By LARRY VAUGHT
Her father was hitting golf balls in the yard when she was only 4 or 5 years old. That’s the first time Trinity Beth of Marshall County tried swimming a golf club — and she hasn’t stopped from the time she got a three-club Barbie Mattel golf set until she finally got what she called “real clubs” to use.
Now Trinity, age 11 and a fifth-grader, is one of the state’s best young golfers who would love to follow in the footsteps of Caldwell County’s Emma Talley, who is about to start her second season on the LPGA Tour after winning three state high school championships and a NCAA championship at Alabama.
She recently played in the Junior Honda Classic at the PGA National Golf Club in Florida. She played up in the 12-13 age division and still won her age group in a playoff after rounds of 76-76 gave her an 8-over par 152 in the 36-hole event.
“This was a really big tournament for her to win,” her father, Aaron Beth, a former basketball player at Marshall County and Vanderbilt, said.
Last spring she qualified for the national Drive, Chip and Putt Finals at Augusta (Ga.) National Golf Club, the site of the Masters. She also won the state middle school championship this school year — she’s not old enough yet to play on the high school team — by eight shots.
Winning is something she’s already done a lot and figures to do many, many more times.
“She has that my competitive streak that my wife and I had playing college basketball (she played at Western Kentucky). She likes to win and doesn’t like to get beat,” Aaron Beth said. “I was so excited when she won her first tournament at age 7. I kept the golf ball. Now 75 balls later we are getting quite a collection (of balls from tournaments she’s won).”
Talley has had a major impact on Trinity Beth’s career already and will continue to inspire her.
“It is really cool to know that somebody from western Kentucky can make it all the way to the LPGA,” Trinity Beth said. “I have got to play with her and she is really nice and it’s really cool watching her on TV and everything. I went to a college match (at Alabama) to watch her and then went to U.S. Women’s Open to watch her.”
Trinity Beth had to leave the U.S. Women’s Open early because her brother was sick. Talley had just teed off when she found out the younger player had to leave.
“She came over and signed a ball for me to have,” Trinity Beth said. “She’s just great. She went to Alabama and that’s where I really want to go. I want to be like her.”
That’s one reason Trinity Beth is not playing basketball for the first time this season. Instead, she goes to the golf complex to hit balls. Her father is the head girls basketball coach at Graves County.
“I am not very good at basketball,” Trinity Beth said.
Her father noted that she made the all-star team the previous year but she said it was only because “I was taller” than other players.
Trinity Beth has played in the Junior World Golf Championships the last two years in California and more than held her own. The family travels often so she can play and her father believes playing against older competitors is good for her.
“She played once in the 18 and under division and shot 78-79 against juniors and seniors,” Aaron Beth said. “At age 11 to do that and hold her composure was remarkable and just shows the maturity she has. She is talented but golf is such a cerebral sport with your putting and chipping. She drives it long, and has always done that. It’s been fun to watch her growth and I think she’s just going to keep getting better and better.
“That’s why we don’t go from November to March without finding her tournaments to play in. We want her to play in tournaments and face good competition as often as she can because that’s what makes you better.”
Trinity Beth says her patience and maturity on the golf course are different from other parts of her life.
“I am not very patient when it doesn’t come to golf,” Trinity Beth said. “I am a lot calmer and everything when I am on the golf course. I’m just more focused.”
She says she hits her five-wood better than any other club and considers putting another strength.
“A few days my putting isn’t good but most days it is,” she said. “I just know I have to keep working on everything, though, because I really want to play on the LPGA Tour one day like Emma and I know how much work she has put in. But knowing she’s done and is from around here, that makes me believe I can do it, too.”