Del Mar golfer’s numerous title wins elevate her to an elite class

By Kelley Carlson

A recent achievement has put young golfer Courtney Hooton on par with the best junior golfers in San Diego history.

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Courtney Hooton

Courtney, a senior at The Bishop’s School in La Jolla, has won the San Diego Junior Golf Association’s Championship Division for the third consecutive year, a feat only previously accomplished by Phil Mickelson, Christy Erb and Mike Riley.

The title is the 17-year-old’s ninth consecutive age class triumph with the association — something that no one else has achieved in its 59-year history, according to Courtney’s father, Claude Hooton.

“It’s very exciting for me,” Courtney said. “I take each victory in stride. It’s such an integral part of my golf career.”

The Del Mar resident has been playing for more than a dozen years, first swinging a golf club at age 5. She was introduced to the sport by her grandparents Libby and Wally Frank, who lived in Rancho Santa Fe. They often took Courtney and her sisters, Libby and Chloe Belle, to the Lomas Santa Fe Executive Golf Course.

Courtney found herself drawn to the sport, as she enjoyed spending time with her family and being outside. The sisters always encouraged one another and kept each other on their toes at all times, she noted.

Since she first started playing in tournaments at age 6, Courtney has built quite a resume. She has won more than 250 events, including the U.S. Kids Golf Teen World Championship in 2007, and two American Junior Golf Association tournaments — the 2010 Lessings Classic and the 2011 Rochester Open, both in New York. In addition, Courtney has qualified twice for the U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship, and a record 12 consecutive years for the Callaway Junior World Championship.

Competitions take Courtney all over the country — “from Iowa to New York — it’s crazy,” she said. Most of them are held during the summer, when the teen plays multiple tournaments each week. Quite a few are held in the San Diego area throughout the year, and Courtney says she averages about one event a month when school is in session.

The busy schedule is necessary to receive national recognition, she said.

“You need to be in a competitive atmosphere to keep your game up,” Courtney said. “Golf is truly a year-round sport.”

But academics come first, she emphasized, especially at The Bishop’s School, which is well-known for its rigorous program.

“My parents instilled in us that [academics is] a priority,” Courtney said, and added that she needs to have something to fall back on in case golf doesn’t pan out.

So far, Courtney appears to have managed to juggle golf and academics just fine, sporting a 4.15 GPA.

“I’ve found that time management is important,” she said, and noted that she receives support from her teachers.

Courtney also has played for Bishop’s golf team since ninth grade.

“It’s really fun,” she said. “Being on a team is so different. Golf is an individual sport ... (being part of a team) is a whole new dynamic.”

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