Isabella Meléndez of Lake Nona recently won the U.S. Kids Golf 2018 FL State Championship for Girls, ages eight to nine, and is off to compete in the World Championship in August!
Check out our Q-and-A with Isabella and her mom, Carolyn, about her accomplishments and everything she hopes for in the future!
NHN: What was it like to win the U.S Kids Golf 2018 FL State Championship for Girls eight to nine?
IM: It was an amazing experience! I was proud that I did it.
NHN: Was she expecting to win the tournament?
CM: Yes. You definitely don’t know if you’ve cinched the title until all of the scores are submitted from the different pairings in the respective age division. Someone who had a relatively good round the day(s) prior, could have had a fantastic final round, giving another an opportunity to claim that top spot. Upon submitting her final scores at the end of the last round, she was ecstatic that she had secured 1st place and we were all beyond proud! All of her hard work paid off.
NHN: Who was there at the tournament?
CM: Beyond her Daddy Caddie, Carlos, #golfteammelendez carries an entourage of people, including her grandparents, aunts, an uncle, cousins, and of course, her mom. However, her biggest supporter is her little sister, Sofia, who is always cheering her on at every hole.
NHN: Had she [Isabella] ever won a championship before?
CM: No, the U.S. Kids Golf Florida State Championship is her first time. However, at age 7, Isabella placed 26th in her age division at the U.S. Kids Golf 2016 World Championship. At age 8, Isabella placed 13th in her age division at the U.S. Kids Golf 2017 European Championship, followed placing 15th in her age division the very same year at the U.S. Kids Golf 2017 World Championship, earning her an automatic invitation to the 2018 event, which will take place August 2 – 4, 2018 in Pinehurst, N.C.
NHN: How long have you been playing golf?
IM: I started when I was three, but I have been competing since I was six years old.
NHN: What would it mean to you to win the World Championship?
IM: It would mean that I am a step closer to achieving my golf dreams.
NHN: What does her golf dream look like?
CM: Seeking to move up in global rank at this year’s U.S. Kids Golf World Championship, Isabella has her eyes set at placing within the top ten spots. Competitive golf has taken Isabella all around the world. From her home state of Florida to the states of Georgia, North Carolina, New Jersey and California, Isabella definitely enjoys traveling to different courses. She has even had the opportunity to represent Florida/USA in Scotland. It’s important to us that Isabella have balance in her life. After all, she is only 9 so whether it’s a local tournament or one that takes us abroad, sightseeing and doing fun things other than golf is part of her childhood experience, too. From touring the castle that inspired Hogwarts in Harry Potter, body surfing in the Pacific, or catching the latest movie at Disney Springs, a family adventure of sorts is always but a tournament away.
NHN: If she meets that dream at 9 years old, what’s next?
CM: Continue to work on technique, endurance and consistency to ultimately claim one of the coveted top 5 spots, if not 1st place, the following year and whatever aspirations and respective success this turf life brings her thereafter.
NHN: What’s your favorite thing about golf?
IM: Making memories at each and every golf course.
NHN: What would you like to do when you grow up?
IM: Be a professional golf player in the LPGA (Ladies Professional Golf Association).
NHN: What has been the biggest challenge for Isabella while playing golf?
CM: Trying to stay cool, both mentally and physically. Whether it’s during practice or at a championship, keeping a positive attitude is key to staying focused. Especially, after a bad shot. Like all competitive spirits, sometimes she has to be reminded that even the pros have bad shots, bad rounds, and even a bad tournament and not to be so tough on herself. She may not win every tournament, but she is going to try to give it her best. She is young and although very talented, there is still a lot of work to be put in for the long journey ahead.
NHN: What do you hope for her in the future?
CM: As parents, we hope for her to be happy and successful at whatever she decides to do.
NHN: What’s one piece of advice you’d give to Isabella or other young golfers?
CM: Have fun!