Golf: South Forsyth's Kelly Strickland commits to Kansas
South Forsyth's Kelly Strickland follows a shot during the 2017 GHSA State Golf Championships, where she finished tied for 10th in Class 7A. - photo by Ian Frazer

Kelly Strickland knew she wanted to play golf at a big college. She just didn’t know she’d have to go to Kansas to do it.

The South Forsyth rising senior verbally committed Sunday to the University of Kansas, a program and school that fulfilled Strickland’s goal: the Big 12 member enrolls over 28,000 students at its Lawrence, Kansas campus.

Strickland would join a Kansas program looking for a boost. The Jayhawks placed seventh out of nine teams at the Big 12 Championships this past season.

Strickland could help. She helped the War Eagles place second at the Area 3-6A championships and fourth in Class 7A at the GHSA State Golf Championships with a top-10 individual finish.

Before all that, Strickland was almost sold on committing to Kansas after taking an unofficial visit in February. She saw the campus’ golf course and it’s private indoor hitting facility for the golf program. She saw the team’s schedule for upcoming seasons to play tournaments in Arizona and New Orleans and Dallas.

But watching a men’s basketball game at Kansas’s famed Allen Fieldhouse made the biggest impression.

“My parents didn't go to big college, so that was the first thing that I got to experience of being (at a big college), and I really liked to the whole town and the atmosphere of the basketball game. It was so fun,” Strickland said.

Still, Kansas’ coaches had not seen Strickland play, so she didn’t yet have an official scholarship offer. Strickland remedied that in early June. She got accepted to play in an AJGA event on the Jayhawks’ home course, along with a few other Kansas recruits. Strickland didn’t play her best, she said, but well enough, she thought. Kansas did, too; they offered her before she left.

Strickland had manufactured all this in the first place. College golf recruiting, along with other non-revenue sports, requires initiation on the high school student’s part. Strickland began each summer by emailing coaches at colleges of all sizes, just to be safe, but hoping to produce interest from those at the biggest ones, even if they were outside of the Southeast.

Even if it’s almost 700 miles away in Lawrence, Kansas.

“It'll just be different,” Strickland said, “but I'm up for it.”