I’ve been out of training and competing for two months now. Over that time, I’ve found myself reflecting  in nostalgia of the greatest gifts the game has provided me. In the coming weeks, I’ll be sharing a few of my favorites with all of you.

Introducing Golf’s Greatest Gifts

Earlier this year, during the August National Women’s Amateur, my friend Emilia Migliaccio made a statement on live TV that resonated with me: “golf is cool.” She was responding to a question about what advice she would give to young girls interested in golf. And she was absolutely right. Golf is cool.

Today marks two months since I’ve been actively training and competing in golf, and it is safe to say I miss it. In moments of nostalgia, I find myself reflecting on the incredible gifts that this game has bestowed upon me. I think back to memorable events, victories, and even the leisurely rounds I’ve enjoyed on the course. And every time, Emilia’s words echo in my mind, reaffirming the truth behind them. Golf is cool.

With that in mind, I’ve decided to share some of the greatest gifts that golf has given me. Over the next few weeks, I’ll highlight the experiences, the people, and the places that this game has brought into my life.

This is a message to all the little girls out there who are debating whether to spend their time at the golf course with their parents or join their friends on the soccer fields. If you don’t have to choose, I encourage you to do both! But if you do have to make a choice, let me tell you from my own experience that golf is absolutely worth it. I never could have imagined the places this game would take me or the incredible people I would meet through it. When I reflect on these two remarkable gifts, I never regret the hours I’ve spent on the driving range, whether in freezing winter temperatures or under the scorching summer sun. Above all, I am grateful that I had the courage to follow a different path than most of my peers. And I can’t emphasize enough how important that is. Golf may or may not lead you to the professional ranks, and that doesn’t have to be your ultimate goal. But regardless, it will take you to some truly amazing places and introduce you to some extraordinary individuals.

Without further ado, I present to you part one of : “Golf’s Greatest Gifts” 

Golf’s Greatest Gifts : Part I – 2014 U.S. Girls Junior Championship 

In 2014, I qualified for the U.S. Girls Junior, tying for medalist honors at my qualifier at French Creek Golf Club in PA. It was a year of redemption for me after missing the qualifier by one stroke at the same course the previous year.

The car ride home in 2013 was completely different from the one in 2014. The disappointment from the previous year lingered in my mind, but it fueled my aspirations and motivated me to qualify the following year.

The moment I got home, I wasted no time and immediately started planning the trip to Flagstaff, Arizona with my dad. Forest Highlands Golf Club would be the host venue for the most prestigious junior girls’ event of the year. The mere thought of it filled me with awe and anticipation.

As we arrived in Flagstaff, AZ, a sense of wonder enveloped me. Goosebumps seemed to permanently caress my skin throughout the entire week. Stepping into the locker room reserved for players, I was greeted by the sight of my name etched upon a locker, making me feel like a part of the club’s storied history. Behind those wooden doors awaited our player gifts, including a UE Mini Boom speaker that remains a cherished possession to this day. I was basking in the crisp mountain air mixed with the breathtaking views of the course adorned with majestic pine trees. The opening ceremony, graced by inspiring guest speakers, ignited the dreams of all the young female golfers.

I found myself in a golfer’s paradise, and it was difficult to tear myself away from the tournament grounds at the end of each day. I believe this sense of gratitude and wonder propelled me to peak perform during the stroke play portion of the event. After the first two rounds, I finished among the top 20 in stroke play, securing my place in the match play rounds.

When I teed up for the round of 64, nerves surged through me, leading to a wayward shank of my 3 wood off the first tee. The entire round fell apart, and I felt utterly defeated, especially with my prospective college coach observing my performance. Despite the disappointment, my dad quickly stepped in with words of encouragement and valuable lessons to be learned from such a loss.

Above all, he reminded me that golf was just a game and urged me to appreciate the incredible surroundings it had brought me to. He assured me that in the years to come, this defeat would fade from memory, replaced by the lasting impressions of the memories and experiences we had shared. With that perspective in mind, he had a list of activities and sights he wanted us to explore before flying back home.

It took some time, but as we drove through the canyons en route to Sedona and indulged in what was then regarded as the finest Mexican cuisine in the United States at Molé, I was reminded of how fortunate I was to be there in such great company.

After enjoying a sweet treat from Molé, we continued our drive and stumbled upon the awe-inspiring Chapel of the Holy Cross. Its presence served as a poignant reminder to give thanks for the gifts God had given me. That week, those blessings extended beyond golf; it was about the cherished moments and new adventures shared with my dad.

Life was put into full perspective as a looked out onto the Grand Canyon – totally blown away by the complexities of nature.

Throughout the entire week, my dad’s radiant smile spoke volumes. It conveyed overflowing gratitude and an abundance of joy for the remarkable experience he had the privilege of sharing with his daughter.

As the current edition of the tournament unfolds in Colorado, I know that many of these young girls are fully focused on their performance, as they should be. However, I hope that every now and then, they pause to appreciate their surroundings. I vividly remember the elation of success when I performed well in stroke play, and I certainly recall the crushing defeat experienced in match play. Yet, neither of those outcomes weighs heavily on my heart. Instead, it is the collection of experiences, the places I had the opportunity to see, and the ever-present smile adorning my father’s face that still stir butterflies within me.

I sincerely hope that a few of these girls pay attention to those things as well because, as my dad wisely said, years down the road, those will be the memories that resonate most profoundly.

The Good Stuff

I shared this quote recently on LinkedIn. I think it captures life in a nutshell – if only we could realize we are living in the good ole days right now. 

Andrew Anabi on “How to Cherish Life”

“When life changes, you will probably miss the way it was. You may miss those long morning drives or walks to the office, or those hectic family gatherings. You may miss them because those moments are finite — you will only travel those streets and see those people a certain amount of times.

Every time you do something that is one less time you do it. One day you will do something the final time and you will rarely know when that day comes.

For all you know, today might be the last time you walk in a particular neighborhood. Or it might be the last time you smile at a particular someone. To think otherwise, would be foolish. Nothing is guaranteed, except this moment. Your only real choice is to cherish every exchange like it is your last — because it very well might be.

Therefore, the best way to cherish life is to remind yourself of life’s impermanence. It is to remember that every time you see someone that is one less time you see them. It is to remember that every time you go somewhere that is one less time you visit. By doing this, you naturally slow down. Almost like a reflex, you start to truly live.”