No one has to tell Kylan Hollingshed to embrace new challenges.
He’d be the first to tell you he welcomes them.
Such was the case six years when Hollingshed picked up a golf club for the very first time.
As Hollingshed, a native Memphian, recalls, he sensed golf was something about which he could do in his leisure time. But little did he know, he’d ultimately to gain a deep affection for the sport.
“I picked my first clubs up around the age of 11 with my cousin Philip (Hudson),” Hollingshed told MemphiSport during a recent telephone interview from Knoxville. I wasn’t too interested at the time. As I kept playing, people would tell me I was a natural.”
It wasn’t long afterward that Hollingshed began taking lessons at the Gold Academy Of Memphis from longtime golf instructor Mark Grace.
“Kylan showed up one day for a clinic with a mismatched set of clubs and a big smile,” Grace said. “We regripped a junior club and we worked with that club for a couple months before leaving to spend a summer in Knoxville. When he came back he was some four inches taller and in need of new clubs. In two years, he progressed from digging holes to shooting in the mid-80’s. I was sad that he left when he was just starting to polish his game. Kylan has tremendous potential. Kylan learns very quickly, but what strikes me most is his ability to focus on his task while at the same time bring out the best of those around him.”
That this 18-year-old amateur steadfastly stuck with the sport — particularly when he wasn’t knowledgeable about it — has benefited him mightily in recent years.
Hollingshed is a senior standout for Bearden High, where he has upgraded his mechanics considerably since he enrolled at the Knoxville (Tenn.) area school two years ago.
“Moving to Knoxville was not only to broaden my skills,” Hollingshed explained. “It was also to prepare myself for the future. I would say there is more competition, playing against people who were ten times better, who started young motivated me more. They taught me multiple tricks along the way as well.”
To get a clear understanding of why Hollingshed, a former Arlington High golfer, vacated Memphis for a rather unfamiliar setting, look no further than the conversation he and his mother, Lakesh Graffaree, had following his sophomore year.
Graffaree relocated to Memphis from Killeen, Texas 22 years ago to donate a kidney to her mother, who was hospitalized for renal kidney failure. Also called “renal insufficiency” according to WebMD.com, renal failure is a medical condition in which the kidneys fail to adequately filter waste products from the blood.
According to Graffaree, she sensed that Memphis would be a suitable establishment to live and raise a family, let alone remain closely connected to her ailing mother.
Four years after moving to the Mid-South, she gave birth to Hollingshed. Little did she know, he’d move away three years before he was scheduled to graduate from high school.
For Graffaree, witnessing her son move eight hours away to Eastern Tennessee was tough to stomach.
“I didn’t know how he thought that,” Graffaree said of son’s decision to move to Knoxville. “But some reason, he wanted to go there and play golf.”
Luckily for Hollingshed, it was a risk worth taking.
That’s because not only has Hollingshed become the catalyst of Bearden’s golf team, but with weeks before his graduation, he’s now aiming to acquire an athletic scholarship.
Bearden golf coach Susanne Huber believes he’s worthy of a full-ride scholarship.
“Kylan showed how dedicated he was during his senior year by not giving up,” Huber said. “He struggled to make matches his junior year and his senior year, but things have finally paid off. He qualified in the Top 5 going to a match and he proved to me how much of a competitor he could be. Any school would be lucky to have Kylan representing them on and off the course, and I truly feel that he will continue to support Bearden even after graduation. Kylan has amazing potential to be a great golfer and I know he has the drive. After knowing him for two years, I feel he will be successful regardless the cost.”
Two years removed from seeing her son pack his belongings and move away, Graffaree admits he made the right decision, one that, to his credit, has caused Hollingshed to mature as he enters the young adult stage.
Long before he developed an interest in golf, Hollingshed started his own business, Kidz Car Wash, at the age of eight. In addition, he’s a rising artist and is widely remembered by a number of Memphians for a starting a teddy bear drive, a craft that garnered local headlines during his days at Kate Bond Elementary.
Nowadays, however, it’s safe to assume golf is what Hollingshed — who has aspirations of being a civil engineer — relishes the most, thanks in large part to his dauntless decision to head East for an unfamiliar town.
“I still miss him,” Graffaree said. “I’ve never stop missing him. He’s a very positive person, has an uplifting spirit to be around. He’s a really good kid. He’s awesome to be around.”
Not to mention one who’d be the first to tell you he embraces new challenges.