What started as a fun game to play with her dad turned into a real passion for Emma Kate Rice, a 10-year-old golf enthusiast and sixth-grader at Brookwood Forest Elementary.

That passion for the game was on full display when Rice won third place in Augusta National Golf Club’s Drive, Chip and Putt National Tournament on April 2.

The tournament featured 10 of the nation’s best golfers in his age group, said Allison Rice, Rice’s mother.

Emma said she was nervous before the competition, but that nervousness subsided when the competition started.

Before tournaments, she says, she likes to think to herself, “I can do this.

“I was very shocked at first to see the final standings, but then very excited and proud of myself,” Rice said. “It also gets me excited and fuels my fire to try again.”

It was Rice’s first national competition, but she has competed in several tournaments, including the Magic City Tour in Birmingham and the US Kids tournaments in Montgomery and Huntsville. She also played on the Predators team at Pine Tree Country Club, where she learned to play. The Predators are part of the Professional Golf Association Junior League.

Rice started playing golf with her dad when she was 7 and was eager to learn more, she said.

She began learning to play through the Operation 36 program at Pine Tree Country Club with her former coach, Paul Whitman, PGA Golf Director and Pine Tree Country Club Assistant General Manager.

She now enjoys playing with her “gramps” at Lake Hartwell in Georgia, family friend Adam Cohen and her coach at Greystone Golf and Country Club, Liz Mattioli, Rice said.

She said she liked golf because of its challenge. Golfers need to think about every shot they take and need to “work hard to play their best and keep getting better with every round,” she said.

She also likes sports because it allows her to meet new people, and she has met her best friends as a result, she said.

“I learned a lot of life lessons through golf, like never giving up,” Emma said. “I learned that at Augusta National for Drive, Chip and Putt. I was in last place after the Drive and Chip portions of the competition and came back to finish in third place overall with putting.

Rice’s mother said she and her husband are both very proud of their daughter’s hard work and positive attitude.

“She is very dedicated and always works diligently to achieve the goals she has set for herself,” Allison Rice said. “We were blessed to make so many fun memories with her at Drive, Chip and Putt. She’s a lovely girl with so many opportunities in life, and we’re thrilled to see what God has in store for her life. .

Rice said she plans to try and qualify for Drive, Chip and Putt again, but will play several tournaments this summer in the meantime, such as tournaments through the Birmingham Golf Association and in the Alabama-NW Florida Section of the PGA.

“My favorite experience last summer was shooting an even 36 for 9 holes in the second round of the BGA Championship at Bent Brook Golf Course,” Rice said.

When she’s not golfing, Rice enjoys reading, swimming, doing arts and crafts and learning science, her favorite subject in school, she said. Rice is trying out for the group this year and plans to play golf at Mountain Brook High School.