Hannah Grace Nall follows golf, in the footsteps of dad Jason
Hannah Grace Nall competes at the U.S. Kids Golf Qualifier in Cookeville, Tenn., in June. (Submitted photo)
By DANNY P. SMITH
It is the dream of every father for his children to follow in his footsteps.
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So far Hannah Grace Nall is doing a pretty good job of it.
Hannah Grace has taken up golf, the game that her father Jason loves, and has already been successful at a young age.
At 7-years-old, Hannah Grace already has many junior tournament titles under her belt and looks for more to come.
After competing at the U.S. Kids Alabama Tour Championship in Birmingham on Monday, Hannah Grace will play at the U.S. Kids World Championship on August 4-6 at Pinehurst Resort in Pinehurst, N.C., which is labeled as the home of American Golf.
Jason has played golf for most of his life, including junior golf, and still has a passion for it.
The thought of Hannah Grace doing something special with a golf club in her hand makes Jason proud.
As time passes, Jason sees the potential in Hannah Grace more and more.
"One thing I've learned over the last two years with Hannah playing in these tournaments is that I am a much better caddie than I was a player," Jason said. "I enjoy it and it's a lot of fun for me. I've always enjoyed watching golf on TV and watching tournaments. Being involved in tournaments again is fun."
Hannah Grace started playing golf at 2-years-old and it began as just a fun activity of putting and chipping.
Golf became more serious for Hannah Grace as she got older and began entering some tournaments at the age of 4 when the Nall family moved to Starkville.
After winning several other 6-and-under tournaments, Jason thought it was a good idea to find someone to instruct Hannah Grace. He sought out a friend in Tony Luczak, the director of golf at Mississippi State, for his assistance.
Jason likes having someone with Luczak's reputation working his daughter.
"Tony is a good friend of mine and he's had a lot of success bringing up junior golfers in other places he's been before coming to Mississippi State," Jason said. "He's developed a lot of talent in New York and Florida. We're happy to be working with him and it's a blessing to have Tony here."
Luczak calls Hannah Grace "the most energetic junior" he's ever met and likes the way she approaches everything with a competitive spirit.
"The girl dances, she does our SNAG programs and our training programs," Luczak said. "She loves to be competitive. She wants to beat me in contests we have here in our studio or out on the golf course and she does not like to lose."
Hannah Grace with the help of Jason have sought after the best competition for girls 7-and-under and it has been a good ride.
"We've had a lot of fun traveling, playing a few courses and making a few pars and birdies," Jason said.
Paula Creamer (a.k.a. the Pink Panther) is Hannah Grace's favorite player on the LPGA Tour and likes putting the most in her game.
Her best memory of competing was when a butterfly landed on her hat on the first hole during a tournament in Birmingham.
"The first time it was like someone was sprinkling stuff on me and I won first place," Hannah Grace said.
Hannah Grace, who will attend Sudduth Elementary this school year, returns to the place where she had the butterfly experience for the Alabama Tour Championship and also looks forward to competing at Pinehurst.
The U.S. Kids Golf World Championship is the largest and most prestigious event in the world for players 12 and under. The three-day event is held in a setting of tall southern pines and Donald Ross greens. It attracts over 1,200 participants from across the United States and more than 30 countries abroad.
Players ages 6 to 12, qualify for the World Championship through World Championship Qualifiers, Local Tours European and Regional Championships and performance in previous World Championships.
Luczak said Hannah Grace doesn't mind hard work and believes the training received is why she has had success already at a young age.
"We have her doing ballistic training here in our studio," Luczak said. "She's throwing around (exercise) balls and other things like that. She loves to do things like that. I don't even have to force her into it. She's the one who always says, 'can we throw the ball around now?'"
With that commitment, Luczak agrees it appears Hannah Grace has taken the correct path in life.
"Exactly. And I don't think too many people can stop her," Luczak said.