A 12-year-old Waterloo girl has already accumulated quite a list of golf accomplishments and is driven to succeed even further in the sport.
“I enjoy it a lot,” Reese Kite said of her favorite sport. “I love to compete.”
Chris Kite said he took his daughter along to the driving range at J.B. Golf Tee in Columbia when she was 5 “just for fun” and was impressed with Reese’s swing right away.
“She had a natural swing, so we just kept at it,” Chris said. “She like to practice, so that makes it easier.”
One of Reese’s earliest memories of golf was playing in her first tournament at the age of 6.
“I remember that I didn’t place and I was sad,” she told the Republic-Times. “I asked my dad, ‘So when’s the next tournament?’”
Reese has used that inner drive to improve in the sport. She practices at Annbriar Golf Course in Waterloo four times a week and plays in a tournament nearly every week through the Gateway Junior PGA or other regional events.
“She works really hard,” Chris said. “She’s always had a talent of being able to hit the ball a long way, which puts her ahead of many players her age.”
In fact, Reese has competed in 110 total tournaments and has won 66 of them.
“She’s really competitive,” Chris said of his daughter. “With golf, it’s just her out there and that drives her. You can measure yourself pretty easily in this sport.”
Chris said he used to golf quite frequently, but started to slow down once Reese was born. Both Reese and her 8-year-old brother are the golfers in the family now.
As a Waterloo Junior High School sixth grader, Reese competed last year in the Illinois Elementary School Association state golf tournament for junior high students. She placed sixth overall with a score of 79, which was the lowest total for a sixth grader in the tourney.
Reese is a four-time Gateway Junior PGA Player of the Year. In 2017, she was the U.S. Kids Golf Summer Local Tour Champion and USKG Midwest State Invitational Champion.
Reese has advanced three times to the regional round of the Drive, Chip & Putt Championship, which is a nationwide junior skills competition open to boys and girls ages 7-15.
“That has allowed her to play on some great courses around the country,” Chris said.
Reese won the girls ages 10-12 division of the Illinois Optimist Junior Golf Tournament played June 11-13 at Red Tail Golf Course in Decatur. That qualified Reese for the national Optimist golf event in Florida, but she opted not to participate.
On July 8, she shot a 77 to win a Gateway Junior PGA tournament at The Legends in Eureka, Mo. That was her lowest tourney score ever, according to Chris.
Reese said her favorite pro golfer is Michelle Wie.
“I like the way she swings and that she was the youngest to qualify for the LPGA,” Reese said. “She’s just a great role model.”
For now, Reese’s goal is to keep working hard in the sport and improve every day. She hopes to one day golf at the college level.
From there, who knows?
“I want to see how far I can take it,” she said.