The 17-year-old has garnered interest from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Flagler College and the Savannah College of Art and Design.
Olivia Whitten was sitting at home with nothing to do when her grandfather asked if she wanted to go to the golf course with him.
The 12-year-old had never so much as swung a club before, but she decided to tag along. And after getting her first taste of sending little, white balls flying down a range, she was instantly hooked.
“My grandfather was the only one in my family who played golf [at the time],” Whitten said. “That’s just how it started.”
Five years later, Whitten, now a senior at Flagler Palm Coast High School and the pride and joy of the Bulldogs’ girls golf team, has a chance to compete on the links at the next level: in college.
The 17-year-old lefty has garnered interest from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Flagler College in St. Augustine and the Savannah College of Art and Design. And although she has yet to receive a formal scholarship offer, Whitten has been in close contact with coaches from all three schools.
The ability to play the game she loves for a college team is something she has dreamed about ever since her grandfather lugged her to the course for the first time.
“I want to be able to play with people who are going to be just as competitive as I am,” Whitten said. “I want to be able to get better. And I think being on a team like that and exploring a college, it’s going to be a lot different [than high school].”
Whitten practices almost every day, crafting her short game, putting and ball striking for hours on end at either Grand Reserve in Bunnell or LPGA International in Daytona Beach. A typical practice day starts almost right after school lets out and ends when the sun sinks below the horizon.
When Whitten is not practicing, she’s competing in a tournament. Whitten plays in junior golf tournaments all over Florida that span across four different tours, including the North Florida Junior Golf Tour, the Hurricane Tour, the Florida Junior Tour and the AJGA Tour.
The amount of time and money she’s put into her game is helping her inch ever closer to her dream of playing in college.
“I love the fact that I can depend on myself, and I love cheering on my team,” Whitten said. “It’s taken not only a lot of physical work, but a lot of mental work, too.”