A Letter to 2021 and onward to 2022 — Interview: Erika Larkin, PGA — Must-click women’s golf links
The IX: Golf Thursday with Addie Parker, December 23, 2021
Two years ago, around this time, one of my aunts told me that each year she chooses a word that she uses to shape her life in the upcoming year. After the chaos that was 2020, I decided to give it a try and to pick a word that I wanted my 2021 to embody–that word was fulfillment.
(Editor’s note: The IX will be off next week.)
When I began this year I had a clear plan of how I wanted it to go. I was going to finish my senior year of college virtually. I wasn’t going to walk at graduation because I didn’t care enough to do so. I was going to go to grad school in New York City and live in Brooklyn even if it meant having an hour-long commute. And I was finally going to sell my golf clubs because I saw no use for them other than to make a decent penny — they were merely sitting in the garage of my parents’ house collecting dust, someone else could enjoy them.
Absolutely none of that happened.
I completed most of my degree virtually, but I went back in April to have a final hurrah with my friends, and I’m happy I did! I felt like an 18-year-old me again stepping on campus for the very first time. Agreeing to every kind of adventure on random weekdays just for the sake of doing something in our small college town. Those nights always make the best memories.
My mom talked me into walking across the stage — something I am also so grateful for doing. I got to sit next to my freshman year roommate and we got our degrees together, with our families cheering from the stands.
In April of this year, exactly one month before graduating, I got rejected from grad school. I had only applied to one program because I was so sure that it was THE one. It was devastating to say the least. Not to get into the nitty gritty but since my junior year of high school I had studied to become an I/O Psychologist, and with one letter that dream was abruptly placed on the back burner.
It was this weird feeling, one that I couldn’t name. I had friends getting jobs and acceptances into law school, grad school, medical school, you name it. Of course I was beyond happy that my friends were getting the things they wanted — if they win, I win! But that didn’t change how I felt. Inadequate.
It was a rare period of insecurity for me, I doubted my skills, my intelligence, and my perfectly (which turned out to be not-so perfect) crafted post-grad plan.
On the first day of June my brother gave me a proposal. For nine weeks, he asked me to document, through social media, his summer golf camps. I’d do anything for my brother so of course I said yes. And I began this journey…
I’ve mentioned before that after my senior year of high school in 2017 I quit competitive golf. I had played occasionally, but after my dad passed away in 2019 golf became a sore spot for me. Golf was the biggest thing that linked us, and being on a course felt weird without him. Ironically enough, his last moments on earth were on a golf course — very poetic, right? So for about two years, I spent no time around the sport. I didn’t watch it on TV, I unfollowed golf accounts, I didn’t even talk about it with my brother.
But suddenly I returned to it all. I dug up old golf clothes, ordered new ones, began watching swing analysis videos, and broke out the psychology textbooks I accumulated over the last four years to piece together some kind of wicked version of my own teaching philosophy.
The summer flew by. Each week I fell more in love with what my brother Gavin and his partner Corey are doing. I haven’t been completely out of the loop with their junior golf academy but I hadn’t given it my full attention nor intention — until now. I was always there if they needed an extra hand, but now I was a part of the machine! They asked my opinion on things, gave me feedback, and gave me some autonomy when it came to coaching. I wasn’t just a reinforcement for them, they saw me as an asset.
That feeling of inadequacy dissipated. I was building relationships with our students and their parents and I felt like I belonged, and I’m so grateful for them. These kids trusted me and wanted my advice. They gave me the confidence I needed, and drove me to make the decision to stay.
In August, the summer golf season was winding down, and I got connected with none other than Sarah Kellam. She and I talked on the phone (thanks to our friend Taylor Olson) about golf and writing and my future plans, and I made a friend in just 20 minutes!
Jump ahead to October, Sarah sends me an email about taking up a writing position for a newsletter. Sarah connected me with Howard, and you all know the rest.
I had no idea what this year was going to hold for me, but I am so grateful for the lessons I have learned. I have grown into so many strengths I didn’t even know I had and I was able to find fulfillment in places I never thought to look before.
I am grateful that my first love, golf, was brought back to me in a way that has surprised me. I am a coach and a writer and I get to share my knowledge with so many beautiful people and I can’t wait to expand that network in 2022.
My word for next year is intention. Meaning that I wish to do anything and everything with all of myself. Even when I feel like doing nothing, I want to be sure that eventually my energy will go towards something else.
Finally, I want to thank my fellow The IX writers, you all are my heroes and I’m so lucky to be a part of such a cool group of amazing humans. Thank you to our readers, you read my chaotic thoughts every week and make this fun for me. Thank you to my friends and family for believing in me and for getting me to where I am at this moment, it takes a village and y’all are the best of the best.
I wish you all happy and safe holidays. Be kind, be generous, and spread love.
See you in 2022, golf fans!
“Take your time, but don’t waste your time.” – Lupita Nyong’o
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This week in women’s golf
If you have links you wish to share, sources for golf news, or want to talk about anything at all, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org ! Discussion of any kind is always welcomed 🙂
I didn’t watch much of the PNC Championship but the highlights had me feeling all the feels! I was definitely rooting for Team Woods but Team Korda was just as remarkable, and we get to see just how much of a good person Nelly Korda is. We know she’s a great player but these moments will make you smile extra bright!
An Ohio instructor, Denise Vermillion, wins the Sandy LaBauve Spirit Award! The award is named after the founder of the USGA Girl Golf program, and it recognizes an individual who goes above and beyond to inspire and encourage girls through golf! Read Denise’s story and see the list of nominees.
Laila Vu writes her own story about her journey to the LPGA as a recent grad of Q-School. I love personal narrative pieces and how each of us, no matter what level, can go through the same ups and downs with golf. This is one of my favorite reads of the week.
This interview from Beth Ann Nichols and LPGA founder Shirley Spork provided a most treasured conversation!
PGA Tour: QBE Shootout prize money 2021. More money talk…Beth Ann Nichols breaks down the prize money for PGA and LPGA players from the QBE shootout.
Ladies European Tour (LET) News
Some golf fans have strong emotions about golf not getting the recognition it deserves…European Solheim Cup Team And Catriona Matthew Miss Out On Sports Personality Of The Year Awards. What do you think?
The LET Q-School final round concluded, here’s the recap of who finished in the top-20, earning their playing cards for 2022!
College Golf News
The East Coast Women’s Professional Golf Tour will debut in January as another mini-tour option for aspiring LPGA players. Golf dad creates women’s developmental tour to debut in January. How exciting!!!!
Here’s something to think about, if you can walk and carry your bag, do so! It may help out your local greenskeepers.
Golf Monthly breaks down their 10 Golfers To Watch In 2022 list! This is a pretty solid list and I don’t have any alterations, do you?
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Five at The IX: Interview with teaching pro Erika Larkin
I was so excited to talk to Erika Larkin this week for the last Five at The IX of 2021! Erika was ranked as the number one instructor in the state of Virginia and in the top 50 of best instructors in the country by Golf Digest for this year. She has an incredible story and teaching philosophy, and deserves every bit of the recognition she has received and will continue to receive.
Women in golf instruction play such a massive role in the industry and we need to continue to advocate for them and give them our support. You can do so for Erika by following her on Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube, as well as buying her book “A True Swing” and reading my interview with her below. Enjoy!
Q: “From Queens to Greens”, can you share your golf journey with our readers? What brought you from Queens, NY to Virginia?
EL: The one and only driving range in Queens (Alley Pond) was usually an hour wait just to get a spot. Then when you practice there would be a gallery of people waiting for your spot. Apparently it is still ranked as the busiest range in the country ! Typical round of golf at local course was 6 hours long and this 18 hole facility would do 100k rounds a year. Unheard of! I would get paired up as a single with 3 adults who would either grill me with questions or wouldn’t speak any English . Either way it was always an adventure and a lesson in patience and test of my desire to play. Never hit of a grass driving range until I was about 15.
When it comes to your teaching philosophy, who has been a mentor that has molded your instruction style?
Are there any peers that also motivate you?
My mentor/coach as a teenager, Frank Darby, recommended books for me to read. They shaped my ideas about the golf swing/playing–in particular Ernest Jones. I have spent time shadowing some great coaches but never worked directly for any top teachers. I was always on my own, figuring it out.
Plenty of students have shaped my coaching because when I would get stumped it was back to the bookshelf !
You have been named the top instructor in the state of Virginia as well as a top 50 instructor in the country by Golf Digest. After achieving such accolades, how do you refocus yourself and your goals?
I’m enjoying the moment for sure and know that I need to set new goals. By all means I want to keep working hard to climb that top 50 list…and that will happen if I am just genuine about my coaching and social media.
Working closer with my partners/vendors who support me and using their platforms better to spread my message is key. I want to reach more golfers and I’m trying to think bigger all the time. I want to write another book. I want to get creative with my brand new learning center at Creighton Farms. I’ve got some vague ideas on collaborations and events I want to do in the future but need to get more specific. I’m meditating on it all and something feels right I will act on it!
What’s something that you learned about golf or teaching that you wish you had known when you first started?
I wish I knew how to help people build and train speed better years ago. We know so much more now about biomechanics and also training methods. We have ways of measuring and tracking speed gains, equipment and tools and fitness strategies to help. It would have been nice to know all this 20 years ago for my students and my own game!
With the new year approaching, what is a highlight from this year’s golfing season? What do you want to see more of in 2022, especially for women’s golf?
A highlight this year was coaching a player who qualified for the PGA Championship. His name is Larkin Gross (no relation) … but to be inside the ropes at a major was so awesome and hoping to return in that capacity in the future.
I’m excited about participating as a speaker/coach in the first all-women’s “Desert Classic” golf tournament. Collaborating with others like my friend Tori Totlis ( who is leading the charge and running this event ) to help re-invent and equalize/normalize the offerings for women’s golf is something I’d like to do more off in the future!
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