8-year-old golfer already turning heads
Warren’s Gianna Clemente taking on older competitors
By Charles grove
Gianna Clemente is a name you could be hearing a lot in the future in women’s golf.
The 8-year old is one of the best golfers her age in the nation and it’s not rare to see her put up red numbers on her scorecard, even at national tournaments.
Clemente has won 72 of the 86 competitive events she’s entered since she began playing competitively sat age 5.
She won the U.S. Kids World Championship in 2015 and came runner-up the following year.
She’s won four regional championships, three state championships and the Peachtree Jr. Masters Championship.
This spring she’ll compete at Augusta, Ga.
“Gianna qualified for the Drive, Chip and Putt Championship,” said Patrick Clemente, her father. “This is more of a skills contest that you could compare to the Punt, Pass and Kick competition the NFL [has].
“She had to win a local meet, a sub-regional at Westfield Country Club and then a regional at Oakmont. The top 10 kids get to compete nationally the Sunday before the Masters,” he said.
“She’ll get to putt on the 18th green at Augusta, have a fancy dinner with celebrities and it’ll be broadcast on The Golf Channel and NBC.”
Golf has been a staple in the Clemente family. Patrick played at Youngstown State while his brother, Colin Clemente, played at Akron. Gianna picked up a club not long after learning how to walk.
“She started at about 2,” Patrick said. “She always had a club in her hand. It runs in the family. She’s always been around the game. She’d be out on the green with me or doing a little putt-putt or something.”
Gianna has won tournaments in Florida, Arizona and Georgia. She’s been so successful that she’s started challenging herself more by playing girls about to enter high school. Gianna has won three Hurricane Major Championships in the girls 13U age division.
“She’s playing kids a lot older but is trying to play different kinds of golf,” Patrick said. “It’s worked out pretty well for her from a developmental perspective. She’s playing in tournaments for girls 13-and-under on regulation ladies tees courses, which is typically about 5,200 yards.
“The key is not only is she winning, but she’s trying to play in events where she’s not always winning and getting better in a different way.”
Gianna dominated her competition at the U.S. Kids World Championship in 2015. She won by eight strokes and was the only competitor in her group to finish under par. It was a proud moment for Patrick.
“I felt nothing but pride,” Patrick said. “I can remember feeling like a dad because she had won comfortably so you’re coming down those last couple holes and you’re trying to keep her in it while I’m caddying for her but part of you becomes a dad when you’re smiling and feeling proud.”
Two of the biggest challenges Patrick and his wife, Julia. balance is making sure she remains social and has friends and maintaining her studies.
“It’s definitely a challenge,” Patrick said. “When school starts back up you’ve got to balance the time which is more of a challenge. School is a priority. She’s 8, not 18.”
From a social aspect, Patrick said his daughter has made great friendships with other girls on tour when away from northeast Ohio.
“The good thing about the traveling is she’s always around other kids and other kids’ families so that’s really good from a social side,” Patrick said.