In the year and a half since Kylani Gathers started swinging golf clubs on her 7th birthday, the Winthrop Charter Academy student has made great strides. Earlier this month, she was the runner-up in the Junior Honda Classic in West Palm Beach and has big goals for the future.
Kylani’s father, Corey Gathers, bought her a set of real golf clubs for her 7th birthday, and she has been working hard to succeed ever since.
“In 2020, she participated at a local junior golf clinic just to see what she could do for fun,” said Corey. “By the end of the session, the golf instructor wanted her to come back for more instruction and encouraged us to participate in competitive junior golf.”
In January of 2021, Kylani entered her first U.S. Kids Golf tournament.
“After placing last place in that tourney, Kylani worked very hard to not be there again,” said Corey. “She did finish the winter season but did not place well at all.”
During 2021, Kylani participated in three U.S. Kids Golf seasons. According to Corey, she finished as top five in the spring, season champion in the summer and season champion in the fall.
“She started the year shooting a 58 (+22) for nine holes and it lit a fire in her,” he said. “By the summer, she shot her lowest score of 38 (+2) and her stroke average was 42 (+6).”
She traveled the East Coast to participate in regional tournaments, advanced to the sub-regional for the Drive, Chip, Putt Competition and received an invitation to and competed in the U.S. Kids Golf World Championship in Pinehurst, North Carolina, placing 43rd in the world ranking for the girls 8-year-old division.
Most recently, Kylani placed runner-up at the Junior Honda Classic in West Palm Beach. The golf tournament was held at the PGA National Resort and Golf Course.
“The Honda Classic is essentially a professional event; however, the IMG Academy sponsors the junior portion of the event,” explained Corey. “She set her personal record by shooting even par (36) in tournament play. This was a big step for her as she set a goal at the beginning of the year to shoot under par.”
Corey feels her passion for golf will help Kylani go far.
“Kylani truly has a gift in the game of golf,” he said. “In your average person, the progress she has made in this game comes over years. She has cut that time tremendously and works hard toward becoming her best.”
To learn more, visit www.kylanigathers.com or follow her on Instagram at @kylanigathersgolf.