Sophia Burnett started playing golf at age 3 and played in her first tournament at age 10. You could say that she has been playing golf all her life.

Sophia moved to Bluffton five years ago with her mom, dad, and sister. They have been instrumental in her success as a golfer and a student.

Sophia’s dad, Jonathan, was a college golf coach and Sophia spent many days at his practices in her stroller. He was her first golf teacher.

Her mom, Jimena, a local physician, taught her discipline and goal setting. “Mom always told me you have to work hard to get where you want to go,” Sophia said.

Sophia’s sister Camila is her best friend and they compete on the golf course all the time. “Our favorite game is pull back,” Sophia said, “where you have to bring the ball back a putter length each time you putt until you putt out.”

A senior at Hilton Head Preparatory School, Sophia’s favorite subjects are history and English, and she plans on majoring in political science in college.

Sophia recently won her state high school golf tournament, shooting 65, 69.

Sophia started looking at colleges during her sophomore year in high school and visited six schools until she decided on Furman University in Greenville, SC. She officially signed with the school Nov. 13 at Hilton Head Prep, according to her father.

Sophia said she was looking for four things in a college:

• High academics and a major in political science

• Strong golf program

• Great golf course and practice facilities close to campus

• Close to home, since she is very family oriented

Furman had all the above and it also has a great female alumni that have been successful on the LPGA tour. Beth Daniel, Betsy King, Dottie Pepper and Sherri Turner all attended Furman and have won 87 tournaments on the LPGA tour.

Furman will be playing in the Darius Rucker Tournament in Hilton Head on March 6-8, and Sophia will be rooting them on.

Sophia loves to compete and will be playing a number of tournaments before she plays for the Paladins. “I love playing tournaments because practice is not competitive enough for me,” she said.

Spectators can watch her play in February at the Junior Heritage at Sea Pines. This tournament has had future LPGA players such as Paula Creamer, Brittany Lang and Lexi Thompson.

The Lowcountry is a great place for young golfers to hone their golf skills. I am sure that we will be looking at Camila Burnett in two years, following in her sister’s footsteps and signing with the school of her choice.

Dr. Jean Harris is an LPGA Master Professional and teaches at local courses.;