finishes have been a constant throughout Kelly’s playing career, including All-Mid-American Conference honors for three years at Ball State as well as 2017 Indiana Section PGA Assistant of the Year. She attained PGA membership status last year and qualified for the 2016 national PGA Assistant Championship.

Kelly says the opportunity to compete at the national PGA Professional Championship next year validates her long-time commitment to the game of golf.

“I work very hard on my game,” she says. “I practice every day of the week, whether it’s for 15 minutes or for two hours depending on what I’ve got going on. To finally see a result from all that hard work is indescribable, honestly.”

Kelly plans to continue competing in tournaments in preparation for the national PGA Championship next June, while continuing to give lessons and serve as tournament director at Woodland under her assistant pro title.

“I’m competitive by nature,” she says. “I was a three-sport athlete in high school and I always want something to look forward to every week. I enjoy giving lessons to students of mine and helping out with running events, but there’s always that little competitive side of me where I want to test out all the hard work I put in for my game.”

About Jon Shoulders

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