By Danny C. Davis
Clinton High School senior Maddie McNeese never picked up a golf club until she was thirteen years old.
She started playing with family members and found that she really liked the game of golf.
Her brother Chad was on the Clinton High School boys golf team at the time. One day, Chad mentioned to Clinton High School boys’ and girls’ head golf coach Clay Norton that he should take a look at his sister Maddie’s golf swing. Norton agreed to.
It didn’t take long for Norton to recognize the young golfer’s talent.
“I found Maddie,” said Norton. “I saw her hit two shots, and we put her on the girls team.”
That was in February. Just two weeks later, McNeese was playing in her first CHS golf tournament, the first of many great golf tournaments to come. She had also played on the Lady
Arrow volleyball team, but, after a season of golf, she decided to only concentrate on playing golf.
That turned out to be a great choice for McNeese and the CHS girls golf team.
That was almost four years ago, and now MCNeese has become the first Lady Arrow golfer to earn a four-year golf scholarship.
McNeese was invited to visit Erskine College in South Carolina to play a round of golf. After the golf outing, McNeese was offered a four-year college golf scholarship on the spot.
“I really had a good visit there, and they have a great golf program there,” said McNeese. “It is a beautiful campus. I plan to major in sports management.”
Norton had plenty of praise for his star golf player.
“Maddie is just a natural talented golf player, but she works so hard,” said Norton. “She has done more for the girls’ golf program at Clinton High school than anybody has ever done. She has made it cool for girls to play golf at CHS. She has such a hard working practice model.”
A typical day is for McNeese to go play a round of golf at 6 a.m., before school, and then play again in the afternoon.
“Maddie is just in love with the game of golf,” said Norton. “She is always a number one seed when she is playing in a high school tournament.”
“She can really hit a golf ball a long way,” Norton continued. “Her strength is her mental approach to the game of golf. She is just a free swinging golfer, and a bad shot does not affect her at all.”
McNeese also enjoys working with both the CHS boys’ and girls’ golf teams to try help those players improve and play better golf.
“She is always very interested in helping the guys and the girls on the golf team to learn to hit better shots,” said Norton.
McNeese earned the MHSAA district top golf medal in tournament competition in 2022 by shooting the lowest score of 73. This fall, she shot a low score of 73 once again.
She has also played on the girls’ Junior Golf Circuit in the Southeast for High School golfers and plays golf year-round.
“We are so proud for Maddie and how she worked so hard to earn a scholarship at the next level,” said Norton. “It is a lot of fun to coach kids like Maddie that really like what they do and are really very good at what they do.”