Riley Clute named district champ after a lifetime of golfing
Riley Clute was 6 when she moved with her family to Central Pennsylvania from Western New York. But going back to her roots just south of Buffalo, N.Y. is what she said helped contribute to her golfing success through high school.
After all, the Bellefonte Area High School senior claimed the District 6 Class AAA title during the fall season after shooting an 89. The feat took her to states on Oct. 19 at Heritage Hills in York, which she said was difficult, but a good learning experience.
“I would play up there a lot,” Clute said about traveling to Chautauqua County, N.Y. “Even after we moved here, we traveled every weekend back there and spent a lot of time there. It’s kind of where I learned about the sport.”
Growing up golfing, she said it was her father and grandfather who first put a club in her hands. From there, she took advantage of bonding time on the course with the people she loved, and then found a passion for it about three years ago when competing for the school.
“That was really the first time I played (competitively),” Clute said. “My dad helped me take it more seriously and I found a new appreciation for the sport.”
Under direction of teacher and Coach Jayme Zimmerman, the girls’ golf team played in two 18-hole invitationals, and nine-hole matches every week against other Mountain League teams. Those matches and other contests helped Clute qualify for districts. Her district title then punched her ticket to the PIAA state tournament.
“I experienced a lot of trouble before the season, so I wasn’t really sure I was going to be able to play,” Clute said. Earlier in the school year, she caught COVID-19 that set her back. “Being able to play my season my senior year was great. I had big hopes going into it and I think I achieve everything I wanted to. It teaches you what you’re capable of when going through (adversity)”
State’s didn’t go as hoped, but she instead walked away with a great experience and lessons learned that were something Clute said was more valuable than placing. She ends her high school golfing career with tips for younger players that includes practicing, relaxing and just simply enjoying the sport.
“I say relax and enjoy it, because when you get yourself worked up, you’re not going to play your best,” she said. “And take in all the experiences from practice to playing in bigger tournaments. It’s not all the time that you get to be in that moment.”
Clute is also involved in in Raider Revolution, and is the treasurer for the Class of 2022, French Honor Society, and Ski Club and Snow Sports.
*By Brit Milazzo, public relations director, BASD