EAST LIVERPOOL, Ohio (WKBN) – Eli Stewart of East Liverpool is a phenomenal golfer, and he is only 11 years old.
Eli got his first pair of golf clubs for Christmas when he was 4 years old.
“I like to golf because it’s a way of getting me out of the house. The golf course has always been my happy place,” he said.
Eli does not brag about what he has done. He lets his accomplishments speak for themselves.
He is already a four-time state champion, and he finished eighth in the world in his age group last month at the USKG World Championships in Pinehurst, North Carolina. He is ranked nationally for his graduation year (2030) on the Junior Golf Scoreboard.
The golfer said he loves to go outside and practice, and that’s the reason for his success.
“I just love to practice. It’s like the one sport that I love to practice. It’s just really fun and I never really got bored of it,” Eli said.
The golfer practices at his favorite course, Turkana Golf Course on state Route 170 in East Liverpool. Eli and his family are thankful for the support they have from everyone at the course.
He can also practice in his yard by using his own personal at-home putting green.
The putting green came from a generous gift from family friend Brian Boyd, and it was unexpected. Boyd was called to Turkana Golf Course to join his brother Jeff’s four-man team in the Red & White Tournament on August 5. When Boyd reached Hole #17, he achieved the unthinkable. He got a hole-in-one.
“I said, ‘Oh My God.’ It was the first time ever. I’ve been golfing since I was 8. I’m 52. So I hit the lottery,” Boyd said.
Boyd won a putting green for his home, but he had no use for it because of his situation. He thought that his friend Eli could use it instead.
Eli is incredibly grateful for Boyd’s gift.
“It was amazing. It was like a blessing from God. I’ve always wanted to have a putting green down in my yard. When I heard about it, it was very generous of Brian to gift it to me, and I’ll use it. It’ll get its use,” he said.
Eli and Boyd both now have something in common. Eli hit his first hole-in-one at Turkana earlier this year, which can be seen in the video below:
Boyd is amazed by Eli’s talent, and he knows he has what it takes to make it big.
“I just knew in my heart, honest to God, 100% that this young man has what it takes to get to the next level, and that’s what it takes, and he has it,” Boyd said.
His father and caddy Josh Stewart is incredibly proud of him and his accomplishments. Josh Stewart is glad that he and his son get to bond over their love for the game.
“He’s better at this sport than anything that I’d ever been good at in my life. Being his caddie for a lot of these events gives us a lot of one-on-one time and a lot of time to talk. We both like to compete, so we have a shared love for the sport,” Josh said.
Eli appreciates all of the advice and wisdom that his dad gives him.
“He always pushes me really hard to be the best I can be, and it’s just, he’s always been there for me, always gets me ready for the tournament, and he’s just a great dad,” Eli said.
Eli and Josh have to travel to tournaments all over the country. Eli has already played in areas like Pittsburgh, New Jersey and North Carolina.
Josh said it takes lots of sacrifices for Eli to maintain success and that most weekends are taken up by competitions.
Eli often competes with and has better scores than some high school players at some of these events.
“I think it’s fun to have an 8-foot birdie put and to win against a 17-year-old. They’re twice as tall as me,” Eli said.
On September 30, he won another championship at a local course. He won the USKG Local Tour event at Mill Creek Golf Course with a score of 67.
Eli also won the Optimist International Ohio qualifier at Mill Creek Golf Course, punching his ticket to the prestigious Notah Begay III Junior Golf National Championship on November 4-6 at Koasati Pines in Kinder, Louisiana.
Eli will be one of 150 boys in the tournament that will be broadcast on the Golf Channel.
He is excited to represent East Liverpool and the state of Ohio on the big stage.
“I think it’s really cool to be able to go to a big tournament and they say that I’m from East Liverpool, Ohio. I feel like I represent the town,” Eli said.
His ultimate goal is to eventually play college golf somewhere and make the professional ranks.
“If I get to that point, hopefully, I can go to the PGA Tour,” he said.