HOOVER, Ala. (WIAT) — Sometimes, Chase Kyes’ mother tells him he must come off the golf course.
Kerstin Kyes said her oldest son, who won the 2023 Alabama High School Athletic Association Class 7A State Championship last week as a Spain Park High School sophomore, is a perfectionist. That means Kyes’ desire to sharpen his skills can even lead to him forgetting to eat.
Fortunately for the 75th-best golfer in the Rolex American Junior Golf Association Rankings, Kyes lives in the private Greystone Golf & Country Club, which includes two 18-hole golf courses. His mother said in the summer, regardless of the hot and humid conditions, he’s on the golf course at 7 a.m. and doesn’t return home until 13 hours later.
It’s all a part of Kyes’ championship mentality – he’s placed first in two AJGA and two Southeastern Junior Golf Tour events. Anything short of a first-place finish is just unacceptable to him. In fact, his mother mentioned he sees even winning a golf state title as not good enough. He’s ranked No. 14 in the class of 2025 by the AJGA.
“I think that there’s not a lot of people that have the competitive drive that I have, and I hate losing so much that it drives me to win and to be the best that I can possibly be,” Kyes said. “I don’t really know a lot of people that put in the time and effort and just overall all the things I do towards the game. I don’t really think there’s a lot of people that are willing to put in what I put in, and I think that is why I’m successful at what I do.”
His family used to reside off the public Ballantrae Golf Club in Pelham, and that’s where Kyes fell in love with golf. But it wasn’t until he was 11 that he first started to compete in golf tournaments.
Instead, baseball was the first sport in which Kyes seriously competed in. That was a sport that led his father, Ryan Kyes, to an All-American First Team selection as a student-athlete at Ohio University. Kyes advanced to the travel level and though he said he was decent, he felt burnt out. He stopped swinging a bat after sixth grade, and Kyes played middle-school basketball before solely focusing on golf.
“Since we lived on a golf course, I went out there with me and my dad,” Kyes said. “It started as just something fun to do on the weekends, and I had a natural ability at it sort of at the beginning, and I enjoyed the competitive part of it being one-on-one type me versus you instead of a team aspect.”
That passion led him to the Blackburn Golf Academy, which is at Greystone. Mark Blackburn, who was named the 2020 PGA Teacher of the Year, hosts the golf school. For about the past six years, Kyes has trained with another coach at the academy, Chip Thomas. His family eventually moved to Greystone so he could have all the time on the golf course he wanted, which wasn’t possible at Ballantrae.
Kyes recalled that when he first started practicing with Thomas, he told him had really good hands. It led to Kyes learning difficult flop and spin shots at 12 and 13 years old. In Kyes’ golf resume, he notes his skills allow him to escape trouble situations like forcing the ball in a three-foot window between trees or over North Carolina pine trees.
His resume also mentions his ability to shape shots lets him play in all conditions. Despite Kyes listing himself at 5-foot-9, he asserts he can still generate high speed and compete at any length. He credited his state championship to his success with approach shots and putts.
He’s been with the Spain Park boys’ golf team since seventh grade. Though starting high school sports earlier than ninth grade is unusual, Kerstin Kyes said most elite golfers his age don’t attend public schools and instead go to private and golf schools.
Because Kyes travels for AJGA events, his mother said he’s a “half-virtual” student but keeps up his grades and social life. Kyes won his first-ever high school tournament when he downed future University of Alabama golfer JP Cave and Auburn University golfer Ryan Eshleman in a five-man playoff.
Fast forward to the 2023 season, and Kyes rewrote the record book. His 36-hole score of 131 in the David Miller Memorial at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at Magnolia Grove-Crossings Course is an Alabama high school record. Across 14 rounds, he recorded a record-low 68.2 scoring average. Kyes’ 12 rounds under par tied current PGA Tour golfer Robby Shelton. The right-handed swinger put up two rounds of 64 during the season.
“I think if you met him on the street and said ‘Hey, I heard you’re good at golf,’ his response would probably be ‘I’m OK. I’m decent,’” Kerstin Kyes said. “He would never ever tell anybody all his accolades or tell anybody he’s the best even though that’s his long-term goal.”
Kyes aspires to be like his friend Nick Dunlap, a current UA golfer who was named the 2021 AJGA Boys Golfer of the Year and was ranked as the No. 1 junior golfer by Golfweek in the class of 2022. Kyes is slated to compete next in the AJGA Team TaylorMade Invitational, which runs from Thursday through Sunday.
He’ll attempt to qualify for the U.S. Junior Amateur Golf Championship and U.S. Amateur Championship in the summer. Kyes said he wants to win the USJAGC so his name can be up there with the likes of Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth. As for college, Kyes would like to join a program in the southeast. It’s all in his plan to become the world’s top golfer.