Geneseo's Keely Nguyen makes repeat trip to State Golf Meet

Claudia Loucks
Keely Nguyen, daughter of Don and Melody Nguyen, made a second trip to the IHSA Golf Tournament, which would have been her third trip had it not been for the pandemic.

Keely Nguyen, a senior at Geneseo High School, competed in the State Golf Meet for the second time in her high school career. The recent competition would have been her third trip to State had it not been for the Covid-19 pandemic cancelling the high school state events.

“After getting a feel for the State Finals in my freshman year, I set a goal for myself to end my senior season at that same course, Red Tail Run in Decatur,” Nguyen said. “During Covid last year, there was no State Tournament, so I treated the Sectionals at Rock River GAP as my State Tournament.”

In her senior season of playing golf for GHS, the team was undefeated (9-0) and Nguyen was medalist for all of the meets with the exception of one at Saukie in Rock Island when she said she had “an off day.”

“My State experience this year was great considering I achieved my goal of making it to State, although I was hoping to play better compared to how I did. Although I was pretty bummed out because of this, my coach told me that my two-day State score was actually the fourth best girls’ golf state score in Geneseo history, just a stroke behind my current coach, Allison Cooney, formerly Allison Farrell.”

Girls’ Head Golf Coach Jon Murray praised Nguyen for her “hard work,” and said, “Keely deserves every bit of the accolades she has received as a result of her extreme hard work over the past four years. Her low scores will obviously be missed next season, but hopefully some of her work ethic has rubbed off on the younger players who will then be able to fill the void.”

Murray said Nguyen “will make a great college player due to her work ethic and dedication to the sport.”

He listed some of her accomplishments:

-2 x Team MVP.

-2 x State Qualifier (missed junior year due to Covid).

-2 x WB6 All Conference.

-WB6 Scholastic All-Conference.

-Medalist or Co-Medalist in all but one of the 9-hole meets this year.

Nguyen’s golf career began just prior to her freshman year at GHS and she said, “I’ve always been familiar with the sport because my Dad plays golf occasionally, and I would watch the pros play on television. I basically introduced myself to the sport, considering that one day I decided to take up golf just so I would have something to keep me busy during the fall.”

She said she primarily plays at the Geneseo Country Club or TPC Deere Run which is also where she had private lessons with her swing coach, Butch Haverland.

“Butch Haverland has always been the coach I’ve learned from since the very beginning, and I still work with this to this day,” Nguyen said. ‘We used to practice at TPC Deere Run, but he switched courses and now teaches at Palmer Hills in Bettendorf. Butch has definitely been a huge part of my golfing career and I wouldn’t be nearly as skilled without his help.”

“My favorite part of golf is always being able to improve, even with the slightest adjustments,” she said. “The most satisfying part is definitely when I’m finally able to get a feel for something I’ve been working towards improving, and the most frustrating aspect is when I have to take a bit more time on something to really perfect what I’m aiming for.”

And Nguyen firmly believes in the motto, “practice makes perfect,” as she said, “In the off season I play every single day, usually even multiple times a day. For example, if I had an early morning tournament and wasn’t pleased with my performance, I would go out to the course and work on my game. I play just about every course in the Geneseo, Davenport, Bettendorf, Rock Island, Sherrard, etc. area.”

Being part of the Geneseo High School Golf Team made her a stronger player, Nguyen said, “Because I was able to look up the upperclassmen that showed me what made a strong athlete.”

The goals she has set for herself include improving her mental game during tournaments and meets, “and to never let go of the determination that I have finally gained for myself.”

Nguyen plans to play golf at the college level, but she is undecided as to where she wants to attend college…”I am not completely sure yet. I have looked into universities farther away like Hawaii Pacific, but mainly have my eye on colleges in Minnesota and Tennessee,” she said.

Being accepted into college should not be a problem for her as Nguyen is a straight A student, and she plans to major in biology for pre-med studies, in hopes of going into emergency medicine after graduating, she said.

In addition to golf, Nguyen also is in National Honor Society and FCA, and she plays soccer in the spring. She said her favorite classes at GHS are math and science.

Her parents are Don and Melody Nguyen and she has a sister, Kristen Kleppe, and a brother, Kristopher Nguyen.