Ashley was excited for the challenge of playing in the event as all the local junior tournaments she plays in are strictly stroke play events. The Coral Ridge Country Club Women's Club Championship is an 18-hole match play event, and it is played from the middle tee (5,800 yards). At CRCC, to compete in the Women's Club Championship if you are under 18 years of age, you must have a GHIN handicap under 10.
The final match for Ashley was against accomplished Andrea Kraus who has an impressive list of golf achievements and is also the defending 2022 Coral Ridge Country Club Women's Club Champion.
The match between Andrea and Ashley was tight. It was the first time Ashley has ever played with a large gallery following her and it continued to grow as they made the turn. The match was all square going into 18. Both players hit solid drives. Andrea out drove Ashley, so Ashley was up first with her approach shot standing 130 yards from the flag She then hit her 6 iron and saw it roll up the slope of the green and back towards the pin. The pin was hidden in a valley on the green, so Ashley couldn't see where her shot ended up, but thought that it would be within 10 feet. Andrea hit her approach shot onto the green and they both approached the green. Ashley was still unaware of where her ball was, so she brought her putter and wedges up to the green since she thought it might have rolled off the side. She couldn't locate her ball. Her Daddy Caddie was the first on the green and was walking past the hole to the rough when he noticed that the ball was in the hole! She had Eagled the 18th hole to win the club championship 1 up.
Odds makers would obviously make Ashley an underdog in the match, but you know the outcome. Ashley's mom Gina said, “Ashley was completely unaware of Andrea's accomplishments; she just knew Andrea had a lower handicap than her.”
As with many club championships, one of the sought-after perks is a reserved parking spot in a premium location at the course for the next year. Through the years, Ashley would see the names of the Club Champs and comment about one day winning that spot. In this case, the Club Champion won't have her learner's permit for another two years. Maybe Ashley will allow mom and dad (Gina and Tom) to use the coveted spot every once in a while!
Coral Ridge Country Club has a long history of producing quality golfers who go on to have impressive amateur and professional golf careers. Maybe Ashley Balcom will be the next. She certainly has taken the first step.
From 3 months old, in her baby carrier, Ashley's father Tom would bring her out to the Coral Ridge Country Club driving range to have her watch him hit balls. As Ashley grew, she always looked forward to joining her father for golf cart rides and putting on the practice green with her pink putter and pink balls. Tom would always make it fun for Ashley. She remembers he would reward her at the end of practice with a chocolate chip cookie from the clubhouse and a ride out to hole #16 to feed the fish and turtles.
Ashley took her very first golf lesson with CRCC's PGA Pro, Brett Martin at just 4- years-old. She was excited to play in her first CRCC junior tournament at 6 years old in the Mighty Might division. She got bit by the golf bug and would ask to join Tom on the weekends to play with him and his friends. As her passion grew, Tom took on a new role as Daddy Caddie and worked more with Ashley as she began competing in local South Florida golf tournaments (US Kids, Broward JGA, Gold Coast Junior Golf Foundation). He laments that his golf handicap continued to increase as Ashley's handicap was slowly decreasing.
You can follow Ashley and her golf journey on her Instagram account @ashleybalcomgolf