Kenton Ridge golfer Kacey Miller is long off the tee and has a feathery touch around the greens, but her best attribute may be her ability to shake off a bad hole.
“She has a fantastic attitude,” Cougars coach Scott Ark said. “Initially, she’ll get upset, but then she’ll talk out loud and talk her way through it: ‘It could have been worse. I can always play a little bit better. There’s always tomorrow.’ She has a sunny disposition about the whole thing.”
Miller will take that positive approach and all-around game to Mount Vernon Nazarene University this fall. She signed a letter-of-intent last month with the NAIA Division II school, earning a partial scholarship.
She’s believed to be the first Kenton Ridge girls golfer to receive financial aid to play at the collegiate level.
“I wanted to play college golf for as long as I can remember,” she said. “It’s exciting that I’ve been dreaming about it for so long, and I’m getting that opportunity. It feels amazing.”
Miller improved each year with the Cougars, going from an average of 54 for nine holes as a freshman to 43 as a senior. She’s the reigning Clark County and Central Buckeye Conference player of the year
“I was very pleased with the season,” she said. “I played with amazing people, and I had fun almost every single match. I could have done better in some rounds. But overall, the main goal is to have fun with it, and I definitely achieved that goal.”
Part of her fun is getting to know her opponents. But when she runs into players who aren’t as chatty as her, she doesn’t mind having one-way conversations.
“I understand some people are different and they don’t want to talk, so I’ll talk to myself,” she said. “A lot of it is to calm myself down. If I have a bad shot, I have to say, ‘OK, I just have to do this, and I can still get par or bogey.’ I get nervous out there, and that’s a way to steady myself.”
Miller helped Kenton Ridge to its only state appearance as a sophomore in 2014. She was the No. 3 golfer behind Michelle Kulasekera and Baylee Bennett.
She ended up having ACL surgery before her junior season, which turned out to be a boon for her golf game.
“I got really good at chipping and putting because it was the only thing I could do,” she said.
Miller, who plans to study nursing and psychology, has been told she’ll have a chance to play early because Mount Vernon will have a young team. The Lady Cougars finished eighth in the 2016 Crossroads League team championship.
She probably doesn’t need to worry about whether the school is good fit socially. With her outgoing nature, she won’t have a problem making friends.
“I hope I can find someone who likes to talk as much as I do,” she said. “We have to focus on our games, but we can still have fun while we do that.”