Sophomore golfer heads to college-level tournament


Faye Moore

Sophomore Haili Moore prepares for her golf tournament. She competed in the Florida Harder Hall tournament, Jan. 9-12. “I think the most important thing my coaches have helped me with in preparation for these tournaments is just to go out and play golf,” Moore said. “Control what you can control and let the scores come.”

Sophomore Haili Moore is approaching this tournament just like it’s any other. But, her nerves remind her that it’s one of the biggest competitions of her high school golf career – so far.

In her second year of high school, Moore was selected by the First Tee of North Florida to compete Jan. 13-19 in the South Atlantic Women’s Amateur Championship (SALLY).

“I was extremely excited and honored when I first heard news that I was selected to take part in the SALLY because it is such a prestigious event,” Moore said. “Plus, I get to learn from college players who have been where I am before in their golf careers.” 

The first tournament was in 1926, and golfers like Babe Zaharias and Patty Berg have competed.

 “The South Atlantic Women’s Amateur Championship, otherwise known as the ‘SALLY,’ is an amateur event I will be competing in,” sophomore Haili Moore said. “It is a seven-day event with past champions including Babe Zaharias, my first idol in golf.”

According to Moore’s coach, she can expect to see steep competition this week.

“The SALLY is one of the top amateur tournaments in the nation,” coach Ryan Salinas said. “It’s a lot of college players, so you have to be one of the top amateurs to play with them, for a high schooler to be playing in the SALLY is a huge honor, even just to be invited.”

Moore said the first event she participated in showcased the next 100 junior elite players in the country.

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It’s an unbelievable opportunity for her to be able to go and play. She’s playing in the Harder Hall right now, so she’s got three tournaments she’s playing in before the SALLY, and she’s already getting a good taste of what the golf is going to be like.

— Ryan Salinas, Haili Moore's coach

“It’s an unbelievable opportunity for her to be able to go and play,” Salinas said. “She’s playing in the Harder Hall right now, so she’s got three tournaments she’s playing in before the SALLY, and she’s already getting a good taste of what the golf is going to be like.”

The Harder Hall Women’s Invitational took place Jan. 9-12.

“The most recent tournament I played in was an amateur event called Harder Hall in Sebring, Florida,” Moore said. “This was the 64th year the tournament has been put on, and is one of the most coveted because some founding members of the LPGA played in it at some point during their careers.”

The Ladies Professional Golf Association was founded in 1968, and is headquartered in Dayton Beach, Florida, where most competitions are held.

“Haili is doing an amazing job of leading by example. We want our kids out there playing against the top-notch because it represents Prosper. It represents what we stand for, and what we want our program to become,” Salinas said. “We’re preaching to kids ‘get out there, play outside tournaments,’ and Haili has always done a fantastic job of that.”

Sophomore Noah Blocher is Moore’s caddy for the SALLY competition.

“Last year, she was a freshman, and she went all the way to state championships on her own, individually,” Blocher said. “She plays like a senior or a college golfer, and coaches have watched her already for her first two days in tournaments.”

Blocher said his time at the college-level tournaments will benefit him through experience.

“I remember her sending me a message saying she got in. I’ve caddied for her on a prior occasion, and I said as like a joke ‘you may need a caddy,’ and she was like ‘no, seriously please,’” Blocher said. “They’ve said I’m a good caddy, and she’s had other caddies that haven’t been consistent with her.”

Moore said she believes her mindset going into a tournament is all about knowing that she has put in the work to be successful.

“It’s just a huge honor for her to be able to pursue her college dream of playing Division I golf,” Salinas said. “All of these tournaments are a way for college coaches to see because they’re playing college courses and college yardages.”

Most of the competitors are college students, but Moore is one of the few high schoolers to participate.

“It’s a very prestigious event to get into and not everyone will get in,” Blocher said. “When you’re chosen, you know that you could have golf as a career path, and I think that’s what she could do.”

Other LPGA centers are around the world, but the Florida location is one of the most well-known.

“The experience is only going to make her better going forward,” Salinas said. “She’s only a sophomore, so her best golf is still ahead of her, which is scary as a coach because she’s got a lot of things that she has worked on and continued to work on.”

Salinas said Moore has earned everything she has gotten, and he knows she puts in a lot of work on her own.

“I’m approaching this event like any other,” Moore said. “Sure, there are nerves, but I try to remind myself that I’m just playing golf, the sport I love.”