Thursday July 13 is Independence Day for local high school golfer Amy Pearson. She turned 16 on this date and pending the successful outcome of a driving exam, she will be the proud owner of a driver’s license. A landmark for any teenager, once Amy receives her license, she will no longer need to catch a ride to her favorite hangout’the local golf course. For the past seven years, she has been at the mercy of her mom, dad, brother, aunt or uncle’s schedule to hitch a ride to the local course’let alone any number of other courses in the area she has already played. To Amy, golf has become more than just a hobby. As Brady High School’s top female golfer this past year, Amy spends every chance she can get making rounds at the local links or hitting balls at the driving range. Those hours of practice are beginning to pay off. Amy helped lead the BHS golf team to its first-ever district championship. In doing so, she carded the lowest single round score of the entire district giving her the top medal for the tournament. Amy recently traveled to Wichita Falls along with three other Bradyites to compete in the Texas-Oklahoma Junior Golf Tournament. Past winners of this prestigious event include current PGA touring pros such as Tom Kite, Ben Crenshaw and Scott Verplank. Brady’s Casey Long, Jake Long and Calli Koe Shelby also made the trip to the tournament where over 1,400 young golfers between the ages of nine and 16 competed for national bragging rights. Competing in the 15-year-old girls’ division, Amy placed 11th out of 40 girls in her division. Girls were first allowed to play in the tournament in 1977, but it was not until 1984 that they received their own division and named a champion and a runner up. Playing on three different courses in the race for the top slot, Amy qualified for the final round with scores of 85, 89 and 85. She closed out the tournament with an 84 which seated her in 11th place. “This is one of the most popular junior tournaments in the nation,” said Amy. “It is the biggest junior tournament in the United States, and you have to enter early because the slots fill up quickly.” Introduced to the golfing world by her parents Al and Carrie Pearson at the ripe young age of nine, Amy was killing time at the practice range with her father when he handed her a club and asked her to take a swing. “He handed me a club and said hit it, so I did and it was a good shot,” recalls Amy. “From then on I was hooked.” “My first set of clubs was a set of hand-me-downs from my mother. The funny thing now is that my dad is borrowing my clubs.” Only a week after she returned from the Texas-Oklahoma tournament, Amy competed in an 18-hole West Texas Junior Champions tournament at the San Angelo Country Club. Slotted in the 15-18-year-old girls’ division, a round of 83 was good enough to give her first place in her division. Playing golf year ’round is part of Amy’s plan for securing a golf scholarship to the college of her choice. As the only sport in which she participates, she devotes all of her time toward bettering her swing and lowering her scores. “My brother, Albert, and I like to push each other whenever we play a round,” said Amy. “We usually play a couple of times each week and the competition keeps us going.” Under the watchful eyes of Brady High School golf coach Chris Huffman for the past two years, Amy continues to make regular trips to San Angelo for private instruction with her coach Lance McMillan. Of all the rules of golf, one unwritten one caught Amy off guard a couple of years ago while competing in the Northern Texas PGA state tournament in Dallas. Playing in the heat of the day when the heat index was nearing 114′, Amy failed to drink enough fluids and had to withdraw from the tournament due to heat exhaustion. “I learned the hard way that drinking lots and lots of water was really important,” she said. “Now, my brother has taken on the role of my conditioning coach and always wants to play right in the middle of the hottest part of the day. It’s not a bad idea really because the course is usually less crowded and it gets me in shape for tournaments.” Looking ahead to the future, Amy has already begun eyeing various post-secondary schools with reputable golf programs. She has begun keeping record of tournaments played, scores and rankings of each tournament as well as where she is ranked among other players from around the area. Looking ahead, Pearson is excited about the next high school golf season. “We will be playing new places and new people all next season and that is really something to look forward to,” she said. “It’s going to be different, and that is what I need to help me be a better player.” In the meantime as she prepares to face the opponents of the new district, Amy has set her sights on lowering her scores before the school’s golf year begins. “Right now my goal is to be shooting in the upper 70s,” said Pearson. “I am only four or five strokes away from that now and I really think I can be there by December.” Her love of the game of golf keeps Amy going back for more. Bad shots, good shots, low scores and high scores, she claims that having fun at what she is doing is the number one priority.