ADDISON – Dana Gattone will have some good stories to tell when she explains what she did on her summer vacation.
The Addison resident and St. Viator senior played in elite junior girls golf tournaments in July to help improve her game.
Earlier this week, she competed in the U.S. Girls Junior Championship at Sycamore Hills Golf Club in Fort Wayne, Ind., one of the biggest junior girls tournaments in the world. Gattone qualified for the tournament via a qualifier earlier in the summer at Elgin Country Club. Once there, she made the cut to advance to the final 64 golfers, where she was knocked out in the first round of match play.
“My favorite part about it is competing against different girls,” Gattone said, noting that she has played against girls from Trinidad and Tobago, Guam and the Philippines this summer.
A week ago she traveled to famed Torrey Pines Golf Course in San Diego for the Callaway Junior World Championships. In one of her rounds she played with a girl from Japan who didn’t speak English, but her game did all the talking.
“The way she played different shots helped me learn a lot,” Gattone said.
The elite competition has helped Gattone, who is a three-time state qualifier for Viator, improve her game this summer and get more exposure. She said hundreds of college coaches have attended the recent tournaments and she’s met coaches from top programs.
Gattone thinks she can contend for the state title when she goes back to playing high school golf in the fall.
“Over the winter I worked on gaining a little more muscle and more speed in my swing so I can hit it farther,” Gattone said. “(The top players) can miss every green and go up and down all the time. I want to be a player that can make the shots to give me those pars.”
Gattone, who calls Medinah Country Club her home course, competed in gymnastics and golf while growing up. She picked golf around sixth grade.
“Once I started tournaments I decided I wanted to stick with golf,” she said. “I always say my favorite part about the game is the results are a direct reflection upon your work. There’s no judges.”
While she admitted it will be an adjustment to head back to high school golf after the tournaments she’s played in this summer, she is looking forward to being one of three senior captains on the Lions.
“I know that will be really fun,” Gattone said. “Teach those freshmen some lessons.”