Kayla Gadberry

Kayla Gadberry is the new assistant golf professional at Teton Pines.

There’s a symbiotic relationship between two of Teton Pines’ newest employees. One ignited the career of the other. And the latter helped the club’s new golf pro make a quick impression on his new employer.

When Matt Stireman wants to show his new clients the proper golf swing, he calls on his 24-year-old assistant, Kayla Gadberry, to demonstrate.

“When I see Kayla I’m like, ‘Kayla, come here. Hit this shot,’” said Stireman, 57. “Every time she’s hit a golf ball this season it’s made me proud.”

Gadberry is a heck of a ball striker but an even better golf pro, Stireman said. She “pretty much ran” Stireman’s golf shop when the two worked together at Teton Springs in Victor, Idaho, back when Gadberry was a high school senior at Teton (Idaho) High.

Six years later Gadberry is responsible for picking up any slack Stireman can’t reel in, especially when it comes to operations. Last weekend the two spent 14 hours a day together putting on the club’s annual member-guest tournament. It was a demanding task for two employees that just began their new roles this spring.

But their longstanding partnership, which requires little communication, helped it go smoothly.

When the weekend concluded without a hiccup, Stireman sent Gadberry a “thank you” text.

“She said ‘No problem. I like making you look good,’” Stireman said. “She literally does make me look good.”

Before he was even offered the position at Teton Pines, he asked Gadberry to be his first assistant. She was returning from a golf gig in Wellington, New Zealand, when Stireman extended the offer. Stireman was told to expect some “good news” in the coming days so he reached out to his longtime friend and pupil in hopes that Gadberry would choose to work close to home.

Gadberry’s resume includes gigs at some of the country’s most prestigious academies and courses such as Mission Hills Country Club in Kansas City, Will Robins Golf Academy in Folsom, California, and Chicago’s Medinah Country Club, host of the 2012 Ryder Cup. Stireman came to visit at almost every stop she made.

Gadberry received the plentiful opportunities while completing her professional golf management program at the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs. There she served as the first female class president of the program.

Gadberry credits the opportunities in Colorado Springs, Medinah and New Zealand, along with many others, to Stireman.

“He’s the reason why I’m a golf professional today,” she said. “I would have never made it into the golf program without him.”

Stireman first noticed Gadberry when she was entering her freshman year at Teton High. He was the head pro at Teton Springs and sponsored the high school team by offering the club’s facilities as well as instruction to the young golfers.

He immediately noticed the only girl on the team and offered her a job washing golf carts in exchange for golf lessons. The relationship blossomed, but by Gadberry’s junior year Teton High no longer had a golf program. Her desire to improve remained, though, as she aimed for the 12 handicap needed to be accepted into the University of Colorado golf program.

With continued help from Stireman, Gadberry lowered her handicap from 23 in October of her junior year of high school to 9.8 the day she graduated. Her career was set in motion.

Stireman said he’s lucky that Gadberry returned close to home to work for him. If she so chooses, he said, she’ll have an even bigger role here when he retires at 65.

“She’s going to get a lot of offers and be where she wants to be,” Stireman said. “But if she chooses to be here for six or eight years, she’ll be the next head golf pro here. I guarantee you she will.”

Gadberry hardly cracked a smile when Stireman said those words. The message didn’t surprise her.

“It’s humbling, but that’s the relationship we have,” she said.

Contact Clark Forster at 732-7065, sports@jhnewsandguide.com or @JHNGsports.

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