Budding Golf Superstar Staci Pla Making Waves In The Sport

Berean Christian School’s Staci Pla at the FHSAA state golf finals.

One of the possible future superstars in women’s golf is connected with a school in the western communities. It’s Staci Pla, who is affiliated with Berean Christian School.

Staci, who just turned 17, is homeschooled, but she plays on Berean’s girls golf team. Her mother, Sherri Pla, is the head coach of the boys and girls golf programs at Berean.

Staci’s journey in golf started when she was very young. She first touched a club at age three. Her first tournament golf experience took place when she was five.

“I shot a 39 for nine holes, but it was a shortened course,” Staci recalled.

Since then, she has not stopped playing.

Staci, who just turned 17, just achieved another big win in her life, as she successfully defended her title at the IMG Palm Beach Classic at PGA National (formerly, the Junior Honda Classic) held Jan. 6-7 on the Fazio Course at the PGA National Resort & Spa in Palm Beach Gardens.

In the 36-hole event, Staci shot 70-74 (144). Not many young golfers get a chance to play in an event like the IMG Palm Beach Classic at PGA National, and even fewer actually win an event like that. Well, Staci has now won the tournament twice in a row — and she plans to go for the three-peat next year. The only other female golfer to win this event twice in a row is Alexa Pano of Lake Worth Beach, who won the tournament three times in row and now plays on the LPGA Tour.

Prior to her recent victory at the IMG Palm Beach Classic, Staci had a strong 13th-place showing in her first trip to the Florida High School Athletic Association’s Class 1A state golf championship, which was held Nov. 7-8 at the Mission Inn Resort & Club in Howey-in-the-Hills, Florida.

The Las Colinas course was used to stage the two-day, 36-hole event for the girls. In that 36-hole tournament, Staci shot a pair of one-over-par 73s for a total of 146. She finished in a two-way tie, 10 shots behind the winning score of 136. To qualify for last fall’s FHSAA Class 1A tournament, she won the Class 1A, District 13 tournament with a round of 66 at the Meadowood Golf and Tennis Club in Fort Pierce on Oct. 24. That was followed by a 72, good enough for a two-way tie for fifth in the regional tournament on Oct. 30, which was held at the Sandhill Crane Golf Club in Palm Beach Gardens.

The next golf tournament for Staci is the American Junior Golf Association Annika Invitational, which will be held at the Eagle Trace Golf Club in Orlando Jan. 14-16. As the name of the tournament suggests, it has the backing, support and involvement of LPGA Hall of Famer Annika Sorenstam, who is one of Staci’s idols.

“Annika is the best,” Staci said. “But I also like other LPGA players, like Lexi Thompson and Nelly Korda.”

In early February, Staci will be playing in the pro-am of the PGA Tour’s Farmers Insurance Open, which is being played at the Torrey Pines Golf Club in La Jolla, California, just outside San Diego. She was invited to that event based on her overall solid play.

After graduating from high school, Staci plans to play college golf, preferably at the NCAA Division I level.

“My two top picks are Wake Forest University and the University of Miami, but I also like the University of Florida and Auburn University,” Staci said.

After college golf, she would like to pursue a professional playing career on the LPGA Tour.

For somebody who relishes the challenges that golf presents, don’t bet against her.

“I think I can get better every time I play golf,” Staci said. “I like the challenges that golf presents.”