challis golf- Kelli Ann Strand

Kelli Ann Strand

Sad as it may sound, Kelli Ann Strand has an on-again, off-again relationship with her 6-iron.

Not like the rest of us, mind you.

The rest of us golfing types tend to flush that 6 on Friday, and then shank it Sunday. On-again, off-again.

Strand’s 6-iron relationship is less complicated.

The Challis junior plays the forward tees during the high school season, and follows that with a summer schedule that often pushes her back to the white tees, and even the tips.

That means mostly wedge approach shots during the spring, and more numbered clubs during the summer. On-again, off-again.

But make no mistake. Strand’s 6-iron is on. Whether buried in the bottom of the bag during the spring, or up top during the summer, that 6-iron is on like Donkey Kong.

And based on results, so is every other stick in her bag,

Strand has been in a class by herself in 2021, earning her second Post Register All-Area Girls Golfer of the Year honor.

“It’s a huge difference, the high school season and the summer,” Strand said. “It’s tougher, but it’s nice sometimes to have that extra distance to play with.”

Strand again dominated the field in the 2A state championship, carding a 9-under 66-69–135 at Circling Raven Golf Club to win the title by 25 strokes.

And if there was any question what would have happened if there were an all-classification championship, Strand settled that debate — twice.

Strand qualified for the Junior World Championships at the IMG Junior World Qualifier, carding an even par 69-75–144 at Canyon Springs in Twin Falls — beating state 5A medalist Emily Caldwell (Boise) by four, 4A medalist Margaret Smock (Bishop Kelly) by 31, and 3A individual champ Reece Garey (Kimberly) by 16.

One week later at the Dropping Junior Championship at BanBury in Eagle, Strand was 6-under from the white tees with a 71-67-69–207, seven strokes better than runner-up Caldwell, 41 ahead of Smock, and 54 in front of Garey.

“Everything’s just kind of been coming together,” Strand said. “I’ve gained some distance over the past two years, improved my iron game, and feel like I get a lot more (birdie) looks. Then its just about getting up-and-down and avoiding the bogeys.”

Following a go at the IGA Women’s State Amateur July 8-10 at Falcon Crest (Kuna), Strand and her 6-iron will be off to the IMG Junior World Championships in San Diego.

But as they say, you can take the golfer out of Challis, but you can’t take Challis out of the golfer.

“It’s tough during the winter sometimes, only being able to hit off a mat,” she said. “But I am really lucky to have such a great home course during the summer. They work really hard on it, and I just love it.”

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