COLUMBIA — In the town of Chillicothe, a brother and sister were surrounded by the game of golf. Kyle and Madison Marcolla do not remember the first time they played golf, but they cannot picture their life without the game.
They still find themselves playing the game they love at Mizzou. Kyle Marcolla is currently a senior on the men’s team while Madison Marcolla is settling in as a sophomore on the women’s team. The two came to Mizzou after illustrious careers in high school and are competing to become every day players on their respective teams.
Trips to the driving range were the first golf experiences that the Marcollas can remember. Their father, John Marcolla, can be credited for sparking their interest.
“When we were little, we would go out to the range together,” Madison Marcolla said. “We lived close to a golf course so we would drive our cart out there and play.”
Their father said he would take the kids out to the driving range because he liked to hit balls in the evening after work. It was also an opportunity to get the kids out of the house so their mother, Laurie, could have a break.
Their mother also played a crucial role in their development by making sure they made it to all their tournaments. Countless times, their mother would leave the house at 5 or 6 a.m. to drive them to Kansas or Kansas City to play. Kyle Marcolla said she supported them even if they were hitting bad shots. He recalls some of his early rounds of golf differently than his mother might.
“I remember playing a few holes and then lying to my mom about how good I shot,” he said.
Their sister also played golf. Madison Marcolla and her sister, Mollie, were both members of their high school team, but Mollie decided that she had a better future in tennis after her freshman year. This move was classified as rebellious.
In high school, the Marcolla’s enjoyed success on the course for four years. They were both cautious to praise themselves.
“Kyle won state,” Madison Marcolla said emphatically.
“Yeah I won state my junior year. I was all-state three times, but she was all state four times,” Kyle Marcolla quickly added.
“Kyle got the record for the lowest round in a state tournament,” his sister concluded.
The low round that she mentioned was a 66. This was not the year that he won state. Kyle Marcolla couldn’t help but laugh when he recalled shooting an 86 on the first day of the tournament.
“It was really upsetting, but things just took care of themselves on the second day,” he said.
Although Kyle Marcolla finished sixth in the tournament, his sister still calls his second round “impressive.” His father believes that as impressive as winning state was, qualifying for the USGA Junior Amatuer was more important.
“Kyle is from a small town. To compete with the best golfers in the country was outstanding,” their father said.
The Marcollas now spend their time playing golf at Mizzou. Both had different reasons for attending. Kyle Marcolla recalls being a fan of Mizzou his entire life. He said he was “ecstatic” when Mizzou’s previous coach, Tim Robyn, told him that they had a spot on the team.
Madison Marcolla, however, was not as sold on Mizzou until she visited her brother at Mizzou.
“I came and visited Kyle and I loved it,” she said. “I knew that I wanted to do broadcast journalism, so I felt like it was the perfect fit.”
Over the years, their father said he could tell that they were getting better and better. He was just happy that they enjoyed the game as much as he did.
“Having two kids playing for Division 1 schools in the Big 12 is something more than any father or mother could hope for,” their father said.
During his time at Mizzou, Kyle Marcolla has seen limited playing time in tournaments. He has not lost his competitive edge and is constantly working hard to get in the lineup.
“I feel like if I get in the lineup, I can help our team do bigger and better things. I am just working hard everyday trying to reach my goal of playing all the time,” he said.
Madison Marcolla had her first experience playing in a tournament for Mizzou earlier this month. She said that it’s not just about playing, she wants to be able to contribute to the team’s score every time.
When it came time for her first match-up, her big brother had some advice for his sister.
“I told her to relax. It’s pretty overwhelming the first time. You have to take your time and not get ahead of yourself,” Kyle Marcolla said.
When she found out that she would be playing in her first tournament, she made sure to call her parents. Marcolla said they were just as, if not more excited than she was about playing.
“My dad said I am so glad that you get to go travel now. I have watched Kyle and now I can watch you. I want it to be like who do I get to see this weekend,’” she said.
Words such as these make her want to practice even harder. Sure enough, Marcolla’s father made the 10-hour drive to Michigan, by himself, just to watch.
“Her mother was sick to death that she could not attend. To see Madison break into the starting role was an extreme parental moment. A thrill of a lifetime,” her father said.
The Marcollas said that golf has brought them closer over the years. In the summer, Madison Marcolla found herself living with her brother and another golfer on the men’s team.
“I loved it. I love hanging out with the men’s team, just as much as the women’s. They are people you can relate to in other ways,” she said.
As for their future, golf is a game that they want play for as long they can.
“I’m just going to work hard and see where it takes me. Even if I do not play professionally, I am going to play golf forever,” Kyle Marcolla said.
With her time at Mizzou going by quickly, Madison Marcolla jokingly said that she is thinking of getting a masters to continue playing at Mizzou.
“I’m just trying to think of how much more school I can do so I can keep playing golf,” she said. “I have never not had golf in my life so I don’t know what it would be like if I just stopped.”