Kadi Pallastrone wasn’t born with a golf club in her hand.
She didn’t spend her days toddling around her backyard hitting plastic golf balls back and forth across the lawn.
In fact, the Pine View High School senior didn’t even set foot on a golf course until she was 10 years old.
It wasn’t until her father, Rudy, a former golfer, decided to sign her up for lessons at Evie’s Golf Center in Sarasota that Pallastrone began to show an interest in the sport.
But, Pallastrone’s passion for the sport didn’t develop overnight.
After spending countless sessions learning how to swing a golf club and the rules of the game, Pallastrone started to grow tired of the sport’s repetitive nature.
“At first, I didn’t really like it,” Pallastrone says. “I got kind of bored doing the same thing over and over again. But there’s actually a lot more involved than you think, and it’s really fun.”
It wasn’t until she took her game to course that Pallastrone realized there was more to golf than just swinging a club.
“I like the mental aspect of golf and having to choose what kind of shot to take,” Pallastrone says. “There are so many ways to do one thing.”
After taking her initial set of lessons, Pallastrone began competing with the Greater Sarasota Junior Golf Association.
Since then, the 16-year-old has developed into one of the area’s premier golfers, having won the past five GSJGA tournaments for the 16-to-18 female division.
Pallastrone began training with former PGA Tour player Barry Cheesman about one-and-a-half years ago.
“When I started working with him, I wasn’t anything special,” Pallastrone says. “He’s definitely my favorite coach who I’ve ever had. He teaches me what to know on the course. It’s all about the mental aspect.”
On June 26, Pallastrone teed off in the U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship sectional qualifier at Lake Wales Country Club, where she shot a 77 on the 6,200-yard course.
Pallastrone put herself into a six-person playoff for the second alternate spot and ultimately won the playoff after two holes.
With the win, Pallastrone secured the second Florida alternate spot for the U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship July 22 through July 27, at Sycamore Hills Golf Club in Fort Wayne, Ind.
“It kind of means that all of my hard work paid off,” Pallastrone says. “I had to be as good as I can be. It’s just amazing. I never thought I would make that, especially being only 16.”
Most recently, Pallastrone tied for 20th at the Florida Girls’ Junior Championship July 1 through July 3, at The Oaks Club in Osprey. It was Pallastrone’s first time playing in the event.
“The best girls from Florida were there,” Pallastrone says. “I was very excited, and it was a really fun and great opportunity.”
Now, with her latest tournament behind her, Pallastrone will spend the remainder of the summer volunteering and competing in the GSJGA Summer Series.
Pallastrone has spent the past several years helping teach mini-tour camps for children, ages 5 to 10.
“I love getting the kids introduced to golf,” Pallastrone says. “It’ll be neat to come back and see them doing some of the same things that I did when I was playing on tour.”
She also is one of three junior representatives on the GSJGA board.
“I get to see both sides that most people don’t get to see,” Pallastrone says. “It means they really value my opinion and what junior golf can do for you.”
Next month, Pallastrone will begin preparing for her final high school golf season.
Pallastrone joined the Riverview High girls golf team four years ago and has been the team captain the past two seasons. As a freshman, Pallastrone helped lead the Lady Rams to a sixth-place finish at the FHSAA Class 2A Finals.
Pallastrone advanced to the regional tournament as an individual last year and has aspirations of leading her team past the district tournament and hopefully reaching the state tournament as an individual.
“In our matches, four people’s scores count to move on, so we strive for every person to do as well as she can,” Pallastrone says.
Following her senior season, Pallastrone hopes to land a golf scholarship. Pallastrone, who plans to major in pre-medicine for pediatrics, has been looking at Queens University of Charlotte and Stetson University.
In addition, Pallastrone hopes to qualify for the 2016 U.S. Women’s Amateur, which will be held at Rolling Green Golf Course near Philadelphia.
“That was my dad’s home course when he was younger, so it would be really (special) to play where he’s a champion,” Pallastrone says. “My dad won the club championship there 30 years ago.”
Contact Jen Blanco at email@example.com