Having the upper hand

McCullum maintains golf despite setbacks


Every Saturday morning Destynee McCullum, junior, rises out of bed at 8 a.m. to be at Van Buskirk Golf Course ready to practice by 9 with her dad.

Monday through Friday she spends her time at Elk Horn Golf Club course with her golf team from 3 to 5 p.m. ready to put in just as much work as she has done since she was 9 years old.

McCullum has three years of golf experience with First Tee, a junior golf program. They teach character-building and life skills while using golf as a gateway to express that to younger children.

“It was frustrating,” she said. “I wanted to hit far but I realized you can’t do that off bat. It takes practice and First Tee showed me that.”

With the background lessons from First Tee, McCullum has the upper hand on the course when it comes to keeping it cool and not showing too much emotion. “I’ve never lost it completely,” McCullum said. “Since I started young with First Tee, they taught me if you do go off you’ll just have a bad time golfing.”

Though golf is her first love, McCullum has participated in softball and cheerleading before transferring to Stagg from Brookside Christian. “I think there is more opportunity here than there is at Brookside,” McCullum said. “I’m really enjoying the experience to have the unity and encouragement from my teammates.”

With golf as her main priority, McCullum still gets all of her school work done and maintains a 3.8 grade-point average.

“I’m pretty disciplined when it comes to academics,” she said.

Golf may be an individual sport, but she works well with a team.

“She’s very respectful and coachable and that’s what is great about her,” Dannie Offield, head golf coach, said. “She shows potential.”

McCullums’ mother passing in 2010 brought her extremely close with her father. “We have always been close, but that’s what made us even closer,” McCullum said. “He was there for my sister and I, no matter what emotions we were going through.”

McCullums’ father has a lot to do with her passion for the sport. He is the one who engaged her into golf and has dedicated his time to practicing with her and making her a better athlete all around.

“I feel like my dad is my encouragement,” McCullum said. “He goes out on the course with me and takes time out of his day to get me where I need to go and makes sure I’m on top of my academics.”

Offield can vouch for the help that McCullum’s father has put forth.

“Her dad helps out with car rides,” Offield said. The van only carries nine and there’s 14 on the team.  “He’s been a parent that has really stepped up.”

Her dad constantly tells her, “There’s always going to be people better than you, but you can’t let that affect you.”