Golf’s Forgotten Prodigy

Editorial Note:  This is a complete work of fiction.  I am doing a profile on a literary character from a book I’ve been working on for a while.  I have done absolutely no editing on this.  Feel free to tell me where I’ve screwed-up.

When Kylee Morgan won the California Junior Girls’ State Golf Championship at the age of 12, she was hailed by the national golf media as the future of women’s golf.  Along with Michelle Wie and Morgan Pressel, Kylee was featured on ESPN and in Sports Illustrated as well as numerous other golf publications across the globe.  The pressure of autograph seekers, media requests, long travel dates, and a grueling practice schedules weigh heavily even on professional golfers, but much more so on a 12 year-old girl.  It would be a heroic saga to tell how Kylee overcame all the strains placed upon her at such a young age and fulfilled her destiny to become the greatest female golfer alive, but that is not Kylee’s story.  While Wie and Pressel have gone on to begin their careers on the Ladies’ Professional Golf Association (LPGA) Tour, Kylee sits alone in her Palo Alto apartment intermittently studying and playing around on Facebook.  To many this may sound like a tragic tale; but you need only to spend a few moments near this intelligent young woman, with model looks, to understand that Miss Morgan’s story is far from over.

Kylee showed a precocious ability for playing golf as early as the age of five.  On the luscious, emerald green fairways of Torrey Pines Golf Course in La Jolla, California; she learned by imitating the swings of her father, John, and older brother, Bryan.  It wouldn’t be long before young Kylee was beating Bryan regularly.  John then entered her in the junior girls’ club championship at the age of eight and when she came in second to a 16 year-old high school junior, John knew then that his daughter was a very special little girl.  He moved the family to affluent Santa Verde, bought a house on a golf course, and applied for Kylee’s admission to prestigious Ocean Bay Academy.  She was accepted and the next four years of Kylee’s life consisted of eating, sleeping, school, and golf.

When Kylee won her state championship, she was already tiring of the brutal schedule that her father had developed for her.  She was no longer the sweet, polite little girl people loved as soon as they met her.  Whether it was her father’s oppression, adolescence, or the sense of entitlement brought about by continued praise; something had changed her into an unruly, disobedient young woman.  “I was real brat back then,” Kylee remembers in her telephone interview with me, “If I didn’t get what I wanted, I would throw the world’s worst tantrums.”

Kylee’s grades began to fall and she was habitually on the verge of losing her place at Ocean Bay.   She practically refused to practice her golf game.  Instead, she opted to go out with her girl friends and with her new found passion – boys.  That was proving to be the biggest problem of them all for John and Grace (Kylee’s mother).  Kylee, who had always been tall for her age, had blossomed and was nearly six feet tall before she was 13.  She was drawing the attention of much older boys, much to her parents’ dismay.  Kylee began to sneak out and go to parties and go over to boys’ houses when she was supposed to be spending the night with a girl friend.  It wouldn’t be long before Kylee began to experiment with alcohol and drugs.  By the time she turned 14, Kylee’s life was a complete disaster.  Ocean Bay Academy finally had enough and expelled her and the expectations of playing golf professionally were drowned in a sea of Jack Daniels.  Kylee Morgan had hit rock bottom.  “I would probably still be doing those kinds of things if it hadn’t been for…”  Kylee’s voice becomes melancholy as she trails off.  The thing she can’t bring herself to talk about is the death of her older brother, Bryan.  She still feels a burden of responsibility for the circumstances in which he met his tragic end.

It was an abnormally cold night for the small southern California community.  John and Grace were on a business trip to Cozumel, Mexico and they had left Bryan in charge while they were away.  Bryan and Kylee were going to have a brother-sister weekend and just hang-out together all weekend.  Bryan had even talked Kylee into playing golf with him on Saturday morning.  They popped popcorn, watched movies, and relaxed around the pool.  Everything was going wonderfully until Bryan woke-up Saturday night to find that Kylee was gone.  She had sneaked out to a party again and Bryan was furious.  He tracked her down, but instead of taking her straight home when he found her, he had some of his friends drop her by their house.  He explained that he wanted to have a word with the two boys who were throwing the event.  That was the last time Kylee saw Bryan alive.  He would perish later that night in a car accident.  “He would have never been out that night if I hadn’t been at that stupid party,” Kylee says with the sting of remorse accenting every word.

The tragedy was enough to shake Kylee from her doldrums.  She was determined that her brother’s death not be in vein.  She managed to earn her way back into Ocean Bay Academy for her freshman year and would graduate as Salutatorian of her class.  She was president of the school’s chapter of Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) and was asked to speak and share her story at the SADD National Conference during her senior year.  She also managed to polish up her golf game and win three more California Junior Girls’ State Championships before hanging up her competitive golf cleats for good.  Today, Kylee Morgan is a sophomore Communications major at Stanford University where she maintains a perfect 4.0 GPA.   She still manages to play at least one round of golf a week, but only as recreation.  Kylee is now more focused on delivering the national evening news to millions of viewers.  Be warned, Katie Couric, Kylee Morgan has her eye on your seat.


About Richard Howk

Fiction author with my first novel, Pariah, available December 2nd.
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