In mid-June, I headed towards Lake Michigan for three of my favorite events. I love the quality of golf courses, scenery, and people of this area. After the difficult start to the year, I started to finally play some decent golf. I finished T-40th, T-39th, and T-13th in South Bend, Harris, and Stanwood. The top-20 finish in Stanwood was my first of the season. I took advantage of being able to hit a lot of wedges there and finally enjoyed shooting three consecutive under par rounds.
I flew from Michigan to California during the Symetra Tour’s off-week in hopes of getting into the US Open. Much to my dismay, I did not budge from my position as second alternate. I was able to practice on site but was not allowed to play a practice round. This was a long and frustrating week, but if I had to do it all over again, I would make the same decision. I was too close to getting in to not take the chance and go.
The remainder of the weekend in California was spent hanging out with family in the area. I then crossed the country to the next Symetra Tour event in Rochester, NY. My first round in Rochester was one to remember- I carded four birdies and an eagle in a five-hole stretch! Six under in five holes is a new personal best. Unfortunately, that was where the excitement ended. I made a few bogeys coming in to shoot 69, then shot three straight 75s to finish T-61st. The week in Battle Creek, MI, was another story of highs and lows. I had a blast returning to a place full of positive memories and being announced on the first tee as “Defending Champion, Madeleine Sheils.” I shot a very solid opening round of 70, but then made an early exit after a 78 in round two.
In between Rochester and Battle Creek, I made a 24-hour stop in Newark, NJ to play in LPGA Legend Val Skinner’s LIFE (LPGA Pros In The Fight to Eradicate Breast Cancer) pro-am event. Val has raised more than $10.5 million since 2000 for breast cancer research, awareness, and prevention programs. It was an absolute honor to be a part of this event.
I have made some big strides since the beginning of the season. I am improving my chipping, regaining confidence, and have started to feel more like myself on the golf course again. These improvements show in my under par scores and cuts made. The climb remains bumpy, though. There have been plenty of days that felt like a step backwards, despite what I believe to be a general trend upwards. Right now, I have to take this one day at a time, as cliché as that may be. I’m not going to continue to compare myself to where I think I should be. If I’ve learned anything this year, it is that life doesn’t always flow according to my perfect little plans. Letting go of expectations is very, very difficult, but it is necessary for me to do in order to move past being angry and disappointed and towards more improvement. Giving my best each day is all I can ask of myself.
During this last third of the season, I will continue to dedicate myself to improving both my chipping mechanics and my attitude surrounding it. I did some more work with coach Tiffany Yager of Vision54 recently. She was on-site for coaching in Battle Creek, and we played a practice round focusing just on my playing skills- how do I build energy before competition and keep it high throughout each round? How do I train myself to have neutral or positive reactions after each shot? How can I be prepared to adapt to physical/mental/emotional changes that come up each day? These are all ways I am working to better myself and my golf game.
Good news in the caddy department: I started working with Larry Smich, a longtime LPGA Tour caddy, five weeks ago. He brings great experience, perspective, and humor to the bag. Larry has an entertaining blog of his own that I recommend checking out here. It has been so nice to have the consistency of a tour caddy again!
I am now coming off two wonderful weeks in Idaho. I skipped the tour event after Battle Creek to be a bridesmaid in one of my closest childhood friend’s wedding, then enjoyed the tour’s given week off with even more time at home. Nothing could be better for my soul than time spent in the mountains of McCall, ID with best friends and family.
The final third of the year goes: two weeks on - one week off - three weeks on - one week off - three weeks on. Follow along at www.SymetraScoring.com this weekend while I play in Decatur, IL.