Originally aired on WTVD-TV – April 5, 2018
At 8 years old, Pikeville native Ella June Hannant can mark something off her list most golf lovers could only dream of.
“I went to Augusta National and got to have a banquet there and after that, they had a small little party for everyone who came, and I came home on Tuesday after I got to watch a practice round of the pros which is really an awesome week,” Ella explained.
Ella took home the title for her age group in the Drive, Chip & Putt National Finals on Sunday at the exclusive Augusta National Golf Club. The youth development program started in 2014 and tees off the Masters tournament week.
“It’s really crazy and awesome,” Ella said. “I was really excited to be there because I know so many people want to be there!”
Along with the win, Ella got to meet many golf professionals and past Masters champions. Her favorite golfer, Jack Nicklaus, even called her before and after the competition.
“He said go out and win your age group,” Ella explained. Ella’s coach is PGA member Clarence Rose, who she thanked after winning.
Her grandfather introduced her and her sisters to the game.
She started competing at age 5 and now participates in the men’s league at her home course, Lane Tree Golf Club in Goldsboro.
“I’m probably the second best here other than my grandpa,” Ella said with a smile.
Today, all three Hannant sisters, 6-year-old Zada, and 12-year-old Karsyn also love golf and all three have qualified for the world championship.
“They really support each other,” mom Regan Hannant said. “They are each others competitor but also best supporters, so that’s very nice,” she said.
Regan Hannant says Ella is able to spend the majority of her week golfing because she attends a charter school at NC Virtual Academy.
Ella is also an accomplished javelin thrower in the state; she says it helps her golf game.
She’s won several triathlons and does karate, tumbling and loves to play gin and poker, shoot pool, and disk throwing, even though she can’t do it competitively until she is 12 years old.
But, golf is Ella’s main focus and it’s no surprise what her goal is in just a few years.
“I want to be on the LPGA golf tour, probably around 16,” Ella said.
To learn more about North Carolina Virtual Academy, visit http://ncva.k12.com/.