Playing golf is becoming second nature to 13-year-old Rylee Heryford. Golf entered her life when she was 5 and Heryford has worked to improve on the golf course since then.
Heryford of Newton is the Iowa Junior PGA 13-and-under girl’s player of the year, earning 8,597.50 points during the 2017 golf season. This division had the closest race all season of the Iowa PGA Junior Tour, which ran from June to August and the Iowa PGA Junior Fall Classic on Sept. 23.
“Getting player of the year has made me very thankful for all of the people who put the time into making this happen,” Heryford said. “All of my work and effort is paying off. It was a very close race with one of my very good friends from Bettendorf. I am happy and thankful that I came out on top.”
Heryford edged out her closest competitor, Erika Holmberg of Bettendorf, by 60 points. There were 10 to 20 girls consistently competing each week in the 13-and-under division.
The seven players of the year for 2017 will be honored at the All Star Pro Golf Awards Luncheon on Oct. 17 at Riverside Casino & Golf Resort.
Heryford was invited to represent the state of Iowa in the Cobra-Puma Iowa PGA/Gateway PGA Junior Cup Matches in June 2018. In addition, she will be recognized at the 18th Green Champions Ceremony at the Principal Charity Classic in 2018.
Heryford played in 16 events, had five first place finishes and never finished out of the top 3 when she played. She won the final two events — the Junior Tour Championship on Aug. 10-11 at Copper Creek Golf Club in Pleasant Hill and the Iowa PGA Junior Fall Classic at Amana Colonies Golf Club.
She shot an 80 (39-41) to win her division at the Junior Tour Championship then posted a 42 for nine holes at the fall classic. Heryford, who is an eighth-grader at Newton’s Berg Middle School, won an 18-hole tournament in July at Springbrook Country Club in DeWitt and a nine-hole event at Glynns Creek Golf Course in Long Grove on Aug. 1 on a season-low 38.
“I enjoy playing golf because you are the person in control of what you are doing,” Heryford said. “I also enjoy golf because each hole is a new hole, and you can just keep moving on after what happened on the last hole.”
Heryford said she plays golf all year round with her main season in the summer. She said she hits balls and takes lessons throughout the year with her coaches, including John Shawyer at Fore Seasons Golf. Heryford calls Newton’s Westwood Golf Course her home course.
Heryford is the daughter of Jason and Kerry Heryford of Newton. She plans to play golf at Newton High School next year.
“I believe that if you want to accomplish things then you have to put in the time,” she said. “I would like to go on and play college golf at a Division 1 school. I think that if I keep practicing, and working my hardest, I can accomplish this.”
Contact Jocelyn Sheets at 641-792-3121 ext. 6535 or firstname.lastname@example.org