An Ode to Junior Golf — NLI Recap — Must-click women’s golf links
The IX: Golf Thursday with Addie Parker, November 18, 2021
My junior golf days have been behind me for a long time. Despite the fact that I’m only 22, those days, simultaneously, feel like they occurred a lifetime ago and like they just happened yesterday.
One of the greatest experiences I had as a junior golfer was being able to compete in the International Children’s Games in Lake Macquarie, Australia in December 2014. For 21 days, five other girls and I got to compete against other teenagers from 32 different countries. I can’t even remember what I shot or how I placed in the tournament, but I remember the adventures I had. Hanging out with my new golf friends from Singapore, trying Vegemite on a dare, and getting kicked in the jaw by a baby kangaroo (which still bothers me if I chew too much gum).
So many of my junior golf career highlights have more to do with the fun I had and the friends I made, being “good” was an added bonus. It wasn’t until after Australia that I began thinking about collegiate golf.
Let me give you a quick rundown of my golfing career timeline: I started golfing at age three, by seven I was competing in tournaments, at 13 I made my high school team, and I was 15 playing in Australia. I had been playing competitively for almost a decade before I had given college golf a thought. But to be completely honest, I wasn’t all that great until then. By 16, my junior year of high school, I was shooting 70s pretty consistently and soon after, I started carding sub-par rounds.
The summer before my senior year of high school was a pivotal moment in my golfing story. I decided, on my own accord, that I didn’t want to play college golf. Ironically, I was on a 14-day college tour with my parents when I decided this (not my best timing). It was a sore spot for a while, but no matter the opinions of my parents and my coaches, golf had stopped being fun.
Golf had morphed into something I had to do, rather than something I wanted to do. There was more pressure, more attention, and with more attention comes more criticism. I began comparing myself to what others in my graduating class were doing and doubt crept in. I started believing that I wasn’t as good as everyone around me was telling me.
Two weeks after my college tour, I had the honor of playing on the Virginia Poindexter Cup Team. The Poindexter Cup is a two-day annual match between 16 junior girls from Maryland and Virginia (eight from each state). Round one is a four ball match play, and round two is single matches. The girls on the team that year I had known for years, and for a lot of them, they had played in the cup more than once. I was a rookie, who missed the practice round, and broke her driver in a tournament earlier in the week. Nevertheless, I showed up, I played (horribly), and I can recall that it was the first time in a long time that I had fun playing golf. But my biggest takeaway from that weekend had been that I was by far, the worst golfer in the group. At the time, I was completely intimidated by that realization. But now, the psychology degree in me, sees that experience as a moment of growth, or “character development” if you will. For two days, I was surrounded by my peers, who were better than me, knew more about golf than me, and played more than me. I’m pretty sure out of the 16 of us, I was the only one that didn’t go on to play college golf. I needed that experience. I needed to be reminded that all of my effort meant nothing without intention. It was the confirmation I needed to break up with golf.
When my dad put a golf club in my hands at age three, he didn’t do it because he thought I’d become a prodigy, he did it because he needed a new Sunday afternoon partner. Fun was always at the heart of my golf game. I perfectly curated outfits before heading to the course. I always wanted to decorate my golf balls with flowers to identify them. And when I finally got an iPod nano for Christmas (talk about a throwback), I couldn’t wait to listen to music while practicing.
For that 18-month period between Australia and basically quitting, I spent more time on a golf course than anywhere else. I was going to a nutritionist, a personal trainer, and had lessons with my swing coach five times a week. I’m not going to pretend that I hated every second, or that my parents pushed me too hard, because truth be told, they did what any good parents would do! They poured their resources and energy into something they believed I wanted. But I think we all overestimated my “dream”.
Sometimes it’s okay to just be good at something. Read that sentence again.
There’s a certain pressure to find what makes you great, or if you’re good at a hobby you need to find a way to make money off of it. But I think that’s a lousy way to live. If you turn everything you do for fun into work, what’s left for you?
If you’re a junior golfer or know a junior golfer I want you to really comprehend this statistic I’m about to share with you. According to Next College Student Athlete (NCSA), out of 78,000 high school golfers, only 2.8% (roughly 2,184) of them go on to play Division I.
This isn’t meant to scare you! If your dream is to play college golf you have every right to do so. Work hard, train ugly, spend more time PLAYING than on the range, learn from your losses, but deposit moments of joy in your process.
Last week, some major names in the junior golf circuit signed their letters of intention to several schools (be sure to scroll down to Five at The IX). It’s an exciting time and I can’t wait to see the contributions they go on to make at their respective colleges! Women’s golf is in great hands with so many of these players, and as a golf fan I’m already hype to see what the 2022 season has to offer.
“To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe.” –Anatole France
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This week in women’s golf
If you have any links, sources for golf news, or want to talk about anything email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
GolfWeek has composed a list of who has signed so far for men and women.
More on who has signed, plus some words from coaches!
Last week, I wrote about the Pelican Women’s Champion. Here’s a recap of a pretty dramatic ending to an exciting second to last event of the LPGA season. Who is having a better year than Nelly Korda????
Other Golf News:
NBC Golf has a new team member in Kathryn Tappen! She’s a seasoned vet when it comes to reporting, so this is exciting. Golf fans, we are lucky to have her!
Diversity in golf goes beyond gender, golf is overwhelmingly dominated by white players. The World Golf Hall of Fame has created the Charlie Sifford Award. Pioneers like Renne Powell have changed the game for so many black women and women of color and as a black woman in golf, I am grateful for her. She is being recognized as the first ever recipient of the award.
Last LPGA Event of the Season:
The last LPGA event of the season is upon us, here’s what you need to know about the CME Group Tour Championship, including it’s background, players to watch, and a summary of coverage.
The Golf Channel summarizes this week in, including coverage of the LPGA, PGA, and European Tour and their coverage times.
Jin Young Ko didn’t want to play on the LPGA tour because she was too far from her family; sadly her grandmother passed away in March of this year. She opens up to Golf Digest about her journey on the LPGA and how her grief motivated her.
Things You Should Care About:
I love women’s golf because it’s realistic golf. Distance has almost consumed the golf world. World no.1 Nelly Korda shares why she doesn’t “chase” hitting the ball far.
Symetra Tour player Hannah Gregg opens up about the financial burden of being a professional golfer. This is a must-read because it further emphasizes on the gender disparity and sexism in golf, and why so many women golfers rely on social media for deals and partnerships.
Five at The IX: NLI Recap
As I mentioned above, last week players began signing their letters of intent. This week’s Five at The IX is recapping where some of the best ranked juniors have signed. I have curated a list using the AJGA rankings and this list from the Golf Channel to highlight these amazing young women!
Megha Ganne, Rank: No. 1, School: Stanford
One of the biggest announcements to come out of last week was the number one ranked junior, Megha Ganne signed with the top ranked team Stanford! This was exciting for a multitude of reasons, but the main thing for me has been watching Ganne’s rise and how graceful she has been. She seems like she has a good head on her shoulders and Stanford is lucky to have her!
Yunxuan (Michelle) Zhang, Rank: No. 5, School: Southern Methodist
In 2021 alone, Zhang has had four top-15 finishes! When looking at her AJGA record, there’s only one word to describe her and that’s consistent. SMU has a gem on their hands.
Amari Avery, Rank: No. 6, University of Southern California
Avery is a four-time AJGA All-American and will join the Trojans in the spring! She has a formidable resume with countless tournament wins and several award recognitions, in 2013, Avery was featured in the Netflix documentary “The Short Game”.
Paula Schulz-Hanssen, WAGR Rank: No. 19, Arizona State
Schulz-Hanssen is a star from Germany. She’s not ranked by the AJGA, but she sits inside the top 20 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR). ASU has brought in the top signing class this year and has a beyond extremely impressive roster!
Kelly Xu, Rank: No. 9, Stanford
Xu joins Ganne at Stanford, putting the Cardinal in second behind ASU for this season’s signing class. Xu is a three-time Rolex AJGA All-American, and she won the age 7-9 division at the 2015 Drive, Chip, and Putt Finals.
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