Bethany 16-year-old is top JPGA golfer
At 16, Bethany Beach resident Christina Vosters is already defying odds and demonstrating athletic excellence. She has registered her performance in an array of contact sports at Worchester Preparatory School in Berlin, Md., and tallied undefeated seasons on the tennis team, but it’s her passion on the links that has recently helped her ascend to the top. This past Wednesday, Vosters secured the Junior PGA National Championship title at the Ranch Golf Club in Southwick, Mass., with a combined three-round score of 228, finishing with a three-stroke lead.
The Junior PGA competition saw 24 girls, hailing from Italy, the Virgin Islands and across the U.S. — undoubtedly the best in the game at their age — and the rocky terrain was rooted with plenty of surprises for the players.
“The course was really tricky,” said Vosters. “It was a mountain course, and the greens were tough. It wasn’t what I was used to, but it was definitely a positive experience.”
Vosters has taken lessons at Bear Trap Dunes and played on a selection of area courses, including the Bay Club and the Worchester Prep’s Ocean City course. But despite testing her skill on a new course, she managed to eagle two holes on Wednesday to seal to victory over a competitor from Connecticut who trailed only two strokes by the end of the second round. Powerful 320-yard drives propped up her on-in-two approaches for a comfortable putt into the cup.
“The competition out there was impressive,” Vosters said. “When you are that passionate, you know the areas you can improve on the next day. One round might be a rough one, but if you’re determined you can improve tomorrow. In this case, the pressure was on. We were neck-and-neck most rounds. I was only ahead by two by the third day, and it really forced me to play my best. That’s the best kind of competition.”
Vosters is no stranger to competition, especially as her swing has improved in the past few years. She finished in second place in the Delaware State Junior Tournament last July and first in this past September’s Philadelphia Junior PGA. Last year, she ranked third in the International Junior Golf Tour (IJGT) in the under-16 category and finished with par at Pinehurst in last year’s North-South Invitational, for ninth place. She was the region’s conference player of the year.
“Golfing has been a great experience for me,” Vosters added. “I’ve worked hard at it. I’m determined and I set goals. I try not to get distracted. You’re going to have your good and bad days, and there’s always something to learn from every round.”
Vosters’ late grandfather was an avid golfer, though the two never had the opportunity to play together.
“I never had chance to meet my grandfather,” she said, “but I think I got my golf genes from him. I knew at an early age that I wanted to pursue golf on a national level. Golf forces you to have a metal toughness. It’s difficult because every course is different — different breaks, different lies, one or two more bunkers than the last. You can hit all the balls in same spot, but the next day they may not roll into the cup. All you have to do is learn to believe in yourself; just see a challenge and achieve it.”
Over the past decade, golf has been catching on among the younger generations like wildfire.
“It’s a difficult sport,” said Vosters. “You just have to put time into it, practice and believe in yourself. It’s a great character builder, too.
“Watching Tiger Woods play in the last U.S. Open with his knee injury — it was just an incredible performance,” she said. “You can really get a big rush of adrenaline when you’re out there, and you know, if you really want something, even if you’re really tired and you think you can’t make that last putt, you will if it’s in you.”
Her parents, both active tennis players, said they couldn’t be more proud of her drive and discipline in the course.
“What these kids are doing out there is unbelievable,” said her mother, Lee Vosters. “They get to go play on these sensational courses against tough competition.”
During the tournament, golfers had no access to carts or caddies, and they are not coached when competing.
“It can be tough, but it’s always amazing to watch them,” Lee Vosters added, noting that her daughter took to golf like a duck to water. “She tried it and kept pursuing,” she said. “She doesn’t get frustrated out there. She’s calm and focused.”
By her seventh-grade year, Vosters had made the team at Worchester Prep among a roster full of boys. Being a fall sport in Maryland schools, golf allowed Vosters to perfect both her club and racquet swinging through the seasons.
“I just want to do the best I can. I’d love to pursue golf in college, but I don’t want to say anything too soon,” said Vosters, who will graduate from Worchester Prep in another two years. “Time will tell. I’m performing to the best of my ability, and I’m really lucky to be out there on the course. I’m just glad to be taking advantage of what’s out there for me.”