Golf POY -- Aycock's Forbis is diamond in the rough on links
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on November 24, 2005 1:54 PM
Former Charles B. Aycock girls golf coach Gary Hales knew he had a diamond in the rough ... well ... on the links the first time Kelli Forbis swung a golf club.
As a freshman, Forbis admittedly didn't know much about the game that's slowly gaining popularity among high school girls. But she absorbed countless hours of instruction from Jack Snyder at Walnut Creek Country Club and applied that knowledge while playing on her home course -- Lane Tree.
Forbis chipped and putted, and learned the nuances surrounding each green. She mastered hitting from the bunkers and steadily improved on the driving range.
But, strangely enough, Forbis didn't think she'd stick with a sport that demands concentration and practice -- until midway through her freshman year.
"That's when I realized I could go somewhere with this," said Forbis.
Since then, Forbis been polishing her game and has emerged as one of the state's top golfers. She turned in three sub-30 rounds during Class 3-A Eastern Carolina Conference play and averaged 40.4 strokes per nine holes during five regular-season meets.
The Golden Falcons fashioned a 19-1 record in ECC match play and collected the program's second regular-season crown in the last three years. The trio of Forbis, Brooke Newell and Emily Stewart followed that up by winning the ECC tournament.
Forbis fired a 76 in the tournament and claimed ECC player of the year honors. She recorded a 10th-place finish at the eastern regionals and concluded the year with a 23rd-place effort in the N.C. High School Athletic Association 1-A/2-A/3-A Championship meet.
Now Forbis can add another accolade to that fast-growing and impressive resume. The Aycock junior is the 2005 News-Argus Girls Golf Athlete of the Year.
"I came in not knowing much about the girls at all, but I had heard what a great golfer Kelli was from Coach Hales," said first-year Aycock coach Meghan Fields. "It's great to have a player like Kelli on your team. She is always on time and stays late, even when we're done with practice. She'll walk another nine holes, chip or putt.
"She gives 110 percent every time she is on the golf course. You never have to push her."
Forbis certainly pushes herself.
Each day she works on 30-yard shots to the bunker and hits out onto the green. She'll spend an hour putting and chipping. Then she'll walk over to the range and work on some other drills.
Forbis stands just 4-foot-11, so it's important for her to play smart and aggressive on the greens. She averages about 190 yards on her tee shot and that's improved since she's participated in a weight training class this semester.
"She's so tiny, she makes up for being small with her 'inside game'," said Fields. "Her drive is short, but her game around the green is phenomenal. Her consistency is probably her best asset."
Forbis shot a season-low 37 in the first ECC meet at Southern Wayne Country Club. She hovered around the 30s the next couple of matches, but then crept into the 40s when she changed her swing through midseason.
The slight variation affected her play for one or two meets, but she quickly adjusted and returned to her consistent ways. Forbis earned runner-up honors at the Cubbie's Invitational in Wilson and she captured the Lane Tree Club Championship a few days before the eastern regional meet.
The "short game" helped Forbis in each match.
"That's something you can't change ... something you have to work on and get better," said Forbis, who is now coached by Parker King at Lane Tree. "I don't have to think about it so much on the course because of my practicing. I'm more confident.
"I just went out there to play and I didn't expect anything. I just want to work on getting a scholarship right now."
Forbis' future, like a diamond, will only get brighter.
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