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PRACTICE, PLAY, REPEAT

A great swing and precise putting keep girl in the win column.

Brooke Dalton is a machine.

The 11-year-old is a well-oiled golf machine who is on the course almost daily.

"I just want to practice and play," Brooke said. "I get out there whenever I can and any chance I get. I practice in my room with a club and a ball. I take my putter and just practice on the carpet if I'm just sitting around.

"During the summer, I came out and practiced, then I would play 18. I play all the time."

Brooke lives just across the street from the Links Golf Club and is there more often than some of its employees. She practices and then plays in a few of its leagues, including the men's Wednesdays league, where she gives some of the players a run for their money. That's because not only is she a patient and very good putter, Brooke can drive the ball nearly 230 yards.

"She has the advantage at distance at this point and she's a fantastic putter for her age," said Ray Cisbani, her coach at the Links. "Getting down the fairway and then she's able to finish (the hole) off, that's a deadly combination."

Years ago, her father, Tom Dalton, an avid golfer himself, bought Brooke a set of plastic clubs. She was just 2, but Tom noticed her swing was good. Really good.

"Honest to God, it seems like Tiger Woods' story," Tom said with a laugh. "As a baby, I said to (my wife) Allison, 'My God, she does have a beautiful swing.' I wish I had her form because I'm a lousy golfer."

When Brooke turned 3, Tom bought her a putter. She practiced for years at Summertree Golf Club, then really sharpened her game once she hooked up with Cisbani at the Links.

The long-time youth coach polished Brooke's swing, helping her get the motion down perfectly because "she already had the perfect hip movement" toward the target. Though it was only when she started playing competitively about four years ago that the Daltons, and others, saw Brooke turning heads.

"She's great at placing the ball and has great control," Tom said. "I don't think she's lost five balls the entire time she's played. She can play the longer, more difficult courses easier. Like at World Woods (Golf Club during a tournament), she never left the fairway the entire time."

Brooke mainly plays in the North Suncoast Junior Golf Association in the 10-18 girls intermediate division. That league lets local youths play at the nicer courses up and down the North Suncoast, including World Woods. Brooke is undefeated in the association.

She says it has given her confidence, but it seems she has plenty.

"When I first went out there, I was never worried about (not being good)," Brooke said. "It just felt natural to me. It didn't take me long to learn everything as it did everyone else. I was just able to play."

But Brooke also says she still needs work, such as getting better at chipping, especially around the greens. Though she's not off to a bad start. She has numerous trophies and accolades already in her young career, one she hopes to continue through high school and college, eventually becoming an amateur.

Brooke has the right idea, considering she already plays as much as amateurs do.

Maybe even more.

"She'd play seven days a week if she could," Cisbani said. "When a kid wants to be here, that's half the battle because then they'll put the work in. She really does love golf, ever since I've known her, and when she swings the club, she loves it.

"Rain or shine, Tom or Allison may be sitting in the car, but Brooke will be hitting balls."

Fast facts

Brooke Dalton

Age: 11

School: Bishop Larkin Catholic School, sixth grade

Favorite golfers: Tiger Woods, Paula Creamer

In her bag: Adams irons, men's Ping 5 driver (a hand-me-down from her dad)

Upcoming: Brooke is considering playing in the 2009 PGA Golf Club Invitational on Oct. 10-11 in Port St. Lucie.

Accomplishments: Brooke has 21 first place trophies, three first place plaques at Ray Cisbani's Summer Camp, five first place medals, was named Player of the Year and Stroke Average Player of the Year for the North Suncoast Junior Golf Association and named Golf Player of the Year at her school.

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