JAMESTOWN — When Liz Miller first picked up a golf club she had one goal in mind: Please her mother.
“She wanted me off the couch,” the Legacy Christian Academy senior said after a quick giggle. “My mom (Michelle) didn’t want me going in as a sixth grader and not doing something in the fall. I’m not a runner. I despise running. If you see me running there’s a problem.”
So that pretty much left golf as the option when she heard the team at Xenia Christian (as it was known at the time) was looking for sixth graders.
“(I figured) if that’s gonna make Mom happy, I’m down to try it,” Miller said.
And then something happened when she played five holes during the 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. practice at Sebastian Hills.
“It just stuck with me,” Miller said. “I really enjoyed the challenge of it. I was so excited to go back the next day. I was was begging to get back the next day.”
She kept going back and has parlayed that love at first sight into the opportunity to golf in college. Miller recently signed to play at NAIA Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, Ill., around 60 miles southwest of Chicago. She also considered several NCAA Division-II and NAIA schools, but there was no real competition once she visited in February.
“It was head and shoulders above everyone else,” Miller said. “I thought this would give me the best set up for what I wanted to do with my life. I loved the team. Just being there with people who love golf like I do.”
That’s what ONU Director of Golf and Head Coach Bill Johnson likes about the Jamestown resident.
“Liz is a golfer — a term I take seriously,” Johnson said in a release from the school. “A golfer is someone who loves the game, appreciates the tradition of the game, and embraces the game with their heart. Moreover, Liz has the capacity to be a great leader, a leader who leads by example, hard work, and dedication on the golf course and in the classroom. We are all excited to watch her legacy develop and to witness the mark she will leave on her four years at Olivet.”
Miller already has quite the, uh, legacy in the area.
She is a mainstay in the Southern Ohio PGA Players Tour and Golfweek National Junior Tour since 2016, and participates in many local tournaments and events. She ended the 2019 touring season with four top 10 finishes and competing in Ohio High School Athletic Association sanctioned tournaments and invitationals, added five additional top 10 finishes during her junior year. She was the individual medalist in sectional tournaments in 2017 and 2019, and was tournament medalist in 2018, becoming the school’s first golfer advancing to qualify for the district tournament in three consecutive seasons.
Most of the girls invitationals she planned on playing were cancelled due to COVID-19 so she’s playing on the boys team to help with their conference standing. She’s currently in the top 10 for scoring average and is crushing drives around 250 yards on average with another 10 yards on the roll.
Miller’s best 18-hole score in high school is 79 and she has turned in an 80 during the summer tournament season. While playing casually, Miller has carded a 2-over 74.
“We are so proud of Liz and all her high school accomplishments,” Legacy Athletic Director Bev Moser said. “It was fun to watch all her hard work and dedication pay off on the course and be there to cheer her on. We are looking forward to following her collegiate career.”
Miller is going into a good situation at ONU. Under Johnson, the team has won six conference titles and made five appearances in the national championships during his nine-year tenure. The Tigers look to have five seniors next season so Miller will be able to ease in at first.
“I think I’ll be walking in the middle of the pack,” she said. “Once I get into a routine with team workouts and team practices, I think I’ll rise to the occasion. I know going in to a team, they’re expecting me to do well.”
Miller’s mom should be happy with that.
Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.