Winning six straight championships and going for number seven is anything but easy. It takes a level of commitment to a program, a group of competitors that know each other and play as a team and it takes a tremendous amount of heart. Which is precisely what Desert Hills’ very own Kyla Smith is made of. Heart!
Spend time with Kyla and you quickly discover that there is far more to the young lady than her golf swing. SUU fully appreciates the Kyla’s talent and ability and she is certainly looking forward to playing for the Thunderbirds once her time with the Thunder is complete.
Balancing her athletics and academics with the other activities that are important to her, Kyla has found what makes her happy, serving others. “I don’t have too difficult of a school workload this year,” shares Kyla. “I’m taking two classes off because I volunteer at a pre-school as a student teacher for a couple hours on the mornings I have off.” With plans to major in Special Education in college, Kyla intends on joining the field of Elementary education. “I worked at the SUU head start program and it’s a really good program and I love working with the kids so I am looking forward to that. I really enjoy doing it.”
“I want to make sure that I have the best four years of my golf career that I have ever had when I go to college“
In addition to volunteering at the pre-school Kyla loves to travel. Since service is the epitome of who she as an individual, and the heart of service she possesses is so great, Kyla and her mother Kerri, were fortunate enough to spend a week volunteering at a Guatemalan Orphanage for the benefit the children in the impoverished country.
While on family vacation, the Smith’s does their best to catch a round or two of golf. Doing so while on vacation offers a vast amount of experience for the young golfer by playing courses she might not otherwise be able to play. “Kyla has played the White Witch course in Jamaica and the Fazio Barefoot Resort course in South Carolina, both of which were where the Golf Channel filmed two different seasons of Big Break in addition to playing courses in Alaska, California, Arizona, and Nevada,” shares David, Kyla’s father.
Never expressing fears regarding competition or the pressure that comes from sports, Kyla has, for the most part, embraced each tournament opportunity as exactly that: an opportunity. “One thing that perhaps has been her area of consternation,” dad shares, “is wanting to shoot some tournament scores in the 60’s. She has had some great rounds at even par for 18 holes and under par for 9 holes, but she really is driven to shoot a 69 or better someday soon.”
During her freshman season, Kyla shot and sank the coveted hole in one. While it has been some time since the elusive shot, her father thinks that perhaps, “she feels she is due!” So rare a shot it may be, one in a career is impressive by anyone’s standards. “She has had a couple very close ones, especially at the FCG nationals, (where she finished 5th) and lipped out a hole in one on the second day,” shares dad.
Remaining focused in such a mentally competitive sport is difficult to do. In a game where even Kyla has witnessed a few competitors have “melt downs on the course,” maintaining her composure while on course is a sign of a mentally tough player. David states, “she takes her golf very seriously and that personal pressure is usually expressed in the car on the way home, in tears.”
Knowing that it can be very difficult to stay focused, especially for a round of tournament play that can last up to six hours, Kyla admits that she can at time feel overwhelmed. “This last year was a challenge because we were going for our sixth title. I know it was a lot harder on Katie who was golfing the number one position but there was pressure last year because I was playing to not only win but to get into a good college after school. Now that I know here I am going to school [SUU] after I graduate it does take a lot of the pressure off.”
“I golf year round. In the winter I take a lot more lessons to get better and perfect my game. I don’t do that in the season because I don’t want to change a lot of stuff then,” Kyla points out. “I work on my swing all year so that when I go into the season then I can just worry about playing my best.”
The question has been asked of many would be golfers; Would you rather have Tiger Wood’s clubs or his swing? The answers can be telling. Those who would rather have the clubs are fans of the game. Clubs are merely tools of the trade. Whereas those that would prefer his swing understand the mechanics of the game and what it takes to win.
The reaction to Kyla’s swing from spectators and players alike is something that David appreciates when he witnesses his daughter competing. “It is a quality golf swing. You can tell a good golf swing when you see it. I’ll never forget, we went to the Phoenix Open a few years ago and we had a great dad/daughter day watching the pros play. As we were leaving they had a contest at the Oakley booth, a hitting simulator and it was to see who could get the closest to the pin on the simulator hole of the number 16 hole at the Open. So she was up on the stage and she hit the first ball and put it maybe twenty feet from the hole and her second shot was eleven feet away. It was the third best the entire day at as she came off the stage everyone was high fiving her. It was so neat to see her because as soon as she hit the ball the oohs and ahhs from the people watching her, from a dad’s perspective, was special to see.”
The eventual goal from Kyla is to golf professionally and understands what takes place in college will play a vital part in that decision. “I want to make sure that I have the best four years of my golf career that I have ever had when I go to college. If I do succeed in that, then I think I could definitely consider going pro. That would be a very nice career. I just want to become the very best I can in everything I do.” • HSSI