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Playing With the Pros

Featured Photo from Playing With the Pros

Oviedo’s Sarah Scott, 18, was the youngest player ever to compete in the Arnold Palmer Invitational Wednesday Pro-Am in March.

On a beautiful Central Florida evening back in 2008, after enjoying a nice dinner at a local restaurant, the Scott family of Oviedo opted to extend the night with a round of miniature golf. After just a few holes, Peter and Holly Scott looked at each other in shock and amazement. Their then-eight-year-old daughter, Sarah, kept sinking putts and even made a few holes-in-one.

“Sarah was beating her mom and dad and everyone around her,” recalls Holly. “She was dropping in putts and laughing. I thought, ‘What the heck? Maybe we should give her golf lessons.’ And we did. And she’s had quite a talent for it.”

Sarah, now 18, remembers that night and how she found it amusing that she was beating her parents in a game of putt-putt.
“I do remember my dad being surprised that I was making so many putts,” she says, “and a few days later, he took me to a driving range. On my first swing attempt, I hit a straight shot!”

Sarah proved to be a natural at the sport. She started taking golf lessons and was competing in tournaments by age 10.

When she was in seventh grade, Sarah began her six-year run on the varsity golf team at Circle Christian School, and in February she received a full scholarship to play golf for Daytona State College – a program that has won 10 National Junior College Athletic Association championships.

A four-time Player of the Year on the U.S. Kids Golf Tour (ages 12-14), Sarah has also played on the Hurricane Junior Golf Tour, Future Collegians World Golf Tour, International Junior Golf Tour, the Top 50 National Junior Golf Tour, and the FSGA Florida Junior Tour. During her senior year, Sarah helped lead her high-school team to district and regional championships as well as a third straight trip to the state tournament.

During the first week of March, Sarah added to her accomplishments when she became the youngest player ever to compete in the Arnold Palmer Invitational Wednesday Pro-Am at the Bay Hill Club and Lodge, held in conjunction with the PGA Tour event that weekend. She was paired with PGA pro and former Florida Gator Brian Gay. On a cold and windy day, in front of the largest crowd she had ever seen, Sarah shot a 79 on the par-72 professional golf course and was just one-over-par on the front nine. Longtime friend Shanren Brienen was her caddy, and he helped keep Sarah’s nerves in check.

“We’re so proud of her,” Holly says of her daughter’s performance. “Sarah carried herself beautifully and earned so much respect. Many people approached her during the awards banquet to say how much they had been impressed by her.”

Holly and Sarah came up with the idea to participate in the Pro-Am after watching it on TV in 2018. Holly was particularly drawn to the event because it benefited the Arnold Palmer Hospital, where – as a medically at-risk baby – Sarah was born in December 2000.

“I had no idea I was the youngest player to ever participate in the Pro-Am until they announced it at the awards banquet,” Sarah says. “It felt pretty good, and it made me realize how special it was to play in such an amazing event.”

Sarah, an honor roll student who enjoys ballroom dancing in her spare time, loves playing golf and looks forward to improving her game during her two years at Daytona State under legendary junior college coach Laura Brown.

“Sarah will be able to develop her skills further there,” Holly says. “It’s an excellent program; I think it will be an easy transition for her. And, it’s just 45 minutes away!”

Holly is thrilled that Sarah has discovered her passion, but golf isn’t the sport at which Holly expected her daughter to excel. Both Holly and Sarah’s older sister Emily, now a senior at the University of Central Florida, were softball players, so naturally Holly assumed that Sarah would follow suit.

“Initially, I put her in T-ball, like my older daughter,” Holly says, “but Sarah just wasn’t interested in team sports. She was more introverted and quieter growing up, and individual sports were more suited to her.”

Sarah agrees. “My mom put me on a Little League softball team for a season, but I remember not liking it,” she says. “It wasn’t for me. But I remember having fun when I started to play golf. It just felt right. Golf is a great sport!”

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