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Banned Golf Phenom Returns To Links, Keeps Winning

Banned Golf Phenom Returns To Links, Keeps Winning
From Deadspin - September 13, 2017

After a bizarre, court-orderedban from golf, a preteen golf prodigy in suburban Washington, D.C., has returned to the sport, and has picked up right where she left off

In the spring of 2016, Judge Jeanette Irby of the Circuit Court of Loudoun County, Va., ruling in a custody case involving the girls parentsMichael Vechery v. Florence Cottet-Moine ordered that the couples then-10-year-old child shall not be permitted to play competitive golf for one year. Along with specifically prohibiting entry in tournaments, Irby also ruled that during the ban, the child could have no lessons with any golf pro with the exception of the father and can play no more than one round of golf per week for five hours with putting and practice.

Before being ordered off the course, the girl, whom Deadspin is choosing not to name, had won 11 of the previous 12 tournaments shed entered. Most of the wins came in nine-hole, age-group events in the D.C. area sanctioned by Kids Golf USA. But in November 2015, playing in an all-ages field and in the first competitive 18-hole round of her life, she shot an 84 on a 5,500-yard track to win the womens club championship at Algonkian Golf Course in Sterling, Va.

Judge Irby did not ask the child about her thoughts on playing golf before issuing the ban. And after issuing it, the judge declined a request from Deadspin to explain her ruling. Several golf industry sources told Deadspin at the time of Judge Irbys ban that they had never heard of a custody decree that included a prohibition on the sport.

Both parents admit the custody fight, now in its eighth year, has gone on too long and gotten too ugly, but those are the only things they seem to agree on. Florence Cottet-Moine, the youngsters mother, said that although she did not ask for the golf ban, she supported the judges ruling; Michael Vechery, the girls father and primary golf coach, asserted the judges ruling was unfair and was intended to punish him. Vechery asked various Virginia courts to modify Irbys order and strike down the golf ban, but his appeals were denied.

But the ban expired on May 2, 2017. A week later, the kid, now 11, entered an age-group tournament sanctioned by US Kids Golf at Poolesville Golf Club in Montgomery County, Maryland, and won. She went on to finish first in six of the next seven state and local youth tournaments she entered, plus one second place finish. Over Labor Day weekend, in a regional tournament at Seaview Golf Resort in New Jersey, she finished just one stroke off the lead, behind a Canadian who is the reigning US Kids Golf world champion.

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