It all started as a tradition. A tradition long before I was born. 

In the winter months of my mom’s childhood, her parents would pack up the six kids and escape the suburbs of Philadelphia to the peaceful setting of Galloway, New Jersey. Home to the Seaview Golf Resort

According to my mom, those were the times she and her siblings would all look forward to. The swimming in the indoor pool, late nights in the game room and family dinners in the grill room. 

Those were the memories I’d always hear my mom speak so fondly of. Whenever she’d bring it up, I immediately saw the nostalgia in her smile and the glimmering water in her eyes. 

It had been a long time since she’d been back. And this time, it wasn’t for a family getaway, and she was no longer the child that was eager to rush to the game room. No, she was a mom. And this time, it was her own child escaping to the game room—a different game room than she found herself in 40 years prior.

Her child’s game room was one with green stripes of different height, swaying grass from the ocean breeze, a 4 ¼ inch cup, one white ball, and 14 metal sticks. The child, you may ask? Yep, that’s me! The game room? Well, it’s my version of a game room… a golf course. 

In 2014, I played in my first amateur pre-qualifier for the Monday qualifier for the ShopRite LPGA Classic at Seaview Golf Resort. I had heard about the unique opportunity from a friend and immediately jumped at the chance to play my way into an LPGA event. 

My first crack at it, and I won the amateur pre-qualifier and found myself in the Monday qualifier. It was Memorial Day, and my family came out to watch. I remember arriving on the range and seeing all of the staff bags and being handed a bag of brand new range balls to take to my desired range location. It felt like I was getting a little taste of my dream. I’d played a pretty solid 18 holes and finished three shots back of earning my spot in the tournament that week. I was disappointed because it felt like my dream was right in front of me to grab, and it was swept away. At the same time, I was encouraged because I knew my game was near the point of competing with the pros. 

Not quite ready to leave the aura of the tournament setting, my parents and I sat down at McGettigan’s 19th hole and reminisced on the day along with what a great time we were having. After the meal was complete, we headed back home, and I sat in the back of the car dreaming of the day I would tee it up there for the actual tournament. 

That winter we were hit with a series of winter storms at my home in Pennsylvania. My mom often has crazy ideas, some more genius than others, but this one happened to be one of her best. I was sick of getting stuck in the winter snow and not being able to play golf. She told me to check the weather down the shore as they usually don’t get as much snow. She was right. Golf courses were open and available to play. 

That next morning, the car was packed, and my mom and I were headed to a place that was already special to her and gaining more significance to me by day,The Seaview Golf Resort. Before we knew it, another tradition was born.

It was an hour drive filled with oldie music and a stop at the landmark bakery, Chester’s. We’d pick up a dozen (or two) of their famous sticky buns for our family and a few extra for the golf course staff. It was cold, and the wind blew, but our fondness for the place warmed us from the inside. That became my winter outlet. It wasn’t long before the staff became great friends, and the golf course felt more like home.

Chester’s Pastry Pantry

After playing in the amateur qualifier for two years, I had built a relationship with the tournament sponsor, Eiger Marketing. I won the amateur qualifier two years in a row and had just missed playing in the actual event both times. From my strong play in the two previous years, they offered me a sponsor’s exemption into the professional Monday qualifier in 2016.

That would be my year. On May 31st, one day short of my 18th birthday, I won the qualifier and earned a spot into my first LPGA tournament! To this day, that moment ranks at the top of memories from my career. My dream was realized with my family watching at such a special place. My two sisters and my mom sat in the stands with water in their eyes. As a tear rolled down my face, I hugged my dad. I can still hear him say to me, “you did it.” 

After qualifying on Monday, I spent every hour I could on the golf course or the practice facilities. I wanted to make sure I took it all in. I was in a dream, and I wanted to prolong waking up as long as I could. Those nights were restless, and the days were joyous. One lesson I would have to learn is to rest and not wear myself out, but we’ll save that for another time! 

And then Thursday morning came. I started on the tenth tee. My family, friends, and newfound fans surrounded the tee box. My dad handed me my three-wood, and with shaky hands, I teed up the ball. My heart was beating so fast I thought those around could see the flutter of my shirt. A moment I dreamed of for so long had finally arrived.

The combination of my nerves and excitement had crippled me, and those eighteen holes became a blur. I didn’t play the way I had envisioned and can’t really remember the shots I hit. What I do remember are the family members, the friends, and the fans that stuck with me shot after shot. Since then, they have always shown up for that special event, and this new tradition was born. 

In 2017 and 2018, I played in the Monday qualifier and came up short by one or two shots both times. 

Then 2019 came—the year of the putt. The father of my childhood best friend, Tom Winnick, has been battling out the spot for my biggest fan for quite some time now. He always shows up for the qualifier and the tournament at the Seaview. In 2019, I sat on the eighteenth green two over par. After hitting a perfect four iron, I left myself a 40 foot eagle putt with ten feet of break. I knew if I wanted a chance at another LPGA appearance I’d have to make the putt. 

“ONE TIME, ONE TIME, ONE TIME” Those were the words out of Tom Winnick’s voice as he recorded this putt for the ages. Boom, putt goes in, and the phone goes down. That putt earned me a spot in the playoff for the final spot which I would go on to win. Just like that I had birthed my second appearance into The LPGA ShopRite Classic. The tradition would continue. 

Video footage of the putt commentating by Tom Winnick.

This year there won’t be any edge of your seat putt or qualifying to continue the tradition. I am announcing that I have earned a sponsors exemption into this ShopRite LPGA Classic. Thank you to Eiger Marketing and the ShopRite LPGA Classic for providing me with this opportunity. I can not wait to tee it up for my third LPGA event at one of my favorite places. It will be a little different this year, but it will be fun to experience the Seaview in the crisp fall air. 

Most of us have family traditions that pass down from one generation to the next. Through the years, they evolve, but the significance remains the same. I am excited to see the memories made this year and in the years to come as this tradition continues.