Meet the next generation of must-have names that are changing the game in the Introducing series, where Sports Illustrated and Empower Onyx celebrate the black women and girls who are emerging leaders and rising stars in the sports world.
Surname: Kyndall Campbell
Job: Competitive golfer
Hometown: Sterling, Virginia.
Interests and hobbies: Reading, volunteering, all Marvel comics, hanging out with friends, and playing golf with the family
At 16, most teenagers think of cars when they drive. But not Kyndall Campbell – she thinks about driving golf balls. She is a sweet, smart, and low-key girl until she starts talking about golf. Then your competitive spirit awakens. The young golf master sat down to explain how a sport that appears boring on the surface gives her an adrenaline rush like no other, why she loves to beat her father at his own game, and more.
Empower Onyx: You started golfing when you were 6 years old. Most kids this age are into things like video games, Disney – anything but golf. What attracted you to a more typical adult game at such a young age?
Kyndall Campbell: At that time we had just moved to a new country, Trinidad and Tobago. My mother and her friend, who both had children of about the same age, thought it would be a good idea to let us play golf just for fun. I stuck with it and of course was good from the start. I’ve had a lot of success and I love that feeling of winning, the feeling of my name being called and saying that I’ve won.
EO: What makes you good at golf?
KK: If I get out there and shoot 69 it’s a good day. At someone else and they shoot, let’s say 81, that’s good for them. It’s different for everyone. I think everyone who plays golf is good – golf is a tough sport. The fact that you are playing is amazing.
IT IS THAT: You get excited talking about winning and being on the pitch. What gives you this rush when it comes to golf?
KK: I prefer to drive a car. It’s really nerve-wracking on the very first tee, but after I hit my driver and it’s perfect, about 280 meters outside, I’m great. I’m confident that if you put in a 4.5 foot putt for birdie, it’s something like no other, something that cannot be explained. It’s just such a good feeling.
IT IS THAT: Golf is commonly referred to as a white privilege sport and a “dad” game. Do you see the face of golf changing?
KK: Historically, blacks were not allowed to participate in the sport. Even now, there aren’t as many African Americans on the tour as there should be. The relationship is terrible in the truest sense of the word. It is a problem. However, I am feeling a shift as a lot more African American kids are out there playing. I have a small group of friends from all over the country who are African American golfers and we are all competitive. It’s great to have friends who are black who know they think as much as you do, that they are equally hungry to be successful and to be on the tour. It’s amazing, and it’s important for sport to maintain that presence.
IT IS THAT: Do you have any African American role models in golf?
KK: I love Mariah Stackhouse. In middle school, when I started really focusing on golf, I watched Mariah Stackhouse do putts and punch her teammates with her fist at the NCAA championships. It was amazing. I knew this was all I wanted to do in college. I wanted to be in this exact place. It made me want to become a better golfer and make the adjustments necessary to get there.
IT IS THAT: Golf can seem out of reach for some with the expensive equipment and limited access to golf courses. How would you encourage a young person like you who is interested in golf but lacks the resources?
KK: I would recommend you join First Tee – it’s a national organization that teaches you how to become a better person while being a successful golfer at the same time. You give clubs to the kids that can’t afford them, and you can also practice and learn the sport to see if it’s something for you.
I love doing volunteer work with my First Tea chapter. It has given me a lot of options. I went to Pebble Beach two months ago and played in a televised tournament and a Clemson University tournament earlier this summer. Even if you don’t want to be a professional golfer, they will help you with whatever you want to do.
IT IS THAT: Are there any other golfers in your family?
KK: Actually, all four of us play golf – my mother, my brother and my father. My father is a teacher. He was also a competitive junior golfer.
IT IS THAT: What does a family golf trip look like?
KK: It is fun; Everyone in my family is competitive. My brother always tries to see if he can overtake me or if he can do better. It’s a great family dynamic.
IT IS THAT: Last question: best golfer in the family?
KK: You see … that would start a lot of discussion. I would say myself. My father would say himself. Let’s just say we’re very close.