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Gabriella Albert calls her ascent in golf from worst to first life-changing.
Albert, 15, who lives in Delray Beach’s Mizner Country Club where she is also a member, was recently named the South Florida PGA Junior Tour Player of the Year.
“A couple of years ago, I could never have imagined winning or even wanting to be the best,” Albert said. “Last year, being able to win two or three events really showed me that it is possible and that hard work pays off and if you put your mind to it, it could happen.”
In earning her title, Albert competed in 14 Jr. PGA Tour events in which she won three events, and finished in the top five 11 times, including five runner-up finishes.
The SFPGA consists of both league and major tournaments throughout Florida throughout the year.
A total of 54 girls played in the championship tournament tour season, each vying for player of the year. The Championship Tour is the highest skill level of the SFPGA tours.
Albert said a couple of years ago her game was “at the bottom of the leaderboard.”
“To get to the top [of the leaderboard], it took the desire to want to win every time,” she said. “Probably a year ago, I was not very consistent, so a big part of my game the last seven or eight months, I made that my goal. I was able to have so many rounds that were so similar my [Junior Golf scoreboard] ranking dropped 1,000 points from 1,400 to 466, which was a big deal for me.”
An improvement in her mental game, along with practicing and improving her swing, helped her climb the rankings.
“I think making my swing more repeatable was also a big part of it,” Albert said, “but I think that and course management and how I look at courses, the tournaments and preparation really made a difference.”
It also carried over to her play in high school where she has been a member of the varsity team since middle school.
This past fall, Albert, a freshman at St. Andrew’s School in Boca Raton, had an 18-hole scoring average of 72.7 and 34.4 (9 holes). She also carded a low round of 69 at the FHSAA Class 1A state tourney and finished 16th with a 147 to help the Scots to a fourth-place team finish.
“I didn’t play great the first day but played really well the second,” Albert said of her round at state. “That was a big deal for me. I hadn’t played well on that course, and the last day I was able to conquer it.”
Albert also shot a 71 at districts and a 76 at the regional competition. She’s been a significant contributor and standout on the Scots’ varsity girls golf team since the seventh grade.
“Being player of the year and beating girls that I was losing to years ago really opened up my mind that you can do it,” she said. “It is just hard work, dedication and commitment.”
The journey from “the bottom to the top” is relatable to the relationship she has with her 14-year-old sister Morgan, who has activity-dependent neuroprotective protein syndrome. It is a rare condition, which is diagnosed in children exhibiting signs of autism. Less than 500 people in the world have it.
“She and I through golf have really been able to bond,” Albert said. “Our relationship on the golf course is really, really strong now. I have always really been close with her but having her on the golf course with me and watching me at tournaments is a whole other feeling. Getting serious in golf was a really big deal for her and me. It is the one way that I can really feel like she wants to be there and she talks to me. It isn’t verbal, but I can tell she is happy. There is so much love and support. I love seeing her smile.”
Albert’s golfing career began when she was 5 and her father took her to the driving range. She liked it and he enrolled her in the Sunday Junior golf clinics at Mizner Country Club where they live, and she practices or plays daily.
“The feeling of being on a golf course is indescribable,” Albert said. “It is such a rush, the feeling of being so proud when you play well.”
One of those feelings came during the 2021 season when Albert picked up her first career hole-in-one on the Osprey Point Golf Course. She used a 7-iron on the Par-3, 142-yard 7th hole on Nov. 27, 2021.
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“I thought, ‘oh, my God, there’s no way,’” Albert said. “I never thought that would happen. There was a sense of shock, relief and happiness. It bounced, hit the pin, and then twirled into the cup.”
She wants to go as far as she can in the sport.
“I want to be the best in the world,” Albert said. “The desire to be No. 1 is what I strive for now. Winning is a feeling that is so different than anything else. To be able to win in golf is so different than in any other sport. It is your hard work and what you have done.”
She is a fan of Mizner’s Director of Golf Dennis Rye, who has watched Albert’s skills grow.
“I have witnessed Gabriella from her early beginnings to where she is today,” Rye said. “She has blossomed into an extremely strong competitor over the last couple of years by dedicating herself to becoming better with each tournament under her belt.
“Over the last two years, she has really turned the corner and gained tremendous strides in her ability to play tournament golf and perform under pressure,” he said. “She has learned what it takes to win. It is nice to see that her consistent tournament play has been rewarded by being named the Girls 2021 South Florida PGA Jr. Tour player of the year. It is a tremendous accomplishment by one of our very own and is so deserving.”