LIHU’E – Puakea Golf Course Director of Golf Kellie Pleas recently announced that Kaua’i star junior golfer, Lehua Wise, has accepted a golf scholarship to New Mexico State University, where she will compete for the university’s powerhouse NCAA Division I women’s golf program beginning next school year.
Pleas, who in addition to instructing Wise for the past four years coached her on the Kaua’i High School girls golf team, predicts Wise will excel at the collegiate level.
“Lehua is an extremely talented player who has a tremendous work ethic and an ever-growing mental command of the game,” says Pleas, the only female PGA Member head golf professional in the state of Hawaii. “And most importantly, she enjoys the game, which bodes well for her future.”
Wise, a 17-year-old senior at Kaua’i High School, is a 0-handicap player. Only in her fifth year playing the game, she has knocked 10 strokes off her game in the past four years since she began working with Pleas. Her career-best round is a 69 at Po’ipu Bay and at Mid Pacific Country Club during this years’ Hawaii State Women’s Stroke-Play Championship.
She was the No. 2 player as a sophomore on her high school golf team, when the squad won the state high school girls golf championship. Last season Wise was the No. 1 player for Kaua’i and the individual runner-up in the state’s junior girls amateur championship.
Wise was recruited by New Mexico State Coach Joann Cox, who saw her play in the Girls’ Junior America’s Cup last summer in Boise, Idaho. Cox was the 1999-2000 National Golf Coaches’ Association Coach of the Year. She has led the Aggies to multiple Big West Conference Championships and NCAA Championship berths.
“It’s exciting to be joining such a quality program at such a great university,” says Wise, who will enroll in New Mexico State’s PGA program, a professional golf management curriculum. “I couldn’t be happier with the athletic and academic opportunities at New Mexico State.”
Wise has twice played with Tiger Woods, both times at Po’ip Bay during the 2001 and 2002 Grand Slam pro-am events. Their team finished second each time.
“Tiger chatted with me as we walked down some of the fairways, and he said he could really see an improvement in my game from a year ago,” says Wise, whose mother works at Puakea, the highly regarded course owned by AOL Founder Steve Case. “Tiger congratulated me on my scholarship to New Mexico State.”