Last updated: July 20. 2014 2:07PM - 1605 Views
By Jim Fuller jfuller@civitasmedia.com

Elkin graduate Mary-Frances Hall, left, holds a Washington and Lee University banner with her mother, Jennifer; her brother, Harrison; and her father, Johnny.
Elkin graduate Mary-Frances Hall, left, holds a Washington and Lee University banner with her mother, Jennifer; her brother, Harrison; and her father, Johnny.
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Elkin graduate Mary-Frances Hall is going to take her golf clubs and her study habits to Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia, this fall.

Hall, who ranked No. 1 in her class academically, said he loves the feel of the 265-year-old school. “It’s very old; very small; and everything’s very historic,” she said. “It’s known for its great academics.

“It’s going to be awesome.”

Hall considered Dartmouth College, William and Mary University, Georgetown University and was courted by East Carolina University before choosing Washington and Lee. She declined, but she also was accepted into the University of North Carolina.

She’ll study biology with an eye on medical school and a career as a radiologist.

And while her long-term goals are somewhat firm in her mind, it’s golf that has been and will probably always remain a passion.

Hall loves the game. That’s a good thing because all of her family loves golf.

“I’ve always played golf,” she said. “It’s something I can do with family. They all play golf.”

Her brother, Harrison, is a rising sophomore who played on the Elkin High team this past spring. Her parents, Johnny and Jennifer, play; her uncles, Mike Hall and Tony Hall, play; and her grandfather, John “Poppy” Hall Sr., plays. Her talent and her love of the game also was passed down from another grandfather — Lee Roy Hayes.

Johnny, a former Class A PGA professional at Tanglewood Park, “had a golf club or a putter in her hand” before she could even walk, she wrote in her notes recently.

She is ranked 15th in the North Carolina Junior Girls’ rankings. She has played competitively since she was 10 with U.S. Kids, Carolinas Golf Association, and the Peggy Kirk Bell Girls Tour.

Hall also has played golf for Elkin for four years under Head Coach Sena Hinson and assistant coach Jackie St. Louis. Hall said Zim Zimmerman, the golf professional at Cedarbrook Country Club, has “always been my golf pro.”

“He’s always been there to help,” her mother said.

During her high school career, Hall was a four-time All-Mountain Valley Athletic Conference (MVAC) selection; an MVAC Player of the Year; finished fourth in the state her sophomore and junior seasons; finished second in the state her senior season; and won the regional tournament as a junior.

She also finished fourth at the Twin State Junior Girls Championship in 2013; was a medalist and quarterfinalist at the North Carolina Junior Girls Championship in 2014; was named to the North Carolina team at the Carolinas-Georgia matches; and was named to the North Carolina Junior All-State golf team in 2011 and 2013.

“Mary-Frances is a very hard-working individual,” Zimmerman said. “No matter what kind of tasks she confronts — schoolwork, family, friends, her golf game, she is dedicated and gives 100 percent to all.”

Zimmerman said her work habits have been an asset as she has worked at the game of golf. “She improves week by week,” he said. “She is willing to make improvements to be a better golfer. She is a very good student of the game.

“She’s just worked so hard to be a good player.”

Hall is coached by PGA professional Ron Philo, who she said has played an “integral” role in her golf career.

She said she is excited about playing for Head Coach Pete Gyscek at Washington and Lee. Gyscek, a noted men’s golf coach at Washington and Lee and before that at William and Mary, began a women’s program a few years ago. That team is flourishing as well.

“He’s bringing in a lot of girls,” Hall said. “I’m excited to see the golf team grow.”

Zimmerman said he does not expect her to confine her success to the golf course. “She has bright future in golf,” he said. “And she has a bright future in whatever she decides to do after her college life.

“She sets goals and she has success at whatever she undertakes.”

He said it is more than golf and academics defining Hall. “She is a very sweet person,” Zimmerman said. “She is very kind-hearted. She leads her life by making good decisions.

“She’s just an outstanding young adult.”

Washington and Lee, named for George Washington and Robert E. Lee, is a school of about 2,000 undergraduate students. It is located just under three hours north-northeast of Elkin and just north and east Roanoke. The school nickname, fittingly enough, is the Generals.

“Washington and Lee is extremely lucky to be getting a young lady, a student, and a golfer of her caliber,” Zimmerman said.

Jim Fuller may be reached at 336-835-1513 or Twitter @elkinareasports.

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