In August 2019, flight cancellations on the eve of the Tennessee Big Shots left Alexis Belton with no clubs, no suitcase and seemingly no way to get to Kingsport. "I'd missed the cut in a Symetra Tour event earlier that day and was feeling a little low, which is unusual for me," says Belton, 26. An inveterate journal keeper who hand-writes her thoughts and experiences nightly, Belton would have a remarkable tale to tell. After hitching a rental-car ride with a Golf Channel employee caught in the same predicament, she arrived in Kingsport at 4 a.m. Using a driver borrowed from Phillis Meti and wearing clothes from the night before, Belton ground her way through qualifying and match play, and in the final she hammered a 328-yard drive to beat her benefactor, Meti - Belton's second WLD title. "My first thought was, Cool," "My second thought was, Poor Phillis."
For Belton, there always seems to be a way. Her venture into golf has been scrappy, her success unlikely. Lithe and slender at 5-foot-10, she became a celebrated high-school basketball player in Ruston, La., then discovered golf at age 16, and a year later, quit basketball.
"My parents were horrified because I passed on full-ride basketball scholarships to concentrate on golf," she says. "I wasn't very good, but golf makes you dream big." Belton walked on at Texas Wesleyan, got a golf scholarship within a year, and played three years, earning a degree in mass communications.
Belton has many interests, including playing guitar and preparing shrimp dishes that impress her culinary-proud Louisianans. But she has independent tastes, eschewing some music ("Harsh sounds make me angry") in favor of gentler tunes. She follows her heart in golf, too. After turning pro in 2017 and experiencing little success in small events in America and Australia, a failed attempt at 2018 LPGA Tour Q school set her back.
"I wanted to get my $2,500 entry fee back somehow," she says. A naturally gifted long hitter, she entered the 2017 WLD Championship on a whim and made it to the semifinals with a 348-yard blast against Troy Mullins. Buoyed by a small paycheck and knowledge she had used only a standard-length driver, Belton acquired a longer stick and won the second event she entered, the 2018 Clash in the Canyon. She then sought help from instructor Brad Pullin, who has refined her classic, rhythmic swing. In Belton's seven most recent events, she has failed to reach the quarterfinals only once.
Though smitten by long driving, Belton has a goal of making it to the LPGA Tour. "The adrenaline of long driving hasn't always transferred well to actual golf," she laughs. "Out of nowhere, I'll hit a 9-iron 180 yards and airmail everything by 30 yards. But I'll get there. My dream is the same as when I was 16: to be the best in the world."
ALEXIS BELTON SYMETRA TOUR
Belton started playing golf at the age of 16...Hobbies included quality time with friends and family; Netflix and Hulu, Shopping, Golfing, Vision Boards
2019 in a Nutshell
? Eight events played
? Dean's list - 1 year
? Three wins in collegiate competition; 1 PGA Minority Championships Win
? Won the Independent Women's Division of the PGA Minority Collegiate Golf Championship in 2013
? Two-time medalist for Texas Wesleyan University including program's first individual title at the 2013 Al Jones Memorial
? Named a 2015 NAIA Honorable Mention All-American as a senior for the Lady Rams
? Captured the 2015 LWGA Four-Ball Championship title with teammate Sydney Martien
? Two-time winner on the World Long Drive Tour with a career-best drive of 357 yards