Madison McCall

Freshman golfer Gina Brannon is optimistic about her future in golf after making her first hole-in-one during a practice round at the ASC Championship Tournament. 

Brannon was 150 yards out from the hole and could not see where the ball landed when everyone around her started cheering. 

“I had no idea it went in,” she said. “Everyone just started shouting and jumping.”

Brannon started golfing after her dad encouraged her to get active at a young age. She started developing her skills in the First Tee program, which offers instruction to young students and makes the reality of golfing on a budget possible. As she got older, her passion for the sport grew.

Brannon continued to golf through her local high school golf team. The golf program consisted of Brannon and two male athletes during her first year playing in the high school program. Brannon had a positive transition into the program due to the relationships she had established with the two other athletes who also participated in the First Tee program at a younger age.

After being admitted to UTD, Brannon was recruited by women’s golf coach Ed Bull when she expressed interest in golfing at the collegiate level. 

“We went out to watch her play and made sure she was a good fit for the team,” Bull said. “She wanted to play and is a very gifted golfer.” 

The women’s golf team consists of three freshmen, one sophomore and a junior. The small size of the team has created a great environment for camaraderie, Brannon said, despite the focus on individual performance in golf. 

Brannon has become an outgoing member of the team. Her charisma and enthusiasm for the game have left an impression on her teammates. 

“I have to have her next to me,” said freshman golfer Jessica Ritchie. “She helps me get enthusiastic and helps me with my game. She is always my moral support.”

Other teammates have also been inspired by Brannon’s optimistic personality on the golf course. She offers support to all of her teammates even if that means she has to run across the course. 

“That’s the thing that I am the most proud of,” Brannon said.  “They told me ‘Every time I see you, I do a lot better.’”

Brannon also volunteers at the First Tee program and works closely with young girls who aspire to keep golf in their life just as Brannon has. She said she hopes that she can embolden more young women to get involved in golf and encourages the girls in the program to stick with the sport throughout high school and college. 

Although Brannon receives the credit of motivator, she gains inspiration in return. 

“This tournament, I’ve really realized that having them with me really helps,” she said. “They give me motivation.”

Although Brannon does not want to go professional, she hopes to keep golf in her life for years to come.