Six-year-old Riley Adkins has been a golfer the majority of her short life, having gotten her start in the sport at the tender age of one and a half years old.
“As soon as she could walk, she had a golf club in her hand,” father Chris Adkins said of her early start in the sport.
Now, after golfing for what feels like a lifetime, Riley is preparing for the next phase in her golf career with her first competition, TYGA in Asheboro next month.
“We’ve been waiting for her to play tournaments since she was one and a half, two years old and now it’s finally here,” Chris said.
Riley’s father said that up until this point, he thought she was too young to participate in competitions, but wants to allow her to progress in the sport, noting that Riley is set to compete in the U.S. Kids Tour in the spring of 2017.
“I want to get her some experience this year before she starts next spring,” Chris said of Riley’s participation in the approaching August competition.
However, with the decision to participate in competitions, Chris said that he wants to ensure that there’s no pressure on his daughter to win and that he doesn’t want the fact that she’s trying her hand at competitions to take away any of the enjoyment that she receives from the sport.
“I want to keep things as normal as possible. She just wants to go out there and have fun and meet new friends. I might be nervous, but I don’t want to put too much pressure on her,” Chris explained.
With the decision to start golfing competitively, comes more grueling practices to Riley’s already extensive practice schedule, where she has been putting in between two and two and a half hours of practice per day, dividing her practice time between morning and afternoon.
“She hits a lot of golf balls to be only six years old,” Chris said of his daughter.
Riley goes to a course once a week with her father to practice, in addition to working with a swing coach, Brian McArthur.
“Riley has a natural talent for golf. At her young age, I haven’t met another junior that understands ‘reading the greens’ as she does,” McArthur said. “I’m very proud of her and her golf game. Over the past two months that I have had the opportunity to work with Riley, she has improved her putting and chipping immensely.”
Golf is truly a family affair for the Adkins family, with Riley’s father having started golfing at the age of 10 and winning a high school state championship with his team in 2002.
As for Riley’s future in golf, her father explained that ideally she will be able to continue her participation in the sport and perhaps receive a college scholarship when she’s older.
“She wants to play golf, when you ask her what she wants to do, she says be a golfer,” Chris said of Riley’s future ambitions. “She wants to play golf for a living so she can go to Disney World whenever she wants to.”
McArthur added, “As much as she enjoys golf now, I believe she will continue to enjoy it for many, many years to come.”
Over the years, Riley has received considerable attention for her golfing, including appearing on ABC’s “Good Morning America” at the age of four and “The Morning Show” in Australia.
Riley cites three major figures as impacting her desire to golf: Lexi Thompson (who at age 12 became the youngest golfer ever to qualify to play in the U.S. Women’s Open), Tiger Woods and most importantly, her daddy.
Riley’s favorite role model, her father, offers her the words of wisdom, “You are only going to be as good as you want to be.”
“As long as she can keep having fun, we’ll keep playing,” Chris said.