Golf

On May 22, Falls Church native and 11-year-old Delaney Raptis sunk the shot many golfers aspire to make and never do in a lifetime: a hole-in-one. 

Raptis, a rising 7th grader at Longfellow Middle School in McLean, said it was a hot and sunny day at TCP Potomac at Avenel Farm in Potomac, Md., and said she wasn’t playing well. That was, of course, until she made the shot. 

“I was super surprised because I saw it going towards the hole, like rolling towards the hole, and I didn’t think it’d go in the hole but then it did,” Raptis said. “I was so shocked.” 

Raptis said she didn’t know exactly how far away it was, but her and her dad, Steve Raptis, estimated 120 yards. For the entirety of the round, Raptis said she shot somewhere around a 95. 

Raptis plays on a recreational team in Maryland called the Avenel Aces on Team 3. The Aces participate in the PGA Junior League, and play teams across Maryland against golfers ages 11-13. 

The tournaments that the Aces play in are 9-hole scramble style, meaning that on each two- or three-person teams, the golfer who shoots the best shot is the ball the team plays from. Raptis said she plays with her older brother, Andy (12), frequently in these tournaments. 

“They both have their strengths,” Steve Raptis said. “Delaney’s a great driver of the ball and a great chipper. Andy’s really good around the greens [and bunkers, added Delaney] … they compliment each other well.” 

The Raptis’ kids just completed a tournament June 6 against Bretton Woods — the match was very close and came down to the end, but the Aces lost 2-1. Andy and Delaney are both seasoned veterans for their age, considering when they started playing relative to many other golfers across the country. 

“When I was little, maybe 5 or 6, my dad started to take my brother and I out to the course,” Raptis said. “We would kind of just putt and chip until a few years ago — three years ago maybe — we started getting lessons and then we both got better at golf.”

The elder Raptis said before Delaney and Andy got lessons from trainers, he would have them start 30 yards behind the green and just putt onto the green and putt out. He said that length moved to 50 yards and he’d then have the two chip. This early putting and chipping hasn’t prevented Raptis from having a great driver for her age — her father said she can drive 160 yards and play from the ladies’ tees. 

If she could improve anything, Raptis said she wants to work on her mid-irons, fairway woods and hybrids because she said she’s really inconsistent with them. However, if there’s a work ethic that can overcome those weaknesses, it’s hers. 

“She’s about the hardest working kid I know,” said her father. “She’s a straight ‘A’ student … When we get out on the golf course, she puts a lot of pressure on herself, more than her golf teacher probably likes, but that’s just her nature. She’s a bit of a perfectionist and I think it just drives her to work really hard.” 

One might think that this kind of work ethic was needed for Raptis to keep her form in limited time on the course during COVID-19. Contrarily, Raptis only played once a week before the pandemic compared to three times a week when her league started the first week of April this year. Golf is one of the few sports that had the capability to ramp up play during COVID-19 because the sport is naturally socially distanced. 

As we look into the horizon past the pandemic, Raptis’ horizon envisions herself either helping animals — even just bugs, she said — or playing golf in college. She said it would just be “the best” to go to college while playing golf.

And if there’s anyone that can make that goal happen, it’s the 11-year-old that already has a hole-in-one in her back pocket.

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