Mustang senior has eyes on state title in final season
It is a career that really began no differently than some of the opportunities a golfer from Eldon has before them today.
Kassidy Hull, a returning All-State senior at Eldon, did not start out traversing the country or signing up for expensive private lessons. One day, she simply went to a clinic taught by PGA Professional Michael Cummings at Eldon Golf Club and eventually began playing in the Lake of the Ozarks Junior Golf Association (LOJGA), which has transitioned to the Missouri Golf Association (MGA).
Now, entering her final year as a Mustang, Hull has spent the summer teeing off amongst some of the top golfers in the country and currently has her sights set on a state title this fall. It just goes to show what is possible with a little passion and dedication.
“I just started to come to the clinics that Mike taught here once a year in the summer,” said Hull, who recalled picking up a golf club for the first time around the age of 4 or 5 years old. “I did those for a few years and when I was 9 I just signed up for LOJGA and I went and placed. I was like, ‘Ok, I am kind of good at this,’ so I kept doing it and had Mike coach me a lot throughout the summer.”
Well, the first medal Hull won turned into a few more as she won the Missouri Golf Association’s Junior Tour on several occasions, including another title on August 10, while also earning Player of the Year honors in her division for accumulating the most points. And the resume is quite a bit more extensive than that.
The senior has qualified for state each year of her golf career, earning All-State honors by finishing seventh as a sophomore and third as a junior. Hull also has two straight individual Tri-County Conference and district championships and the level of competition Hull has played this summer is beyond some of the best the state of Missouri can offer.
She was one of six golfers chosen to represent the state of Missouri in the 52nd Junior Girls Four State Championship from June 30 to July 2 in Columbia, a tournament also featuring the best golfers from Kansas, Iowa and Nebraska. Missouri finished tied for third with Iowa, following the championship team from Kansas and second place Nebraska.
About a month later, Hull was invited to play in the National Invitational at Pinehurst Resort in Pinehurst, North Carolina. Invitations are based on state championship performance and Hull was one of four invited from the state of Missouri to be in a field of 103 golfers from 38 states. The Eldon golfer finished in a three-way tie for 39th in the three-day, 54-hole tournament.
“It is pretty intimidating and an eye-opener, I guess. It makes you push harder because when you are just competing with the same people all the time, it is kind of just routine. But it pushed me a lot, for sure,” Hull said of playing on a national scene.
“I think just playing with girls from other states and better players, you kind of pick up some tips they do or hear about different things they work on. It makes you realize what you can work on, too.”
Hull will certainly get to that as she prepares for her final season with the Mustangs this fall. After winning the Missouri Junior Tour on August 10, Hull said there is always something to improve upon, never letting her drive and determination to get better be complacent. That journey continues, but Eldon coach Matt Frey already sees what she has done for the future of a girls golf program that is less than a decade old.
“She does not see it but she has really laid the groundwork. We have had some good female golfers come through before, but they played on the boys team and never really got to shine on their own platform so Kassidy really has basically laid the groundwork,” Frey explained. “We have girls that are in elementary and middle school getting into golf because they see what Kassidy has done. It is funny because they watch her walk by, watch what she does and it really drives them. We have some at the driving range that grind hard because of what Kassidy has done.”
With one final season left to go on the high school links, the hope is that she and the rest of the Mustangs will get to complete the journey that began on her home course at Eldon Golf Club in the middle of a pandemic that continues on. Hull said she just wants things to be as normal as possible for a program she has loved to represent.
“I live here, basically at the course,” she said with a smile. “It is a small town so you know everybody and we are all just very close so I love being on the team. It is better than being a huge school where you don’t even get to get close with anybody. I really appreciate that I get to know everybody well.”
And it is not just Hull who has high aspirations for the fall. Eldon returned each one of its golfers from a program that has won two straight team district titles and will be pursuing a third. The hopes and expectations will be just as high, if not higher, as Missouri expands its postseason for girls golf from two classes to four.
“She knows this season we have a chance to win a third straight district title and that is something she really wants to do so she is pushing those girls,” said Frey who described Hull as a leader who does a good job of making sure her teammates are on top of things and continuing to get better. “The fact that we did not lose anybody is huge for us so we’re basically going with the same team again and that means a lot.”
As for Hull herself, hitting the links with some of the best golfers in the country may make winning state back home in Missouri seem even more attainable. After all, she was actually just one stroke behind the leader after the first day of the state tournament last year and Frey said she has all the tools she needs. The senior’s approach may be something other golfers should pay attention to.
“She really does love the game and she is competitive. She practices, and every coach could say that somebody could practice more, but that is one thing I push the girls on is work ethic,” the coach remarked. “You have to work and want it more than anybody. Golf is a team sport, but it is still individualized in the end. You can go as far as your game will take you so I think that is something Kassidy has really shown. You can be on a team that is good, but you can continue to go as far individually as your game will let you. Her work ethic and drive is good, she has a lot of drive in her golf game.”
Hull is also looking for her game to continue beyond high school as well with hopes of playing collegiately. She plans to play on the Junior Tour once again in the summer, but she has not decided where her new home links may potentially be. However things play out, whether it is a full season in the fall or potentially even an alternative season in the spring because of the pandemic, Frey noted that the senior has already proven her abilities.
“It has been nice for her. She is pretty humble about her golf game and doesn’t like to brag about herself, but some of the tournaments she’s been in this year are big,” he stated. “She has taken a lot in from it and I think she knows she has the game to go to the next level and play in college now, competing against some of the best players in the country.”
And when that day may come, it will surely be another source of pride for Eldon and the stories of inspiration the community has been known to provide. Hull has already done that for a younger generation of golfers, regardless of what the future holds.