Grace Kelbel is a 17-year-old junior at Petoskey High School in Michigan. She started playing just two years ago and really caught the golf bug after playing The Old Course at St. Andrews last April. Grace has already earned All-Conference and All-State Honorable Mentions for Division 2 Schools and recently was named the Petoskey News Review player of the year.
Working as a caddie and bag staffer at the club where her dad, Pete Kelbel has been the head pro for 27 years, Grace is working hard on her game and is starting to get the attention of college coaches. WomensGolf.com caught up with Grace Kelbel and her father/coach.
Grace, what do your think made you want to start playing golf?
I wanted to keep the Kelbel family tradition going and be a fourth generation golfer after my grandpa and uncle passed away, who were both golf professionals and both played college golf. As well as my dad, my Uncle Mark has been the head pro at the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs for the past 15 years.
I have been playing seriously since I was 15, but have been around the game my entire life. So, there have been five golf pros in my family that have influenced me – my father, my two uncles, my grandfather, and my great-grandfather!
What is your home course like?
My dad is the golf professional at Walloon Lake Country Club and I also work there on the golf staff, so I have the gift of being able to play and practice there. The holes on the course have character and each one has its own obstacles, but they all share a hilliness, which makes for some interesting shots. And the view of the lake doesn’t hurt!
Tell us about your experience on the best course you’ve played.
Without a doubt, my best experience was playing at the Home of Golf. Playing and knowing I was walking where the greats like Tiger and Arnie have played as well as where Stacy Lewis won the Women’s British Open was amazing. The people of St Andrews and the course were unbelievable, I would definitely love to go back.
What’s it like having your dad as your instructor – pluses and minuses?
Pluses – He provides me with the best teachings and resources possible. Without him, I wouldn’t be the player that I am becoming.
Minuses – Dad is constantly reminding me what I need to work on, but it motives me.
Grace has progressed nicely and accomplished a lot since mid-August, 2013. We are working on putting and a lot of different chips and pitches as we all know the short game will bring and keep scores down. She casts the club at times and we are also working on keeping her stored power for a longer time on her downswing. We expect another improvement notch for her senior year!
What do you love most about golf?
I love being able to rely only on myself with no one else to blame, I think I thrive under that pressure. And the people I’ve been able to meet and the friendships I’ve created because of the game.
What are your goals in the game?
Breaking 80 in a tournament. I know I can because I’ve shot in the 30s multiple times. And maybe playing college golf or join a club team once I figure out where I want to go after high school! I realize golf is a game of up and downs, I’m just thankful to be able to play and have a chance to improve my game.
Final question, who is your favorite pro golfer?
I can’t just pick one! Right now my favorite players are Rory Mcilroy and Lydia Ko. They bring such a fire and audience to the game. Their dedication, and humbleness, as well as their positive attitude, is admirable. And of course, I would kill for their scores and swings! Tiger Woods and Paula Creamer are also heroes of mine because I grew up with them being the best and most popular golfers.
Thank you Grace – it is a real pleasure for us to feature impressive young women like you who have such an obvious love for the game. Good luck with your golf and college aspirations – I’m sure our readers will be closely following your progress on your Twitter account @GKelbel.