Summary: New Orleans golfing prodigy Morgan Guepet is only in fourth grade, but she excels at golf through fatherly support and a mental toughness that is well beyond her years.
Aug. 14, 2015: Jon Daly sees red after splashing his first three tee shots into Lake Michigan and helicopters his iron into the water on the seventh hole at the PGA Championship. The mental implosion drops Daly down the leaderboard and ultimately causes him to miss the cut.
Sept. 27, 1987: Ben Crenshaw breaks the shaft of his putter in an impetuous fit of rage as he walks off the sixth green during The Ryder Cup. As a result, “Gentle Ben” is forced to putt with his 1-iron the remainder of the round and Eamon Darcy defeats him on the last hole to give Europe the victory over the United States.
July 25, 1980: In the movie “Caddyshack,” Judge Smails is heckled by nouveau-riche real estate tycoon Al Czervick (played by the late Rodney Dangerfield). Smails subsequently misses his final putt and launches his flatstick in frustration, injuring another member of the Bushwood Country Club.
As history shows, golf can test the temperament of many. There’s something about the “gentlemen’s game” that often brings out the worst in its participants.
But Morgan Guepet doesn’t see anger management classes in her future. The fourth-grade wunderkind from Edward Hynes Charter School (in New Orleans) brings a calm, unflappable approach to her golf game, and it’s bringing out her very best.
Guepet won the 10-11 year-old age division at the Drive, Chip and Putt Regional Championship Sept. 13 at the Golf Club of Houston. She’ll play in the finals at Augusta National in April, and the event will be televised before The Masters on The Golf Channel.
Golf is both work and fun
Guepet’s secret to success?
“You have to practice a lot, but you also have to have fun,” she says. “Sometimes I’ll three-putt a hole, but I calm myself down. As my dad always tells me, once the club goes into the bag, you have to forget about the last shot.”
“Sometimes I’ll three-putt a hole, but I calm myself down. As my dad always tells me, once the club goes into the bag, you have to forget about the last shot.”
Guepet’s golfing career began before kindergarten when she’d accompany her father, Stephen, and his buddies on weekend golf outings. She wasn’t swinging clubs just yet, but the experience was the impetus for big things to come. “Even when she was 3 or 4, (Morgan) always loved being out there with us,” Stephen Guepet says. “One day we eventually took her out to the (driving) range and she just kind of picked it up.”
Since then, Guepet’s learning trajectory has continued to rocket into new stratospheres. In only a little more than two years, Guepet has polished her drives, iron shots and putting game so much that she regularly beats seasoned adults. This revealed itself in October when she entered an open tournament at Lakewood Country Club as the only kid and walked with the best score.
“I putted amazingly,” she recalls. “I had four natural birdies and two eagles.”
New Orleans is a golf training ground for Guepet
Earlier in the year, Guepet finished 14th out of 78 competitors at the U.S. World Kids Golf Championship at Pinehurst Country Club (N.C.). Guepet’s resume also boasts a 32 score (four-under-par) on nine holes and a par-3 hole-in-one at Tchefuncta Country Club.
“Her game is solid, all-around,” Stephen Guepet says.
Guepet sharpens her skills at the Kelly Gibson Jr. Golf Academy each summer and regularly accompanies her dad on weekend golf trips. In addition to Atchafalaya Golf Course and Lakewood Golf Club, Guepet has played virtually every golf course in the New Orleans area, including all of the Golf Crescent City partner courses.
A fatherly bond through golf
As Guepet sets her sights on this summer’s U.S. World Kids Golf Championship, she’ll continue to swing the clubs with her father and learn the virtues of patience in a sport that can sometimes drive its competitors crazy.
“Golf is kind of our deal – something we do together,” Stephen Guepet says. “Morgan really wants to do this with her life. She really wants to play in the LPGA one day.”