When Blue Valley North junior Jean Tyrrell got back to school in August, she had plenty to write about when her English language arts teacher asked the students to write about what they did during the summer.
It isn’t every high school student who makes a trip to China to play golf for a USA National Team.
Tyrrell was one of four girls and four boys picked to play in the 2013 USA-China Youth Golf Match. And all eight of the golfers were under the age of 16.
“We were picked on a combination of community service, leadership, grades and golfing ability,” Tyrrell said.
The Americans were in China for six days in early August.
“We played two different courses,” she said. “The ProAm was played at the Ian Woosnam Course of Nanshan International Golf Club in Yantai, and the other matches were played at the Nanshan International Training Facility outside of Beijing.”
The event was played as a Ryder Cup style match — alternate shot with a teammate, best ball with a teammate and match play.
“The final score was 8-6 with China winning,” Tyrrell said. “Most of the singles matches were rained out on the last day.”
Tyrrell lost her singles match to the No. 1 Chinese player but still enjoyed the experience.
“It was a great experience to compete at the very highest international level,” she said. “All of the players from Team China lived, trained and attended school at the International Training Facility. It is sponsored by their government and corporations.”
It was not all golf for the golfers.
“The last day we were there, both the China and USA teams went to the Great Wall, the Market and the Forbidden City,” Tyrrell said. “Another day we explored a Buddhist temple and got to see where the Olympics were held in 2012.”
What was her impression of China?
“The biggest difference I noticed right away when I walked off the plane is that there are so many people everywhere and the food is nothing like Chinese food in the U.S.,” she said. “I tried a variety of different foods, and sometimes I wasn’t sure what I was eating, but I did like the way they prepared duck.”
Tyrrell said that she made some new Chinese friends.
“The Chinese team were great hosts,” she said. “They and the USGA (United States Golf Association) rolled out the red carpet for us.
“When we arrived the International Training Facility, they had banners with our pictures and names as if we were pros. I loved having a caddie every day, too.”
The Mustangs junior got her start in golf at an early age.
“I pretty much grew up around the game of golf due to my parents,” she said. “I live on a golf course.”
She has had a successful high school career for the Mustangs. She was a member of the 2011 Class 6A state championship team.
In the fall of 2012, she shot her first hole-in-one at the Blue Valley Cup Tournament at Ironhorse Golf Club. She shot a 74 to win the tournament, and her team also won the team title.
She tied for first at the Lawrence Free State Tournament at Alvamar, and the team won the team title. Tyrrell placed 11th at the 2012 6A state tournament.
“I have always enjoyed the game, but last year I started to develop a great passion for the game,” she said.
She also won the Missouri Junior Amateur Championship this summer.
In addition to golf, Tyrrell plays basketball for the Mustangs and was a member of the 2012-2013 team that finished third at the 6A state tournament.