Chasing my dreams one shot at a time
I suppose I have been avoiding writing this blog. Its been eight weeks since I have had any type of golf result to (literally) write home about, but the rattlings going round in my head have reached a decibel I cannot ignore. So, here we are.
The last bright spot to which I am referring was my T-39th place finish on the LPGA in Indianapolis. It was an enjoyable week all around. I stayed with a delightful repeat host family (shoutout to the Lacys!) in downtown Indy, and I happen to like the Pete Dye layout that weaves its way inside the Brickyard race track for a few holes. I still don’t quite understand the desire to marry NASCAR and golf; however, they somehow make it work in Indy.
Three weeks prior, I sought the assistance of a new coach, Andy Patnou. I had dragged my feet in making a coaching change, but after months of unreturned phone calls and half-hearted help it was finally time. Andy started by addressing a few basics: my right hand grip had unintentionally migrated way too on top of the club and my shoulder turn was rather flat. One of golf’s greatest evils: a minuscule change means the difference between a weekend pairing with Lydia Ko and a weekend pairing with whomever you’re jockeying for elbow room in the center seat of the Southwest flight out of town.
Most notably, my caddie in Indianapolis was local sports psychologist Dr. Rob Bell. Rob and I have followed each other on social media for a few years and I had listened to some of his podcasts, but we did not formally know each other until the Brickyard. I was aware he had caddied for professional golf clients before, so I reached out. Turns out this was one of my rare brilliant ideas.
Plenty of people are capable of providing a yardage to the bunkers and not losing head covers. The true differentiation between looper and proper caddie is their competence in the sports psych department. Rob’s cues were simple:
Take a deep breath here. Reset.
Just focus on this first tee shot. That’s it.
How are you feeling? Tired? We’ve got five more holes. Stay with me and be mentally tough for just five more holes.
His guidance was remarkably consistent and clear. Its like... he is a professional or something. My swing was gelling, the soft course conditions suited me, and thanks to Rob, I stayed unbelievably present. Eleven under par and a critical jump inside the top-150 on the money list. Surely, on the way up, right!?
Wrong. Oh, golf. I was in a fantastic place mentally next the two weeks at the Canadian Open and the Portland Classic with Rob’s cues still echoing in my head, drowning out the usual demons, but unfortunately my form didn’t match. I missed the cut in both, albeit with more grace than usual.
I reconvened with Andy in Scottsdale, and he provided more simple but necessary guidance. Turns out it is hard to make LPGA cuts when aimed twenty five yards right on every shot. I also recommitted to diligent short game practice for two weeks, tripling the amount of time I’m typically found on the putting green.
To continue Q-Series preparation, remain competitive, and visit even more exotic travel destinations, I shipped off for Symetra events in Prattville, AL and Longwood, FL. Unfortunately my form was lacking there, too. The sequencing of my swing has been so inconsistent for the last year that it feels each week I am either zero or the hero with nothing in-between.
Thus, Andy and I have worked on another technical tweak to make my sequencing more consistent. Golf is cyclical, and this tweak is a return to the motion I had mastered in my glorious and victorious summer of 2015, when I believe I best maintained a high level of ball striking for an extended period of time. I’m already pleased with the progress made and grateful to have a committed, supportive coach to guide the process.
Q-Series has morphed into an eight-round marathon in Pinehurst, NC. 108 women will play four rounds on Pinehurst #6 (Oct 24-27), take a three day break, then play four more rounds on Pinehurst #7 (Oct 31-Nov 3). There is no cut, and the scoring is continuous from the first course to the next. The top 45 finishers will receive 2019 LPGA status. There are no longer twenty “full” cards: all 45 will be placed in the same category and will be subject to reshuffles. However, finishers 21-45 will be at a higher priority level than they have in the past because 101-125 from the 2018 money list are no longer granted top status.
Whew- did you get all that? Probably not, so here’s what you need to know: I have a singular focus on getting the ball in the hole as quickly as possible every day between now and November 3rd. I’m relying on my usual toolbox for stress management: daily meditation, journaling, emotional support from friends and family. The addition of Dr. Rob to my team has been a valuable bonus.
Thank you to each and every one of you who continues to be a part of the ride. Whether I have crashed in your home, played in your group, heard your cheers outside the ropes, sported your company’s logo, or you’ve just texted a kind word- thank you. I could not do it alone.
It's time for an update on my last couple months!
As usual, life on tour has been a roller coaster. Back in April my game was feeling great, and I was chomping at the bit to get started in Hawaii. I ended up missing the cut by a stroke after battling a cold during the first and second rounds. Golf can be a game of momentum, and it felt as if Hawaii was the start of a downward spiral. I really struggled two weeks later in San Francisco and again at the next stop in Dallas.
I’ve had plenty of times like these in my career by now, but honestly, it's always difficult. I was down and frustrated, but there was only one thing to do: just keep swimming. As they say, the only way out is through.
I took a few days after Dallas to go hiking in northern Arizona with my boyfriend. This cleared my head and got me back to seeing the world from a brighter perspective. When I returned to the golf course I decided to rekindle the flame with an old putter, the center-shafted Odyssey Versa. Right away I played a Cactus Tour event and a US Open Qualifier, and although I didn’t nab wins, I did start making birdies again. My LPGA status worsened after the first reshuffle, so I had unexpected time off to visit Boise and partake in a Crucial by Micron sales event. Spending time with the wonderful people from Crucial who have supported me the last two years was a great silver lining and the beginning of a shift in momentum.
Things continued to look up when I arrived in Ann Arbor, Michigan for the LPGA Volvik Championship. I saw what felt like a thousand feet of putts go in the first 27 holes. The honeymoon phase with the new putter didn’t last forever, though, and it cooled down on the weekend. However, finally making a cut and playing a full four rounds gave my confidence a major boost. I'd gotten the monkey off my back.
In reality, my golf game wasn’t that far off during the first three events. I placed a lot of imagined and unnecessary pressure on the Hawaii tournament just because I had waited so long to play. Instead of finding the positives and moving forward, I dwelled on the failure. Focusing on the ‘coulda, woulda, shouldas' is mentally and physically draining. When all you see is what you’ve done wrong, mistakes and bad luck seem to keep appearing. In hindsight, I realize I have more control over those momentum swings than it feels like in the moment.
I packed my bags on June 3rd for a long stretch on the road. I started with a strong showing in Atlantic City at the LPGA Safeway Classic, shooting 69-72-67 to finish T-36th. Here was a week where I actually controlled my emotions! An early double bogey and some missed opportunities throughout the three rounds could have gotten me down, but I stayed patient and was rewarded with my best finish thus far of 2018.
I played more solid golf at the LPGA Meijer Classic in Grand Rapids, but shooting 70-74 was not enough to make the cut. From Grand Rapids, I drove north to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan for one of my favorite Symetra events: the Island Resort Championship. A couple bad swings hurt the overall score, but once again, my game wasn’t far off.
While the LPGA played their third major of the year without me in the field, I took advantage of my proximity to Minneapolis to visit my sister and her family. I enjoyed quality time with my precious niece, Elizabeth, and spent many hours practicing at Hazeltine National.
The next LPGA stops were Green Bay and Toledo. I unfortunately racked up two more missed cuts. Like I found last summer, six consecutive weeks on the road is beyond my limits. While I feel strong physically, aspects of my swing and short game get off track when I don’t have guidance from a coach for so long. I also found myself running on a very short emotional fuse despite my best efforts to stay patient and positive. I feel like my niece when it is past her nap time. Please, I’m cranky, somebody just put me in (my own) bed!
…after just one more week on the road, that is. LPGA player Olafia Kristinsdottir is hosting a pro-am in her home country of Iceland on July 18, and I couldn’t resist the opportunity to see this bucket list destination. Upon return from Iceland, I will have three full weeks off to recharge my batteries at home before hitting the homestretch of domestic events in mid-August.
I definitely won’t let this tired stretch of golf turn into negative momentum like I did earlier in the summer. I know I can play better than my recent scores, and each week has been a valuable learning experience regardless of the outcome.
Thank you to everyone who has been a part of the ride!
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!
An inside look at my journey in professional golf
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