Keeley Marx was destined to be an athlete and at a young age golf came calling.
The 19-year-old Victorian amateur is the daughter of Australian representatives in discus and javelin Darren and Rochelle Marx, but unexpectedly golf became the perfect fit for the competitive girl who is still constantly trying to one up her brothers Cody and Shaye.
Darren took his three children to the driving range for the first time roughly a decade ago to pick up the game himself ahead of a corporate day and the boys quickly become hooked. Keeley on the other hand wanted nothing to do with it.
“I was like ‘I’m good thanks. Got no interest. I’m really into netball’,” she recalled.
During the following months she was a spectator as Cody and Shaye learned golf and soon enough, Keeley was tired of not being a part of the action.
“I was like ‘fine give me a go’. I was bored of going to my brothers’ lessons,” she said.
“I could hit the golf ball and fast forward a bit and I’m playing in kids comps and against my brothers. Eventually beating my dad when I was about 10 and beating my brothers.”
The Marx family rivalry has been a key source of motivation throughout Keeley’s golfing journey.
The Heritage Golf and Country Club member is quick to remind her parents and her siblings – who frequently take up caddying duties for her – that she is the sole world champion in the family after she triumphed at the IMG Academy Junior World Championship in San Diego last July.
Her growing list of achievements also includes captaining her state to victory at the Australian Interstate Teams Matches last year, but her feats off the course likely have the greatest standing within the game.
Keeley is an ambassador for the charity Challenge – supporting kids with cancer and she was a pioneer of #DoingItForJarrod to raise funds in honour of the late Australian golfer Jarrod Lyle who passed away of leukemia in 2018.
“I didn’t know Jarrod personally, but I read about his story, and I wanted to find out more,” she said.
“I wanted to help the people that loved him in any means possible and I decided to create #DoingItForJarrod which led to the PGA jumping onto it. It was an unbelievable thing to know that his legacy would live on if people took part in Yellow Days and #DoingItForJarrod.
“I go to charity balls and raise money through social media for Yellow Days and through golf clubs. It’s unreal to be a part of it. My work with Challenge is a big motivator to prove that golf isn’t the biggest thing in the world. It’s a big thing to be able to say that I help other people and you meet so many great people along the way.”
Keeley’s passion for caring for other people within golf developed from a young age as she followed the lead of her heroes.
Major champion Lexi Thompson was her idol growing up, but it was the relationship she struck up with another major winner in Morgan Pressel at the Vic Open that has had the greatest impact on her.
“She is just an amazing person,” Keeley said.
“Being able to walk down the side of the fairways and her interacting with you, wanting to know about you and your golf, and how your development is going. Coming to watch her a few years later and her saying ‘hi Keeley’, it was unbelievable to know that she took that interaction, remembered me and started following me on Instagram.
“You don’t get that. She actually truly cares about her fans, and she still knows me to this day. She follows me on social media and occasionally reaches out. It’s just amazing.”
Now, it is Keeley’s time to step into the spotlight.
This weekend will be her first appearance in The Athena and the ground-breaking all-female event in Melbourne marks the beginning of a jam-packed schedule.
Next week she is off to Singapore to represent Australia for the first time at the Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific alongside fellow The Athena competitors Justice Bosio and Caitlin Peirce.
Then later this year she will travel to the United States to commence her collegiate golf career with Iowa State, but before those foreign adventures she wants to come away with the trophy won by Kristalle Blum and Kirsten Rudgeley in The Athena’s first two editions.
“I’m most looking forward to the bunker challenge. I love a good trick shot,” Keeley said.
“I drag my brothers out a fair bit to either video or join in. Especially during lockdowns, it was unbelievably fun to take golf into the backyard.”
The Athena is on Saturday and Sunday at Sandy Golf Links and is live on Fox Sports and Kayo Sports. For more information click here.