Meredith Kirk Makes GD's Top Teachers List

Congratulations to golf instructor (and beauty queen) Meredith Kirk, who is included in the 2015 rankings by Golf Digest of the country's top teaching professionals. Meredith made it into the state-by-best "best of" list for South Carolina:

The new top teachers ranking is included in the November issue of the magazine. As you may be able to see in the image above, Meredith is based at Blackmoor Golf Club in Murrells Inlet, S.C. Want to sign up for lessons? You can book online at Meredith's website.

It's no surprise that Kirk made the list: She was on last year's Best Young Teachers in America ranking.

More Meredith Kirk on Golf Babes

1st Pro Win for Erynne Lee

Erynne Lee is barely a pro, but she's already a pro winner.

Erynne - a k a "Ernie" - graduated from UCLA just a few months ago. On Wednesday in Arizona, she earned her first victory as a professional golfer, winning Cactus Tour Event No. 25 at Las Colinas. Lee did it in style, too, shooting a final-round 66. The 66 included seven birdies. Lee opened with birdies on four of her first five holes, then closed it out with birdies on her final two holes. She also birdied four of the five par-5 holes in the round.

That 66 got Erynne in at 14-under 202, good for a three-shot victory. You can view the final scores here.

Erynne is originally from Washington. You might remember that she was the very first significant casualty of the new groove rules introduced a few years back when she was DQ'd from a U.S. Women's Open qualifier - after winning it - at age 16 back in 2010. Oops! Mistakes happen. It's how you bounce back from them that matters.

That was far from the biggest obstacle Lee has dealt with in recent years. In her freshman year at UCLA, Erynne lost her mother. She told the Daily Bruin this year:

My life took a pause while the rest of the world continued. Like a robot but emotionally distraught, I would wake up, go to class, practice, study and lock myself in my dorm room. I sank into a mire of a pathetic routine. It took me a while to get back on my feet, both emotionally and mentally, in school and out on the golf course.

Through the relentless encouragement and perseverance of my support group and my 'just keep swimming' attitude, I started living in the present, appreciating the little things that we so often take for granted and eventually enjoying my time at UCLA.

Despite that tragedy, Erynne pulled herself together and managed to have a terrific freshman year on the UCLA golf team. She recorded her first NCAA victory and posted six Top 10 finishes. More of the same followed: one win and seven Top 10s as a sophomore; one win and eight Top 10s as a junior. And in her recently completed senior season, another win plus six Top 10s.

Along the way Erynne played her way into the 2008 and 2011 U.S. Women's Opens, and was a member of Team USA at the 2014 Curtis Cup.

Paige Spiranac Begins Pro Career With 68

Here's the tweet that trick-shot artist and Internet sensation Paige Spiranac sent out today:

Great start for Paige and hopefully puts to rest the thought (in some quarters, certainly not at Golf Babes) that Paige's talents were mainly marketing and not golf. Yes, she's great at the former as her tens of thousands of social media fans know. But she's also a talented golfer, as her multiple Top 10 college finishes at San Diego State University showed.

Perhaps that's what she had in mind a couple weeks ago when she tweeted this:

As for the tournament Spiranac played today: It's an event on the Cactus Tour, you can keep up with scores here.

And yes, it's the first pro tour event Paige has played as a professional golfer. She opened with six straight pars before birdying the 7th. She added birdies on 12, 14 and 15 and finished at 4-under 68, without a single bogey.

She had to be feeling some pressure at the beginning of the start. By any measure a bogey-free 68 is a great first pro round; for Paige, even moreso. Here's hoping she keeps it up.

Follow Paige on Instagram or on Twitter.

Hally Leadbetter

Hally Leadbetter comes from a great golf family. Her mother won the U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links Championship the first two years it was played. She was known as Kelly Fuiks back then. And Hally's father ... um ... I forget who her father is.

So when Hally decided to pursue tournament golf - to play in front of crowds and media - you have to think her name created a little extra pressure for her. Plenty of advantages, too, of course - travel opportunities, chances to meet people, relationships and friendships established. Maybe a few free pointers. But when you're the daughter of one of the most famous golf instructors who's ever lived - oh, right, that's who her father is - it helps if you're good at golf, too.

And Hally is very good at golf. Although it didn't start out that way. According to an article in Golfweek, when Hally decided to give golf a try in middle school, she shot 136 in her first 18-hole round.

Hally played golf in high school at the IMG David Leadbetter Academy and got good enough fast enough to earn a scholarship to the University of Arkansas.

She redshirted as a sophomore, then transferred to Rollins College, where she is now a senior in golf eligibility. In her two years at Rollins she's been named second team All-America both years.

"Rollins is the No. 1 D2 (NCAA Division II) team in the country," Hally said. "We finished second at the National Championships last year. My biggest goal for us this year is to finish first."

Rollins may be D2, but it has a big advantage for Leadbetter: A Florida school, it's very close to home. Besides, it's one of the best women's golf programs regardless of division. (USA Today recently ranked Rollins No. 11 overall.)

Hally, 22, is active on campus, too. A major in Communication Studies, she cohosts a show on the school's radio station, WPRK. And she's on the executive board for the school's Student Athletic Advisory Committee.

Hally is big on social media (Instagram: hallyleadbetter; Twitter: @hallyleadbetter) and if she makes you smile, well, mission accomplished.

"My biggest passion is to make people smile and laugh," Hally said. "I'm a pretty silly person."

But serious about golf. In the 2013-14 season, Leadbetter posted two Top 10s including her first college victory at the Lady Bucs Invitational.

In the 2014-15 season, Hally had four Top 10s. That included a pair of fourth-place finishes, plus runner-up at the Peggy Kirk Bell Invitational, hosted by Rollins.

And she teed off her 2015-16 season with her second college win at the Ross Resorts Invitational a couple weeks ago.

Oh, her biggest win yet happened at 2013 Women's Southern Amateur, one of the top amateur tournaments in the United States.

What happens when her senior year is over? Hally plans to turn pro and play golf in Europe.

Ultimately, she wants to put that Communications degree to work: "I would love to combine my passion for golf, knowledge of the game, and humor into a career in broadcast journalism for golf. My ultimate goal is to become an analyst on Golf Channel, ESPN or Sky Sport."

(Photos courtesy of Hally Leadbetter; above, with Michelle Wie; middle, with Annabel Rolley.)

LET Rookie Emily Kristine Pedersen

Emily Kristine Pedersen probably should have won the 2015 Ladies Open de France on the Ladies European Tour. She appeared in control on the back nine of the final round, leading by as many as four shots early on the back nine. But she bogied the 16th and double-bogied the 17th, then lost on the third playoff hole to Celine Herbin.

A disappointing finish for Pedersen to be sure - but also one that indicates, again, the first pro win for the 19-year-old Danish golfer is not far off.

Pedersen earned her LET tour card for 2015 at last year's Q-School, and her rookie season as a pro has been a good one. Emily Kristine's runner-up finish in France is her second second of the season. She was also runner-up at the Deloitte Ladies Open in June. In May Pedersen was seventh in the Turkish Ladies Open and in July she was eighth at the Ladies Scottish Open.

Pedersen is currently second in the tour's Rookie of the Year standings to another Dane, Nanna Madsen. (Still another Dane, Malene Jorgensen, finished third at the French Open. It's a great time for Danish golf, apparently!)

Pedersen, who only graduated high school a few months ago, turned pro after a terrific amateur career that she ended as the No. 1-ranked player in the European Amateur rankings. She won the 2013 Spanish Ladies Amateur and European International Amateur, and the big one, the 2014 British Ladies Amateur.

Emily also played for Team Europe in the 2012 and 2014 Junior Ryder Cups and the 2014 Junior Solheim Cup.

So while she is surely disappointed her French finish, there's little doubt Emily Kristine Pedersen is another young European golfer to keep your eye on.

Sierra Brooks

Sierra Brooks is only 17, still a ways off from beginning her college golf career. But she already has an impressive body of work in the golf world.

Brooks just went 3-0 to help Team USA defeat Team Europe in the 2015 Junior Solheim Cup. That wasn't Sierra's first time representing the United States: She was 2-1 as a member of the victorious side in the 2014 Junior Ryder Cup. She's also played for Team USA in the 2012 Evian Masters Juniors Cup, the 2014 Junior World Cup, and several times in the Wyndham Cup.

Brooks is still in high school in Florida, where she also runs track and carries a 3.5 GPA. She'll be attending Wake Forest when she starts her college golf career in 2016.

Her biggest exposure to the wider golf audience to date was actually in a tournament she didn't win. Sierra was a finalist in the 2015 U.S. Women's Amateur, falling in the championship match to fellow teen phenom Hannah O'Sullivan.

That visibility, plus her composure and maturity, have already earned her television appearances:

Just a few of Sierra's other accomplishments: She won the 2010 U.S. Kids World Championship, the 2013 AJGA Girls Championship, the 2014 South Atlantic Amateur and Polo Classic, the 2015 Women's Southern Amateur, and the most recent Class 1A state high school championship in Florida.

As I write this, Sierra is No. 2 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking.

Her next big goal? Making the 2016 U.S. Curtis Cup team. Anyone want to bet against her? Didn't think so.