Hannah Ghelfi, a resident of Falmouth, is soft spoken, intuitive, thoughtful, and, when her eye is on the prize, focused.
The 21-year-old University of Michigan golfer, a former Falmouth High School standout golfer and hockey player, will be honored as the winner of the annual Anne Marie Tobin Women’s Golf Association of Massachusetts Player of the Year during the annual Salute to Champions Dinner at Wellesley Country Club.
She is the first Cape Codder to win the coveted award, although Tracy Welch of Winchester, a member at Woods Hole Golf Club and cousin of PGA Tour standout Brad Faxon, won the honor in 2002.
Ghelfi rode an exciting, come-from-behind win in the Massachusetts Women’s Amateur Championship along with solid showings in selected WGAM and USGA events, and other regional and national competitions to edge 2016 Tobin winner Shannon Johnson of Thorny Lea Country Club for the 2017 title.
The award is the culmination of a solid year of golf for the Lawrence Academy graduate who ended up being an integral part of this past year’s Michigan golf squad.
Hannah began golfing around the age of nine, following in the footsteps of her older brother Durham, who graduates from Lake Forest College in Illinois after the next semester.
“I was one of those little sisters that wanted to do everything my brother did,” Ghelfi said with a laugh about her starting the game of golf. “Durham got into the Cape Cod Junior Golf Association because Mr. Flynn (John) was a teacher he really liked in school. Mr. and Mrs. Flynn ran the Association at the time. So I just did the same thing. Durham didn’t like that much, but he had no say in the matter.”
Hannah, like her brother, also played hockey at the time and it wasn’t long before that translated into her being a good golfer.
“My dad (Scott) felt that I had a good swing at the time,” she said. “Golf just got better from there.”
So did her hockey. Ghelfi played for the Falmouth team that won the National Tier II championship in 2014 and would have been a member of the Falmouth High School team that won the state title in 2015 had she not transferred to Lawrence Academy in Groton.
Ghelfi soon realized her athletic future was on the links, not the rinks.
“I could have gone on to play college hockey at a D-3 level, but I turned my focus to golf,” she said. “Golf has given me some great opportunities. I have been able to go all over the country. I played in the U.S. Junior Girls Championship and the Callaway Junior Tournament in California. The coaches from Michigan saw me play out there and when I stopped by the college to look at it when we were visiting my brother at Lake Forest, I knew that was where I wanted to go.”
Since then, Ghelfi’s meteoric rise has been happening at a rapid pace. She defeated one of the more experienced players on the Michigan team to earn a spot on the varsity last spring and her game has been steadily improving since then.
This coming golf season, she will be traveling with her fellow Wolverines to Orlando and California for tournaments. She also will be working diligently to boost her academic standing in the Michigan Business School, which has proved to be a lot more difficult than she first anticipated.
“I’m hanging in there,” Ghelfi said. “There are some courses I’m taking that are really difficult (statistics being the one that makes her eyes roll up into her forehead). But this is the direction I want to go in. I’m not going to play, or even try to play, on the LPGA Tour, but I would like to get involved with the business side of golf. I would keep playing (as an amateur), but not as a career.”
However, with her game on the upswing and with her victory in the WGAM Amateur Championship at Myopia Hunt Club in Hamilton this past summer, the golf plans may change.
“I like where my game is and where it’s going right now,” she said. “But I’m just enjoying where I’m at and we’ll see where that goes. I want to be realistic about my future, so we’ll have to see where things take me in the near future.”