LPGA-Part 1

April 17, 2011

After graduation, I spent the summer playing in tournaments and working on my golf game.  I was given an exemption into an LPGA tourney played at Bethesda CC.  I played well that week and was encouraged by a friend who was on tour to give the LPGA qualifying a try.  My plans originally were to try to play some mini-tour events to get myself ready.  She said the best place to gain experience would be at the Q-School, so on her advice, I signed up and was on my way.  I made it through the first stage on the number and then was off to the finals in Houston.  I still remember the tiny little rental car, my brand new Jones golf bag with my name on it and trying to find a guy named “Coffee Joe” to hook me up with a caddy.  I was so naive and young!  I played great the first 3 rounds and was in a tie for 5th place going into the last day.  I slept for about 5 minutes that night knowing that if I showed up to the tee I would be playing on the LPGA!  Well I made it to the tee and that was the highlight of that day.  I choked my guts out but still had enough of a cushion and got my LPGA card!

To say I was a rookie was an understatement.  I was so intimidated, I didn’t go into the locker room for the first 3 events.  I also didn’t break 80 until Hawaii where it rained so much, we were forced to play only 16 holes.  My first made cut came in Tucson and I think I made a whopping $369.  I wish I had saved that check but at the time we needed the money and it was deposited immediately into the bank.  I was gaining valuable experience though and enjoyed life on tour.  I didn’t play that great, but was feeling more comfortable as the year wore on.  In late summer of that year, I began dating my future husband who was caddying for another player.  Our first date was to a Baltimore Orioles game (he remembers Nolan Ryan was pitching but I don’t)  during that same LPGA event in Bethesda.  After a week off, I was still aglow about my new man, and came to Rhode Island for the Ocean State Open.  Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner!!  I had won an LPGA event in my rookie year!  As I look back now, I am amazed. I had a great week and I won.  I thought that’s how the tour worked.  I would find in the coming years how wrong I was.

My second year on tour was a struggle.  I played terrible throughout the year.  I was feeling pressure financially.  I had no real direction with my game.  Because of my win, I earned a 5 year exemption.  Thank Goodness!  Without that win, who knows what direction my life would have taken.  I often think of the choices that we make-however small- and how they affect the rest of our lives.  What if I never started playing golf?  What if I chose James Madison instead of Longwood?  What if I had skipped the event in Rhode Island?  What if I had done a cannonball instead of a dive? But I did win that tournament and I still had an LPGA card and I was not going to go down without a fight! That Fall I hooked up with a couple of guys from Pennsylvania who sponsored me and helped with my finances. I also started taking lessons from DeDe Owens.  By my third year on tour, my game had turned around and I was on my way to a pretty successful 19 year run.

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