SAN FRANISCO – Cheyenne Woods had heard the scouting report on Amari Avery from friends on the Symetra Tour. She met her for the first time this spring at the Augusta National Women’s Amateur. On Monday, Avery and Woods played nine holes together at The Olympic Club.
“She’s only 17 years old and she’s got it,” said Woods. “She’s killing it.”
Avery first started trying to qualify for the U.S. Women’s Open age 11. She’s one of 40 first-timers in the field and one of 30 amateurs at the 76th U.S. Women’s Open. Avery first burst onto the national scene in 2013 when she starred in the 2013 Netflix documentary, “The Short Game.” Even now, she’s often recognized from the film. While she hates to watch herself on TV, she does appreciate what the documentary has meant to her young career.
“Without the short game, I wouldn’t be, I guess, as relevant,” she said. “My golf game kind of speaks for itself.”
Avery, who has yet to play on the LPGA, is competing in her first major championship this week. She has Brian Thompson, a former teaching pro at Olympic, on the bag. Thompson left the golf industry to take a job in software development and is now a member at the club. He too has watched “The Short Game.”
Last month Avery competed in her first Symetra Tour event, the Garden City Charity Classic, after winning the Mack Champ Invitational and earning the Symetra Tour MVP Invite.
At the event, Avery was grouped with fellow Black golfers Shasta Averyhardt and Alexis Belton. The trio talked during the round about how few Black players there are in all levels of the game.
Even at 17, Avery wants to be part of the movement that works to change that.
“My little sister had a tournament in Arizona,” she said. “Like I said, me and her are usually the only African-Americans out there. I was shocked to see that there were four (Black) girls in the field.
“It’s definitely tough that there’s not a lot of us out here, but from what I’ve seen, there’s a lot of girls and guys coming out. It is growing, slowly but surely.”
Avery, the 2019 California Women’s Amateur champ, has committed to USC but signed up for LPGA Q-School this year. She’ll likely turn professional if she earns her card. Either way, she plans to get started on her senior year of high school this summer and launch her next chapter (college or the LPGA) in January of 2022.
As for this week, Avery said the main goal is to stay out of the rough, though she’d also like to be low amateur. She has a practice round scheduled with top-ranked amateur Rose Zhang on Tuesday and Lydia Ko on Wednesday. She’s friends with Sophia Popov and Carlota Ciganda from her time on the Cactus Tour, where she won an event last spring.
On Sunday in San Francisco, a local LPGA-USGA Girls Golf chapter requested Avery for a Cisco virtual Q&A. She signed flags that will be shipped over to the juniors.
As seen during a virtual junior clinic featuring Amari Avery via a Cisco board during the 2021 U.S. Women’s Open Cisco virtual junior Clinic at Lake Chabot Golf Course in the Oakland, Calif. on Sunday, May 30, 2021. (Copyright USGA/Jeff Marsh)
Avery seems comfortable in the spotlight and is at ease talking about how she might change the game. Tiger Woods remains her hero.
“Just to see that he has taken the game so far, not only for African-Americans, but for everyone else as well, “said Avery. “That, I really look up to. That’s kind of what I want to do with my career as well.
“Obviously I want to bring more African-Americans into to the game of golf, but I also want to bring little girls in general, just bring more people.”