Winning your club championship is a big deal. Winning it while you are in high school, remarkable. Two high school golfers, Alyssa Buist a senior at Ridgeline High School in Utah, and Emma Abramson, a sophomore from Massachusetts, join elite company by adding their names to their respective club championship titles while still in high school. With their wins, Alyssa and Emma will both make history competing in the inaugural PGA National Club Championship at Pinehurst Resort this March. We caught up with them both as they gear up to compete for a national title.
Can you tell me a bit more about you, your golf journey, club champ winning details?
Emma – “I love having the opportunity to excel on and off the course. In the classroom, I have utilized my leadership and communication skills by serving as Class President for the past two years. I am also a Sports Illustrated Kids Kid Reporter (1 of 10 selected across the country) where I’ve had the amazing opportunity to interview prominent professional sports figures including Coach Krzyzewski, Bobby Orr, Suzy Whaley, Ben Crenshaw, Jane Blalock, Brad Faxon, and recently Vanderbilt’s football sensation Sarah Fuller. Golf has always been my greatest passion, but up until a couple of years ago, I also played on competitive soccer, basketball, and dance teams and I love to ski.
Team sports have made me a better golf teammate and mentally tougher. Coming from Massachusetts, I’ve been known to play (a lot!) in 30-degree weather in my snow pants and a wooly hat or take my shovel to the driving range! Over the last few years, I have become friends with many of the early morning maintenance workers and late-night crew at my home course.”
Alyssa – “I am a senior at Ridgeline High School in Logan, UT. I have played mostly basketball and softball my whole life until I discovered golf. I live in Logan with my parents and sister and two dogs. I enjoy outdoor activities that include not only golf, but skiing, hiking, and rock climbing.
I started playing golf seriously when I was 14 years old. I chose to try out for my high school golf team in 9th grade and made the team. I was able to earn a spot on the Varsity team as a Freshman and have been able to play in each Varsity tournament since then. As a Freshman, I was able to play in our state championship and ended up being ranked 32nd in the state. My sophomore year my high school won the state championship and I was able to move up to 15th in the state. Unfortunately, my junior golf season was canceled due to COVID, but the state Jr PGA put on an individual state tournament that I was able to play. I placed 5th in the state. Over the past summer, I played in many UJGA and Jr PGA tournaments. At the end of the summer, I placed 3rd in Jr PGA for my age group. All of this has led up to the Club Championship at Logan River Golf Course.”
How did it feel to be the youngest winner ever in the club’s history?
Emma – “This past summer I had the chance to play in our 36 hole stroke play Women’s Club Championship. The women were very welcoming of me and I really enjoyed my time out there on the course. On the final 9 holes of the tournament, neighborhood friends and members came out to watch and cheer me on. On the last hole, I had a 40 yard shot out of a bunker I had never been in before to a par 5 green surrounded by water. I was able to get it on and two-putt for par to win by 5! Winning at age 14 was really cool as this was the first non-junior event I played at my club. I now get to have my name etched on the wall of past club champions and get to go to Pinehurst!”
Alyssa – “The Club Championship was a two-day tournament over a two week period. At the end of the first day, I was in 3rd place with a score of 82. That morning I had another tournament at a different golf course. So I ended up playing 36 holes that day. On the second day of the tournament, I was paired with the two people ahead of me at that point. One of them being the current and 4-year consecutive winner of the Club Championship, Julie, and the other had also won the Club Championship in the previous year. I was 5 strokes behind the leader, Julie, going into the round. I was pretty intimidated because all of the women are way more experienced than I am. I think it is pretty cool that someone that is young and doesn’t have as much experience can be the champion. The other women in the association were pretty excited for me being so young and to have a new champion.”
What are you looking forward to most about Pinehurst?
Emma – “I am thrilled to have the opportunity to go back to Pinehurst, but this time to be playing in a competitive tournament. In spring 2017, I went to Pinehurst on my first father-daughter golf trip with my friend and her dad. We got to play courses 4, 8, and 9. It was an amazing experience playing the unique golf courses, bonding with my dad, and getting to eat at the 1895 grill! Now to return to Pinehurst several years later, with my dad caddying for me, I am excited to have fun, use my new skills, attack the courses, and take on the Donald Ross challenge!”
Alyssa – “I am excited for a few reasons. I have watched tournaments on TV at Pinehurst and am so excited to play at such a famous course. I can’t believe that I am going to get to play on Course No. 2, the same course as the best golfers in the world have played on. My dad has been a HUGE part of my golf career and success and I am excited that he is going to caddy for me and we are going to be able to play a practice round together before the tournament.”
Wishing Alyssa and Emma all the best next month as they compete at Pinehurst Resort for the PGA National Club Championship while making history in the process. The NHSGA will also be heading back to Pinehurst in June for the 2021 National Invitational. If you have a club champion that you would like to recognize, you are able to submit them on pgaclubchamp.org