Into the Swing of Things
Nov. 3, 2000
by Jannae Amador
Kelli Kamimura needs little introduction. She is one of the fastest-rising players on the Washington women's golf team and is no stranger to hard work.
A typical non-tournament day begins at 6:30 a.m., "with a workout that emphasizes cardio work and lots of abs," explains Kelli. "Then I have classes from 11:30-1:30. Then it's off to practice until 5:30 p.m. After that Ill either study or hang out with my friends. The next day, I do it all over again. It might sound like a grind, but it can be fun."
This routine is nothing new to the Husky golfer, who has been playing the game of golf for nine years.
"My father saw a lot of potential in women's golf so he decided to teach my sister Jenny and I how to play at a young age," says Kelli. Her father, Garret, even installed a bunker in their back yard. "My sister and I were playing a lot at Gateway Golf Course, and it doesnt have bunkers. Jenny and I talked to dad and he agreed to put one in at the house," says Kelli.
With all that time to practice in her own backyard, it's no wonder that Kelli was a four-time state champion at Sedro-Woolley High School.
As one of the top eight junior golfers in the country -- and the top junior in the state -- she received a sponsor's exemption and played in the SAFECO Classic at Meridian Valley in September 1998. Kelli was also a member of the first Izzo Cup Team, comprised of the top six junior girls from the U.S., which managed a win over the top six girls from Sweden in Atlanta in 1998.
Kelli was an All-American and All-Pac-10 first team selection after her stellar freshman campaign, establishing a school record with her season-ending stroke average of 74.46, surpassing former Husky great Dodie Mazzuca (1994-97).
In her sophomore year, the Washington native fired off a season-best second-place finish, and helped Washington to a fourth place team finish at the Roadrunner Invitational in New Mexico. Kelli finished the season with the fifth-best stroke average in Husky history at 75.9, and had five top-10 finishes, the fifth-most ever for a Husky. Thus far, she has garnered nine career top-10 finishes, a feat topped only by Mazzuca.
Kelli continues to lead the Husky women this season. In the first tournament of the year, she finished 17th at the Comcast Dick McQuire Invitational at the University of New Mexico, helping her team to a 13th-place finish. Most recently, she led the Husky golfers to a 7th placing at the Edean Ihlanfeldt Invitational held at the Sahalee Country Club in Redmond, Wash., in October.
This season, the backyard rivalry has been renewed, with Kelli's sister Jenny joining the Husky squad as a freshman.
"Im excited about teaming up with Jenny again," Kelli says. "It's a good experience for the both of us. I'm able to help her out with both golf and school."
Jenny, a freshman, agrees. "It's nice to have somebody there. I like it a lot."
Kelli and Jenny last teamed up in 1997, when they placed 1-2, respectively, at the Class 3A State Championships, leading Sedro-Woolley to the overall title. Jenny placed fifth in 1998 and last spring she won an individual state title of her own.
The younger Kamimura also won her division in the Washington Junior Golf Association from age 8 through 15, making her the only junior to win six different age divisions.
Throughout her high school career, Jenny played with the Sedro-Woolley boys team during the Northwest League season. She would then compete with the girls team in district and state championships.
"I had a lot of fun playing with the boys. They were and still are good friends," says Jenny.
On their own, Kelli and Jenny are great golfers, but together they are stronger than ever. Reunited this season, the dynamic duo promises to be double trouble for Husky foes.