Two young Piedmont golfers make the finals of Drive, Chip & Putt
Check it out, Wyndham Championship. You aren’t the only reason the Piedmont gets national TV attention for its golf chops.
This month, for the first time, the Triad will be represented at Drive, Chip & Putt, a youth golf competition held on the eve of the hallowed Masters Tournament — and not by one but by two local golfers: 9-year-old Gabriella “Gabbie” Moorehead of Burlington and 11-year-old Ellen Yu of High Point.
The Golf Channel will televise the competition on Sunday, April 7, the day before practice rounds begin at Augusta National Golf Club.
Started in 2013, Drive, Chip & Putt culls 80 of the country’s top male and female golfers, ages 7 to 15, for the contest every year. Competitors accumulate points based on three drives, three chips and three putts.
To make the finals, Gabbie bested 7-to-9-year-old girls in the regional round at The Honors Course near Chattanooga. Ellen topped the 10- and 11-year-olds at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland.
Both girls were introduced to golf by their parents. Ellen, the daughter of Kale and Julia Yu, started playing at age 7.
“I saw athletic gifts in her that I thought would translate well to golf. She has good eye-hand coordination, good attention to detail and a lot of power for a girl her age,” says Kale Yu, Ellen’s dad.
Ellen is home schooled and plays every day, weather permitting, sometimes for seven hours at a stretch. She carries a 4.9 handicap, and her best score on nine holes is 30 strokes.
“She’s totally focused on her golf,” says former PGA player Mike O’Briant, who coaches Ellen at Thomasville’s Colonial Country Club. “She enjoys playing and practicing as much as any youngster I’ve been around.”
Gabbie, who can be seen on the greens at Stoney Creek Golf Club and Starmount Forest Country Club, picked up toy clubs about age 4 and quickly cottoned to the game, often playing with her parents, Erin and Matt, and with her grandmother, Barbara Fry of Greensboro.
Her instructor, Precision Golf School’s Ted Bonham, says Gabbie’s strength is putting. Her drives — she can tag it 160 yards; not bad for someone who weighs 55 pounds — will get better with time because she naturally has the lifting finish that’s the cornerstone of the modern drive, he says, and because she picks up on his pointers quickly.
“She understands what I’m telling her, and she accomplishes it,” he says.
Aside from golf, Gabbie enjoys playing violin, taking dance classes, doing taekwondo and Girl Scouts, and hanging out with her new baby sister, Madilyn.
In a questionnaire for DC&P, she said her ideal Champions Dinner after the junior competition would be Kraft macaroni and cheese, grapes and chocolate cake. We say, dig in! — Maria Johnson OH