Silver Spring teen golfer poised to face stiff competition in Baltimore championship

When Silver Spring, Maryland’s Kayleigh Zeman was 6 years old, she just wanted to play golf so she could spend more time with her dad. It seemed like a simple enough goal, but as her passion for the game grew, so did her talent.

Now, at 18, Zeman has found a path to college through golf and is about to compete against some of the best players in her age group.

During her quest to spend more days with her dad, Zeman ended up on her own golf journey. She’s among 55 golfers representing 12 U.S. states, and Canada, China and Mexico, that have qualified for the American Junior Golf Association’s UHY First Tee of Greater Baltimore Championship.

The recent graduate of Stone Ridge of the Sacred Heart in Bethesda will be on the course at the Hillendale Country Club in Phoenix, Maryland, from Aug. 11-13.

“I love the social connections I’ve been able to make throughout the years. I’ve made so many of my closest friends through playing golf,” Zeman said. “I’m a competitive person by nature, so I enjoy playing against other people, but really I’m also competing against myself, challenging myself to be better and to be mentally strong as I play.”

And, to be sure, Zeman wants to win this week, but golf for her and so many other players is about more than drives and putts. The CPA firm UHY is attracted to supporting the American Junior Golf Association and sponsoring events like the one this week north of Baltimore because of the game’s impact on young lives.

“If you look at a lot of people that are successful in our world — and we are a CPA firm — it is people that have a sports background,” said Harold Mohn with the Columbia, Maryland, office of UHY. “Basically, golf teaches you how to face adversity, and it’s always going to help you in your profession and in life.”

In the fall, Zeman will go to La Salle University in Philadelphia on a partial golf scholarship, and she currently sees herself on an education track with the goal of one day becoming a history teacher.

“Golf has taught me so many life and interpersonal skills that I will use for the rest of my life,” Zeman said.

“I am more confident as a person. I am able to speak to large crowds of people and not get nervous in new environments. I am able to present myself in a way that I want to be presented, and that will help me down the line when I have a job interview or I’m meeting important people.”

The job interviews and important people will come in time for Zeman, but for this week, the focus is solely on the game she loves and also takes seriously. Zeman has made her yardage book for Hillendale Country Club that helps her with a course management strategy to fit her game.

She has a plan for which clubs to use on each hole and is aware of where the course’s trouble spots are.

Still, for Zeman and all of her drive to win, with the competition, there are also the connections.

“I love the girls and this event,” Zeman said. “We have a very competitive environment between us, but the camaraderie is great. We’re genuinely happy for each other and we celebrate each other’s successes. Even if that means that they win and you lose, there is not a negative word. We have a very positive environment that supports and uplifts every other player.”

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