Lee trio looking to finish strong at Class 5A Region II golf tourney

Robert E. Lee seniors Kerbey Kipp (left) and Ellen Burton (right) pose with their coach, Shirley Chandler. Kipp and Burton begin play today in the Class 5A Region II golf tournament at Cottonwood Creek G.C. in Waco. (Shannon Wilson | Tyler Morning Telegraph)

Robert E. Lee senior Kerbey Kipp goes to school and plays golf.

That is it.

It is a routine that has turned a golfer of just three years into a champion. Kipp won four events this season and posted a third straight top 3 finish at district.

“I try to play as much as I can,” said Kipp, who will play in the Class 5A Region II girls golf tournament, beginning Wednesday at Cottonwood Creek Golf Course in Waco.

“As soon as I get out of school, I am at the golf course and I stay there until it’s almost dark. On weekends, I will play a round. I just really want to pursue this and I really want to keep getting better.”

Lee senior Ellen Burton is also at regionals. This is her fourth straight trip to Waco. She was district champion as a senior and runner-up as a sophomore and this year.

Burton, admittedly, does not practice as much as she should. And there are several reasons why.

“I am little busy; I am top five percent of my class right now and am going to NYU on an academic scholarship,” Burton said. “I am a director of (national honor society); I help out both the band and orchestra with piano as much as I can; I play at First Baptist Church; I am a member of young Democrats and am pretty passionate about that.”

Burton understands her teammate’s drive. As a junior, she was focused on winning district, posting a good score at regionals and following in former REL golfer Katelyn Sepmoree’s (now at Texas) footsteps to qualify for the state tournament.

“I was out there every day last year, but this year not so much,” Burton said. “I go out there to support the girls and lead as a captain. This is my fourth time to go (to regionals) and I just want to go shoot a good round and enjoy the day. I think it’s mostly just to have fun right now.”

Kipp only has to look across the dinner table during the holidays to see what hard work and dedication can bring. Her older sister Kelsey, a multiple district champion at Lee, is currently competing on the Symetra Professional Golf Tour after a successful collegiate career at University of Kansas City and North Texas, which culminated in her being chosen for the All-Sun Belt team as a senior.

Kerbey will continue her golf career at Tyler Junior College.

“I just got a full ride to TJC,” she said. “I am only two-and-a-half years into it and I really want to stay local and continue with golf.”

This is the final hurrah for the two Lady Raiders linksters, and the end of an era for REL girls golf. Shirley Chandler, who has coached REL golf since 2006, is retiring.

In that time, REL has won seven district titles, sent a player to regionals all eight years and in 2009, Chandler coached Sepmoree to a runner-up finish at the Class 5A state golf tournament.

Chandler said it will be tough say goodbye, but she is pleased for Burton and Kipp and expects all three will enjoy themselves at regionals.

“It’s a thrill; they are my leaders,” Chandler said. “I have great memories with past golfers like Kelsey and Katelyn. Kerbey has an impeccable work ethic and Ellen definitely has the highest academic standards.

“Our region is going to be tough, but our region is always tough. If they play their best game and they relax and play their own game, they can be contenders. I think the program has been very successful and it has been very good for me; the girls have been good for me and (wish everyone the best for the future).”

What: Class 5A Region II girls golf tournament

When: Wednesday and Thursday, Cottonwood Creek GC, Waco

Notable: The last Lee golfer to reach the state tournament was Katelyn Sepmoree in 2009. She went on to finish as state runner-up.

Recommended For You