The Drive to Compete | Why Golf Works For the Competitive Female Athlete
Growing up, I played every sport there was. Soccer, basketball, tennis, golf – you name it. I was part of traveling basketball and soccer teams, so I have fond memories of rushing from the basketball court to the soccer field every weekend.
It was around this time that my dad introduced me to golf. I had potential, but my packed schedule and my love for running and jumping didn’t allow for a 4-hour round. Not to mention, I was a competitive athlete. Golf seemed slow and boring.
Despite my limited interest, one summer when I was 12 my dad entered me in a golf tournament just for fun. We had zero expectations. In fact, I still didn’t think golf was a sport. Four hours of walking? Where is the running and jumping? If I hit a bad shot, how could I hustle back on defense to redeem myself?
It’s safe to say I struggled. Golf required mental strength and composure that I hadn’t yet developed as a young athlete. However, after playing in a few tournaments and not performing well my competitive drive took over. I wanted to get better. I wanted to win. That’s when I realized golf was its own type of competitive beast.
Slowly I continued to get better with range sessions, lessons and short-game practice. Freshman year of high school I made varsity soccer, basketball and golf. I was a whopping 5’3”, small but feisty, with no future in the WNBA or professional soccer. I juggled them all, but golf seemed like an awesome opportunity for me to go on and do something bigger - in college and perhaps even professionally.
I started to travel around with my dad to play in national tournaments and AJGA events at the age of 15. I quickly needed to be tournament strong and improve my game if I wanted to play collegiately.
With that dedication, I found myself in the winner’s circle after a lot of hard work. Five hours of practice every day after high school, workouts to get me stronger and a lot of mirror work to make sure I was practicing the correct thing. After three AJGA wins and some runner ups, I was being invited to invitationals around the nation as the 9th ranked junior golfer. I was being recruited by top colleges.
Junior year I committed to play golf at “The” Ohio State University, which was ranked No. 10 in the nation at the time. As a senior I continued to improve and started getting stronger for college in a year when I was hit hard with a mysterious illness. My liver started to fail, and doctors couldn’t figure out why. I was unable to play the sport that I loved, let alone go to school and live life as a normal high school senior year.
I was so sick that I was bed-ridden for 6 months, simply trying to find the strength to keep up with schoolwork. After being diagnosed with an autoimmune liver disease and being pumped with medication and prednisone I slowly started to see improvement.
How was I going to play in The Annika Invitational, a top AJGA tournament in three weeks, having not touched a club for months?
When I stepped foot on the first tee and heard the starter call my name, I felt at peace, no longer nervous. I looked around and was so thankful to be there on a beautiful golf course playing the sport that I loved. The sport that I couldn’t play for six months. All of my fear went away and all that I felt was gratitude. Gratitude for the game of golf, for my health and for the ability to compete again.
Although I was still on medication, and would be for the next 5 years, I was fortunate enough to play golf my freshman year at Ohio State as planned. By grace I went onto be Big Ten Freshman of the Year, before transferring to The University of Arizona to play my final 3 years. At Arizona we were always in the top 5 in the Nation, won PAC-12s and had multiple tournament wins. I am forever thankful for the opportunity to get to play a sport I love while getting an education and experiences/memories that will last a lifetime. Golf will forever be a part of my life.
At Arizona I studied Business Marketing. My classes focused on presentations and business communications classes in order to prepare us for jobs outside of college. My dream was to either play professionally or to work for a large sports company. Somehow, I knew golf was going to help me be successful down the road.
As an athlete at Arizona, I was fortunate enough to interview for an internship at Nike going into my senior year. It was a competitive interview pool, but I was offered the internship for the summer at Nike’s HQ in Beaverton, Oregon. I made so many connections and was able to establish myself within the company, where I was offered a marketing position once I graduated. This was my dream job out of college and I could not pass up that opportunity.
I then went on to teach golf for 2 years where I was able to help women, junior golfers and men with their games by teaching them everything that I had learned along the way. After this chapter in my life, I knew I wanted to get back into the world of golf marketing. After working for a high-end golf apparel brand, I had the awesome opportunity to join Team TaylorMade HQ and take a position in the brand marketing department.
It was my dream job. I’m still in awe as I think back on the journey that brought me here today. It’s my goal to share my golf experience with women around the world and help all golfers (men and women) get more joy from playing the game.
As a junior golfer I looked up to the LPGA stars. I wanted to play the same equipment they played, to wear the same brands. I remember buying the women’s set from a brand that was played by one of the game’s most admired at the time. But as my game evolved and I got stronger, I needed to get clubs that fit me properly.
As a top junior golfer, I was privileged enough to access fitting centers of some the biggest brands to get fit properly into clubs specific to me and my swing. I have always respected TaylorMade and their commitment to juniors and providing custom equipment. I was on the range at a tournament and the TaylorMade rep came up to me, asked me what driver I was currently in, and then handed me a R11. I took a few swings and saw the ball flight and launch monitor numbers. That was enough for me.
I was shocked by this service and still haven’t forgot it to this day. TaylorMade in particular does an amazing job of servicing equipment to the need of an individual, whether they are a beginner or a scratch golfer. There are plenty of options for women when choosing equipment through TaylorMade because of the focus on customization. No two swings are the same. No two journeys are the same, and I’m proud that TaylorMade embraces that.
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