A hand injury led this talented athlete to pursue golf, and BurgerFi helped put Rollins on her radar.
Madison Lellyo ’18 (Photo by Jim Hogue Photography)
She didn’t realize it at the time, but growing up in the Windermere area of Orange County—home to Bay Hill, Isleworth, and dozens of touring pros—Madison Lellyo ’18 had the golf world at her fingertips.
Oddly enough, a well-timed hand injury allowed her to grasp opportunities she never knew existed.
Photo by Jim Hogue Photography In fifth grade, soccer was Lellyo’s sport of choice. In fact, she had never even picked up a club. But after hurting her hand, Lellyo missed soccer tryouts and couldn’t play that season. So her mom put her in a summer golf camp, she took a few lessons, and the rest is history.
Highly recruited out of Orlando’s Olympia High School, Lellyo immediately made her presence felt at Rollins, winning her first tournament and earning NCAA Division II Freshman of the Year honors. As an encore, this season she helped the Tars capture the national title—the program’s 13th overall and first since 2008.
“Madison set the bar so high as a freshman,” Women’s Golf Head Coach Julie Garner says of this deceptively “shy” golfer. “When you first meet her, she pretty quiet. But I have to tell her many times to use her inside voice, because it’s amazing how far it carries. When the whole team starts laughing and having fun, she’s definitely one of the loudest.”
Bio: Born and raised in Orlando; attended Olympia High School; majoring in economics
2015-16 highlights: 77.7 stroke average; shot 1-over 73 in second round of Jacksonville Classic; finished T-7 at Ross Resorts Invitational
So, I hear your teammates have a special way of getting you to quiet down. “Yeah. Sometimes when I talk too much in the van and stuff, they’ll give me three strikes and then I can’t talk for the rest of the tournament.”
Sounds like good-natured fun. “We’re all pretty goofy and funny, and there’s a good chemistry. We spend so much time together, even away from the course. It’s always easy when you can laugh at each other constantly. The bond on our team is unbelievable.”
Photo by Jim Hogue Photography
Why did you choose Rollins? “Other than eating at BurgerFi and my sister being tutored on campus, I really didn’t know much about Rollins. I was about to go visit other schools, but I sent an email to Coach Garner and met with her the next day. Just from what she said to me in the course of two hours, it sold me. Most coaches want you to focus on just golf; she wants you to improve in all aspects, not just the golfing side.”
Golf: Mid-Pines in Southern Pines, North Carolina, and CommonGround in Denver
Academics: Monetary Economics
Favorite professor: Joan Davison (political science)
How would you describe your game? “I’m a short-game player. I don’t hit the ball very far, so putting is my best aspect. I’m pretty calm too. I don’t get too angry or excited.”
Favorite place to hang out: “I’m a big sports fan, and I play other sports in the summer like beach volleyball at Disney. During the school year, there’s not really much time for anything else, but I do play basketball with my friends. I like to keep moving, work out.”
What does it mean to be a championship-caliber athlete at Rollins? “It’s definitely about managing your time—you’ve got to be 100 percent in it. Everyone on our team, if we’re not studying we’re on the course.”
Editor’s note: As part of our series on the women’s golf team, we’re spotlighting the five golfers—Lellyo, Hally Leadbetter, Lexie Toth, Annie Dulman, and Paige Lyle—who teamed up to win the national title. To learn more about the team’s path to the championship, read “Anatomy of a National Title”. A full-length profile on Garner will appear in the Fall 2016 issue of Rollins magazine.