MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - At only 17 years old, St. Agnes Academy’s Rachel Heck, is already one of the most accomplished junior golfers in the nation.
Her resume includes three-straight state championships, three-time Tennessee golfer of the year honors, four-time Rolex All-American honors and the 2017 Rolex Junior Player of the Year award. Not to mention, Heck sank a putt to give the United States its sixth-straight Junior Ryder Cup win last summer.
Heck’s golf journey started with ice cream.
“When we were little my dad didn’t want us to do ballet or anything like that, because he didn’t want to sit through recitals,” Rachel said. "So he told my mom, ‘I’m going to make them like golf.’”
Rachel’s mom, Stacy, was a bit skeptical about her husband’s plan to make their daughters play golf.
“I said, you can’t make them like golf. They’re little girls they might not like golf,'” Stacy Heck said. "He was like, ‘if we make it fun they’re going to like it.’”
With the goal of getting his three daughters to play golf, Robert Heck took his girls to the links everyday after work.
"We’d play silly little games like, hit the ball thirty yards. If we won the game then we got ice cream,' Rachel said. "So, to me, golf meant ice cream. Everyday I was excited. I was like, ‘let’s go play golf.’”
That’s how Rachel, her oldest sister, Abby and youngest sister, Anna, learned to love the game.
Abby plays golf at Notre Dame, and Rachel committed to Stanford during his freshman year of high school.
At just 15-years old, Rachel made her first major debut at the 72nd US Open, and not only did she compete against the best golfers in the world, but she also made the weekend cut.
“I had no idea what to expect," Rachel said. "These were the girls I’d watched since I was little on TV growing up, and I was so scared. I was just starstruck.”
But, Rachel’s most memorable moment was sinking the putt to win the Junior Ryder Cup, a moment she was fully prepared for.
“That’s the kind of moment every athlete dreams about," Rachel said. "When I’m out here practicing all summer over putts that don’t mean anything, when I’m practicing I’m like, ‘OK, this is to win. The whole team is standing there.’ I’ve pictured that scenario in my head I don’t even know how many times.”
“She came off from sinking that putt, and she was shaking,” Stacy said. "She didn’t stop for the longest time.”
Rachel will play in her third major next month, as an amateur, at the LPGA ANA Inspiration in California.
“It’s insane. I never thought I would be playing my third major at this point,' Rachel said. "I told my parents like, ‘hey, I hope before I’m pro I get to play in a professional tournament,’ but I didn’t think I’d play in my third. I’m just so grateful.”
While golf is Rachel’s first love, she’s still a kid, and has other things on her mind as well.
“Prom, just normal stuff," Rachel said. "I go out with my friends like all the time. I go to normal high school. Normal stuff.”