I must admit I was stunned my season ended the way it did. Everything seemed to happen so fast. It was just the other day when I played the LPGA event in Portland followed by a great showing in front of my Husker friends at the Symetra event in Mayetta, Kansas. I attended my sister’s wedding the next weekend in Seattle, but then woke up here in Arizona two and a half weeks later without any tournaments left to play. Surely the past two weeks of bogeys and missed cuts and disappointments were just a bad dream.
I arrived in Daytona Beach for the Tour Championship jet-lagged and exhausted from the wedding. I booked a Sunday night red-eye flight from Washington to Florida with the intention of saving time and energy, but it only made things worse. Chalk it up as another important travel lesson learned the hard way. I didn’t feel comfortable with my body and swing until the second round on Friday morning, and that was simply too late after Thursday’s 77. I started pressing hard to make birdies, knowing exactly what I needed to make the cut, but of course this backfired. Golf is like quicksand: the harder you try, the worse you get.
I remained in Daytona over the weekend, grooving my swing for hours on the range. I cheered as my good friend and roommate of the week, Demi Runas, shot a final round 65 and tied for first, earning enough to make a last minute leap inside the top-10 on the money list. I got chills as I watched Demi and the other nine girls receive their oversized LPGA Tour cards on stage in the season-ending ceremony. The feeling of watching these ten girls as they finally clutched in their hands the realization of a life-long dream was thrilling, inspiring, and…agonizing. I, too, wanted so desperately to be on that stage.
With four days to kill before the practice rounds for Q-School began, I stopped in Sarasota to spend time with my dear friend and host mom, Sue Morris. I had a great time splitting my days between productive practices and relaxing evenings with Sue. I arrived in Venice refreshed and ready to go. I felt confident in my game, my knowledge of the courses, and my ability to advance just like I did in 2012 and 2013.
How I shot a whopping +14 (72-80-78-72), I have no idea. It was simply one of those weeks where any sort of rhythm or feel eluded me. Couple that with the pressure of Q-School, and I cracked. Having not learned my lesson from the week prior, I tried harder and harder until any chance of advancing was so far gone that the only option remaining was to completely let go. Pulling it together only in time for the final round was just the cherry on top of my giant slice of humble pie.
The past five days have been an opportunity to process. I’ve had great conversations with friends in similar situations, heard encouraging words from many of you, and most importantly, spent time with my own thoughts.
I know this is how golf (and life) goes. There are ups and downs and things don’t unfold according to our plan. But as the Stoics say, “There is no good or bad without us, there is only perception. There is the event itself and the story we tell ourselves about what it means.” So here is my story…
I have made huge improvements in two years. Take a look at my stats from last year to this year. I moved up twenty-two spots on the money list. I gained ten yards in driving distance. I improved from 96th to 25th in greens in regulation. My scoring average dropped by three quarters of a shot. I shot in the 60s nine more times.
What you can’t see on a stat card: I have a better understanding of my own swing. I have built a great relationship with a caddy. I have a team of coaches I can trust. My course management has improved. I know how to take care of myself on the road. I’ve made a great group of friends.
Though I am only chasing a little white ball across grassy fields, professional golf is a career that continually challenges me to improve every aspect of myself. I get to spend my days working at my passion. Every once in a while, I might inspire someone else to do the same. The father of a young golfer I met at a junior clinic wrote me to say, “Molly looks up to you big time and watching you chase your dream only makes her desire to get after her dreams that much stronger. Thanks for encouraging her!” I can think of nothing more gratifying than that.
And so, my off-season begins. I am currently at home in Mesa, grateful to be staying put for the foreseeable future. I am relishing the break from scrambles and suitcases and road trips and pin sheets. More info to come later on how I plan to be my best self yet when the 2015 Symetra Tour season kicks off.