CARLSBAD — A small blonde woman practices chipping into a sea of golf balls with a putting green hidden underneath. She has been at this a while.
Aliea Clark, a Carlsbad resident, is one of the top young golfers coming out of the San Diego area.
“What I like about golf is that it is never the same. It is always a challenge,” Clark said. “You are rarely ever going to have the same shot twice and it is a thinking game.”
Clark is not your average 17-year-old high school student. She could not tell you the latest Wiz Khalifa song, but is always keen to bring up the latest current affairs update from her CNN app.
“I love business, politics and law,” Clark said. “NPR is usually set in my car.”
Kip Puterbaugh, who has been coaching Clark for approximately the last six years, said her hunger and love of golf makes her easy to coach.
“She likes to compete and she doesn’t like to lose,” Puterbaugh said. “It is easier to coach someone when they really love the game and she has that.”
Clark has finished inside the top 30 of her last four tournaments and the top four in her last three San Diego Junior Golf Association events.
Clark said her competitive nature and love for the game is what has driven her to become a better golfer, but admitted she can take it too far at times.
“It is kind of my biggest problem at tournaments, I practice too much and then I get tired,” she said. “This summer I have had to step back and go home after my round instead of staying ‘till dark.”
However, the endless practice rounds and tournaments have helped Clark accomplish one of her biggest goals. Beating her father.
“The goal was always to beat dad,” she added. “I have to give him eight strokes now and I still beat him.”
Golf has taken Clark to 26 states and Puerto Rico, and she is not slowing down. Clark has had a very busy summer and said she only spent eight days at home.
“It has been such a great journey,” Clark said. “From playing local things and making friends here to making friends across the country and even around the world.”
College is also on her mind as she enters her senior year in the top 10 of her class at The Academy of Our Lady of Peace.
Clark has narrowed down her college choice to three schools, but did not want to name them for recruiting reasons.
“I am not committed yet and won’t be until about the end of October,” she said. “I am looking for a team I get along with, a Division-1 school because I love to compete, and academics.”
Clark represented Team San Diego in the Girls Junior America’s Cup this summer and finished fifth, which was the highest finish for Team San Diego.
“Any time you finish in the top 5 in a tournament that has people coming from all over, you have got to feel good about that,” Puterbaugh said.
Clark is currently dealing with a foot injury, but said she will be back on the road Aug. 23 for her next tournament in Malvern, Pa. — if she’s healthy enough.