Chowchilla nine-year-old headed to the Masters for Drive, Chip & Putt National Finals
This Sunday, as a sort of kick-off to the Masters, 80 junior golfers will compete in the Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals at Augusta National Golf Course. It's a competition that focuses on golf's three fundamental skills. One of those 80 finalists is a third grader from Chowchilla.
The first thing you notice about Asterisk Talley is her swing - drive; chip; putt - it all looks smooth, effortless, easy.
The second thing you notice about this Chowchilla nine-year-old is the colors - neon pink shirt; a specially designed pink and green club head that looks like, well...
"My dad usually describes it as Austin Powers," says Asterisk.
Plus, she plays with a collection of balls that look like a pack of highlighters.
“I really like colored balls, and I really like the rainbow," she says. When it’s raining and it gets sunny, rainbows are actually a sign of happiness, sometimes, so I really like the rainbows, and colorful things.”
Asterisks's dad, Jim Talley, adds, "She likes things that are loud and bright colors. That’s just being a kid, I think she just likes the fun colors. Makes the game more enjoyable, you know.”
Sports are, of course, more enjoyable when you're really good. Asterisk first started golfing with a plastic set of clubs at age three, and went to her first instructional class about a year later.
“A girl there named Megan was doing it. She was like, ‘I think you guys have something here,' says dad. "Even at the age of - I think she was four at the time - she was like, ‘she’s really good, like even better than some of the nine and 10-year-olds I have.’"
Since then, Asterisks's parents estimate she's won 70 tournaments, including the 2016 U.S. Kids World Championship in North Carolina. She once shot a 30 for nine holes, and now, Asterisk is one of only 10 girls in her age group headed to one of the most famous golf courses in the world, Augusta National, for the Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals.
“I love being out there," says Asterisk. "It can be challenging sometimes, and I like the challenge, and I just want to do better every day, to improve.”
Asterisk loves competition, but also just likes meeting new friends and seeing new, beautiful courses as she travels. She plays piano, does gymnastics, and enjoys reading and art.
“People are amazed at how she plays, but other than that, she’s involved in a lot of other things and we try to keep it that way," says Jim. "We want her to enjoy it, we want her to have fun, as long as she’s having fun, that’s all we want, you know.”
You notice - Asterisk Talley is unique. The first name, the game, and in a sport where 99 out of 100 players use a white ball - all those colors.
Asterisk says, “I do like being different. Whenever I see a colorful ball, it’s like, ‘wow, I can’t believe it’s a colorful ball and it’s not white.’”
Asterisk had to win three local and regional qualifiers to make it to the National Finals. She got six teeth pulled the day before the last of those, and still won.