Young Coral Springs golfer aims for fame

One in one million.

That was the chance that Amelia Novoa, a 10-year-old golfer from Coral Springs, had of making the shot, according to many national golfing professionals.

“I had to up my game,” she said. “I lined up to the ball, thought through my process, swung it … and thought, ‘Wow, this is a good shot.'”

It never left the hole once it landed. Amelia had just shot, and made, three strikes under par on a single hole. Also known as an albatross, or double eagle, this shot is extremely hard to pull off, according to the PGA, and only a handful of professional golfers have ever done so. Amelia hit hers from 115 yards out.

“At first I didn’t know it went in the hole, but my dad was jumping up and down and screaming, so I knew it went in,” Amilia said.

Her dad, Victor Novoa of Coral Springs, didn’t dispute the depiction.

“It was a very good experience for her,” said Victor Novoa, a former golf professional. “She learned something very important that day.”

Amelia walked away with a first-place win at the Sandpiper Bay Golf Club at Club Med in Stuart in on Feb. 15, but only after beating out the competition with her albatross shot on the par 5 hole 9.

“I was really excited,” Amelia said. “I dropped my club and threw my hands up. I couldn’t even say anything.”

Amelia’s father was also her first golf coach. When she was just four years old, she would ride around on the golf cart with Victor and his friends, playing in the sand traps and napping on the golf cart. He knew from the time she was tiny that she was a natural.

“It’s not just because my daughter,” Victor Novoa explained. “But when I saw her swing at four years old … I think she’s one of the stars of this city. She’s working hard. We’re really proud of her.”

So far, Amelia has competed in dozens of golf tournaments, both in South Florida and all over the state. She’s been golfing competitively since she was eight, when her parents decided to enlist the help of private golf coach John Nelson, a Hall of Fame pro golfer.

“I’ve coached a lot of high-level athletes,” he said. “Amelia’s natural ability, passion, and willingness to learn make her stand out.”

Amelia’s practice regimen includes almost daily outings to the Eagle Trace golf course in Coral Springs. Her grandfather, Stephen Moldt, says patrons of the club treat Amelia like family.

“All the guys say, ‘Wow, I would kill to have a swing like that,'” Moldt said.

This summer, Amelia will be one of about 1,200 kids who participate in the invite-only U.S. Kids World Golf Championship in Pinehurst, NC. Amelia plays in the 10 and 11 age range, on a golf course that ranges anywhere from 4,000 to 4,200 yards for 18 holes.

She’s “more well-rounded” than kids her age, said Kevin Battersby, a PGA Class A member golf professional in Coconut Creek who has watched Amelia play since she was 5. “It’s her attitude that’s going to carry her on to greatness. I think she’s really just scratching the surface of where she is going to go.”

After practice, Amelia goes home, showers, eats dinner with her family, just like most 10-year-olds. She hangs out with friends and has an active social life, her mother says, but she’s also serious about school. She gets honor-roll grades and enjoys math class and PE.

“As a mom, it can be a delicate balance to make sure she still has fun,” Kristi Novoa said. Kristi Novoa takes Amelia to and from golf practice each day, while balancing a job and caring for her other two children. But she says it’s worth it to watch her daughter play the sport she loves.

“My family members all come to her games to support her,” Kristi said. “On Facebook, she’s like our family mascot – everyone’s so proud of her.”

“I really believe she’ll be an LPGA tour winner,” said Nelson, who has also coached LPGA tournament winner Lexi Thompson, another Coral Springs native. “I’ve been around the best. I know what it takes to be successful, and Amelia has those skills.”

Copyright © 2015, Sun Sentinel

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