My first memorable junior golf moment takes me back to June 2007 - the summer before my sophomore year of high school. This tournament was my 1st AJGA open event. I was so excited and I wanted my equipment to be in perfect condition for the week of the tournament so I had all of my clubs regripped the week before. On hole #1 - the rain comes – a torrential downpour that did not let up and quickly my new grips were soaked. I have never owned a pair of rain gloves at this point (that has changed) and I cannot hold onto my clubs AT ALL. In fact, the rain seemed to have caused an oily substance to seep out of the grips. I tried to grip down, hold the shaft, wrap a towel around the grip, not wear my glove, swing easy - nothing worked. My golf clubs sailed into trees, down the fairway, you name it – the clubs would not stay in my hands. Finally, I tap in on the 18th hole with a humbling 105 and my highest competitive round of golf - not how I pictured my first AJGA open event. The heavy rains caused the cancellation of the tournament the next day after 9 holes but I did come back and card a 40 for my last nine holes on a flooded course with new grips.
Lessons learned from this experience:
• Never take yourself and situations too seriously – learn to laugh :)
• Always be prepared
• Never, ever give up!
A second memorable moment shows a more positive side of my golf achievements. Not even a year later after the 105 debacle, my high school golf team qualified for the state tournament for the first time. In front of family and friends we are able to represent not only our high school but also our hometown at the Texas State Championship. My team posted a top 5 finish and I won the Texas 5A Girls State Championship as a sophomore. It was also my first time to ever shoot in the 60’s in a competitive event. I know that the perseverance I had to make it through the 105 and then get back to work played a major role in elevating my game to the next level. There were so many moments in junior golf that have shaped me into the golfer I am today. These memories were formed through both high and low moments but all of them include great friends, coaches and family – I am very thankful for my junior golf experience and I see how important the process and my response to those experiences have helped shape me into the golfer and person I am today.
College Golf Camps would have been a great opportunity for me had they been available. Connecting with college coaches was hard at first especially since I did not qualify for the bigger junior golf tournaments until the summer before my junior year of high school. Coaches want to see junior golfers play and through trial and error we learned ways that worked for our family. College golf camps give junior golfers today that connection and starting point without the trial and error. Having a way to network with over 18 different college coaches at one camp is a huge asset during those critical years. In addition, the ability to play with competitive female golfers from around the country and to assess and compare my current skills with theirs would have been a very useful and motivational tool for me as well.
As I write this blog, I am actually in Mesa, AZ preparing for my first two tournaments on the Symetra Tour. I will be competing in Arizona this week and California next week. I am very excited to get the season started! After these two events, I will be back home in Texas before the next swing of events in Florida during March. Follow along for results and more blogs to come in the future!