Over the past two years, the Lady Maroons’ golf team has developed into a regional powerhouse with back-to-back regional runner-up finishes. Pulaski’s success on the links has been fueled by the strong play and leadership of their top golfer Chelsea Branscum, who tied for regional medalist honors in 2008 and finished fourth in 2009.

Upon completion of a long and successful prep career, Branscum signed to play golf with the University of the Cumberlands.

For her high school golf coach James Powell, Branscum’s departure to play at the next level was a bittersweet moment for him.

“For the last six years, Chelsea has been the backbone of our program,” Powell stated. “We have been very fortunate to have a player like Chelsea. She started playing for us in the seventh grade, but she started golfing even earlier than that with her father. She had a goal to play golf in college. She excelled in high school and accomplished a lot of her goals. Now, we get to watch her accomplish a few more goals at the collegiate level.”

“We are losing Chelsea, and Ashley Morris as well — we are going to miss them both,” Powell commented. “Our golf team is more like a family and we have never been a traditional team. We have been a family, a group of parents, a group of kids who love each other and support each other. It has been a great environment and it is different than any other sport I have ever coached in my 28 years of coaching athletics. Yeah, we are going to miss Chelsea and Ashley, but we will also miss their parents too.”

Branscum’s immense talent was documented on her scorecard every time she completed a round of golf, but it was the little things that were not documented on the scorecard that made her a huge asset to the Pulaski golf team.

“Her skills were just a small part of it,” Powell explained. “Her maturity, her leadership, her ability to put the team on her back and carry us helped us as a team. She was humble and she would always support her teammates, even if she was having a bad day as an individual on the course. She never once complained or griped in the six years on the team. You never once saw he feel sorry for herself. She just simply went about her day-to-day activities and doing what she knows what to do.”

University of the Cumberlands golf coach Chris Kraftick had seen Branscum play in several junior golf tournaments while he was the pro at London’s Crooked Creek Golf Course. After landing the coaching job for the Lady Patriots, two years ago, Kraftick knew he wanted to make Branscum a part of his golf program.

“I have known Chelsea for a number of years and I have known her family for a number of years when I was the pro at Crooked Creek,” Kraftick commented. “I watched her play so much junior golf and I know what she is capable of. She’s a super student, she works rally hard and she fits everything we do. We put more into our program than most programs do at our level, and she loves all that. She loves the training, she loves to practice, she is very competitive and she is use to winning playing for Pulaski. All that said, she is just a perfect fit for us.”

“Signing Chelsea Branscum was a big deal to us, because she was one of our big recruits,” Kraftick admitted. “She was someone I targeted when I first got the coaching job at Cumberlands two years ago, and she was still a junior. It is important for us to send a message locally in this region that what we do at Cumberland is really cool and the girls can come here and play at a really high level of golf, yet come to a school that is smaller to get the academic attention. The fact that we are getting the kids from the Somerset area, who are some of the best players in the region, is a huge deal to us because they are a huge factor in our line-up.”

Kraftick landed Somerset golfer standout McKinzie Price one year prior and now signing Branscum puts two local superstars on the same golf team.

“Chelsea is a very accomplished high school golfer,” Kraftick said. “She was by far one of the best players in the region this year. It is important for us to get those kind of players in our program. Last year, we signed McKinzie Price of Somerset, who was also one of the best players in the region and she has came in and had a great freshman year. I think Chelsea can come in and do the same thing.”

“College golf is competitive and there is a lot of travel involved because we are all over the place,” Kraftick continued. “The fact that Chelsea has been through all that, she’s been to the state tournaments and played an extensive summer schedule means she is ready for the next level. I expect us to have six or seven really good players next year and she is one of them. It will be a whole new ball game for her, but she will be ready because of her experience.”

Branscum’s long-standing relationship with Coach Kraftick and Cumberlands’ academic programs influenced he decision to sign with the Lady Patriots.

“I have had a great golfing relationship with Coach Kraftick and that was a big part of my decision to sign with Cumberlands,” Branscum said. “The girls are all great and I have had so much fun with them. The school is really nice and they have a good program in what I am wanting to major in, which is chemistry and then go into the physicians assistance program. Cumberlands just recently added that program, which is awesome.”

Branscum was thankful for her high school coach and all the girls she played with while at Pulaski County High School.

“Coach Powell has really did a great job of getting the girls out to play,” Branscum said. “He has always put us in some great tournaments and he has definitely helped us all out a lot.”

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