Chasing my dreams one shot at a time
I am thrilled to be writing you from my first LPGA start of the year in Hawaii!
While counting down the days to this trip, I have stayed competitive by playing five local Cactus Tour events and three LPGA Monday qualifiers. I am very happy with my game. My scoring average in these eighteen rounds of 2018 is 70.44. Although I didn't advance through any of the Monday qualifiers, I finished third in all three (only two players qualify). This consistency shows how ready I am for my upcoming starts.
Speaking of which, the Lotte Championship is the first of four consecutive LPGA events. I am definitely in the field this week (Hawaii) and the fourth week (Dallas). I will Monday qualify for the second and third weeks (LA and San Francisco). Solid play in these events will improve my status in the reshuffle, so my schedule after Dallas is TBD.
I’ve diligently worked on the off-season objectives I set last October. I have been improving ownership and understanding of my golf swing, consistently practicing my putting and chipping fundamentals, and dialing in iron and wedge distance control. With all the time in one place, I’ve been able to make strength and speed gains in the gym at Combine Performance- including adding three inches to my vertical! This does two things for my golf game: 1) generates more force using the ground in my swing and 2) allows me to make an impressive celebratory leap when I win my first major 😃
I have also turned my attention to course management this off-season. I attended a seminar that provides a standardized approach to on-course decisions based on tour statistics. It might sound complicated, but it makes life easier by removing guess work and emotion from my club and target selection process. It’s like choosing to play by the book in blackjack versus randomly hitting on seventeen because you happen to “have a feeling.” The risk might reward you every once in a while, but the measured approach pays off in the long run. A highlight from this spring was having PGA Tour player Joel Dahmen caddie for me in a Cactus Tour round. He has been using this system for several years and helped me put it into action for the first time. We fired three under that day and I finished eleven under for the three rounds. I think playing with discipline is going to be a massive key to saving a shot every round or so- and if anybody knows how much one shot can mean, its me.
I am proud to be representing Crucial by Micron, TR Toppers, and Snake River Farms on tour again this year. In the spirit of my renewed partnership with prime meat company Snake River Farms, I thought I would do something new and share a bit about my own nutritional preferences. I am VERY far from being a nutrition expert and I’m certainly not pretending to be one here, but I do know what keeps me feeling strong and energized as an active athlete.
Post work out:
I usually practice and play throughout the mid part of the day, so I don’t always take the time to sit down and have lunch. I am all about on course snacks.
As you can probably tell by now, my main objectives with food are to eat whole foods, avoid sugar, get plenty of protein, fiber, and healthy fats, and opt for slow burning carbohydrates over white, starchy ones. Given my high activity level, I have never counted calories and eat as often and as much as I need to feel full.
This is not to say I am a robot. I believe in the 80/20 balance - eat well 80 percent of the time and treat yo’self 20 percent. A great golf tournament deserves to be celebrated with dessert - and Tuesdays deserve to be celebrated with tacos.
Like I said, I’m not an expert and don’t play one on the internet. This is just what I’ve found works for me. If you have any questions… I invite you to ask someone else, preferably a nutritionist 😊.
Thank you all for following along. Keep your eyes on the upcoming LPGA leaderboards and I’ll be back with you in a month!
Happy New Year!
Most of you probably know by now the story of my close call at Q-School in December. After 90 holes of golf, I fell just one shot shy of earning a full LPGA Tour card- for the second year in a row. Bret Lasky from LPGATour.com wrote a nice detailed look at the ups and downs of my week here: http://www.lpga.com/news/sheils-overcomes-heartbreak.
Everybody’s first question upon hearing Q-School results is, “So... what does that mean?” I am better prepared to answer that question now that I am no longer a bewildered rookie 😃. Below is a look at the 2018 LPGA schedule. By my best estimates, events highlighted in pink are weeks I will probably play. Events highlighted in blue mean I have a 50/50 chance of playing. All other events without color from the ANA Inspiration forward are possible for me to play if I work my way up the money list.
With Q-School behind me and a fresh year ahead, I have been thrilled to throw myself back into the process of getting better each day. This looks like meditation in the morning; strength/mobility/stability work in the gym; and hours of practice both on and off the course at Alta Mesa GC. I look back often on the notes I made at the end of last season as a guide to where I should sped my practice time. Semi-frequent lessons with swing coach Gabe Hjertstedt and putting coach Todd Kolb keep me moving in the right direction.
I got my first taste of 2018 competition on the Cactus Tour last week. My results (74-73-72, 9th/39) showed the rust that a relaxed December were bound to bring. However, as always, the tournament experience was a valuable teacher. I then flew down to Nassau, Bahamas to try my hand at Monday qualifying into the LPGA season opener. I shot a sharp, bogey-free five under but finished third on a day when only the top two players out of thirty earned a place in the event. Such is the nature of the beast.
I had an incredible time in the Bahamas thanks to the help of a few very kind people. After meeting briefly at the same qualifier in 2017, Paradise Island local Garth Groat didn’t hesitate this year to help find me private housing with another club member, Ray Brown. Ray welcomed my travel buddy Samantha Troyanovich and me into his condo for our stay on Paradise Island, greatly reducing the cost (and therefore stress!) of an otherwise pricey gamble in a Monday qualifier. Garth even stepped in to carry my bag for nine holes of my practice round when flight troubles delayed my scheduled caddie. The generosity of individuals like Garth and Ray never cease to amaze me as I travel the world.
I came across a quote that I have been pondering for the better part of this month. It reads,
“Today, give yourself the most simple and doable of tasks: Just don’t make stuff worse. Whatever happens, don’t add angry or negative emotions to the equation. Don’t react for the sake of reacting. Leave it as it is. Stop digging. Then plan your way out.”
You have probably heard me talk before about controlling my reactions to outcomes rather than letting the outcomes control me, but I really like the simplicity of the task given here. Just don’t make stuff worse. After hitting a bad shot- just don’t make it worse! After coming up a shot shy of a goal- just don’t make it worse! That isn’t so hard to do, right? 😃 The faster I accept the moment as is, the faster I can get on my way to something better. I will keep this in my back pocket as a long term goal for 2018.
The month of February has the LPGA overseas and the Symetra Tour with an empty schedule, so I will be gathering more tournament experience on the local Cactus Tour and enjoying time home in Arizona. You can keep up with my schedule on the “Follow” page of my website.
Much love to all!
It is about time I posted a 2017 review!
I am happy with my LPGA rookie campaign for three reasons: I had a blast, I learned a ton, and I improved.
This season was full of highs and lows, but overall it was a lot of fun. I stayed with a dozen wonderful host families, made new friends, and travelled to the Southern Hemisphere for the first time. There were immaculate golf courses, cool new cities, and real, live galleries with actual human beings at events. I think what I found most fun, though, was being surrounded every week by 143 of the world’s most talented, hard working, and passionate women. Having the opportunity to play the game at its very top level is such an amazing, exciting honor.
Figuring things out
I learned a great deal about what it takes to for me to succeed. I learned the importance of dialing in my distance control, practice strategies for improving putting consistency, mental strategies for improving chipping, the need to have clarity and ownership around my golf swing week in and week out, and the importance of keeping detailed statistics. I also simply learned over time how to be comfortable and trust my game on the bigger stage.
This long stretch between my return from New Zealand and Q-School has allowed me the time necessary to focus on how I can improve. I’ve been structuring my off-season practice around what I learned and improving the statistically weak areas of my game. For a few examples: I’m doing a consistent set of fundamental putting drills and checking in with my coach more often to stay out ahead of my negative tendencies on the greens. I’ve worked to better understand the tendencies in my swing, what causes certain ball fights, and how to straighten things out quicker. I have also dedicated far more time to distance wedge practices because I know this is my key scoring area.
On the way up
The thing I am most proud of from this season is my improvement over time. Those of you who followed closely know this was evident in my scores. I played in a total of thirteen events; my scoring average in the first seven was 73.8 and 71.3 in the last six.
I love the Japanese proverb, “Fall seven, rise eight.” I didn’t let early failures beat and keep me down. I learned from them, got up, and was better for it in the long run.
Back to (Q) School
I finished my LPGA rookie season at 144 on the money list. By finishing in the top 150, I did guarantee myself some LPGA status for next year. This is important because it gives me the ability to reshuffle up on the priority list if I do get into an event and make money. However, it is likely only good enough to guarantee a start in one or two events, so I will be returning to Daytona Beach for the final stage of Q-School Nov 29-Dec 3 in attempt to earn full playing privileges for 2018.
To stay sharp for final stage, I have played a few small events. I shot 73-68 to finish T-5th in the California Women’s State Open and 71-71-71 to finish T-3rd in the Arizona Women’s Open.
I must say that I am more excited than ever to have the opportunity of Q-School ahead. I am confident in not just my ability to get back on the LPGA, but to succeed there once I do. I am really looking forward to competing!
One last thing: I'd like to give a major thank you to my sponsors Crucial by Micron, Snake River Farms, and TR Toppers for their support this year. From Ottawa to Auckland, they made my journeys across the globe possible. I am proud to represent them near and far!
Wishing everybody a Happy Thanksgiving filled with love and gratitude!
An inside look at my journey in professional golf
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