I think individual sports have the stigma that it is a journey one goes on alone. I’m guilty of falling into that trap. There have been lonely moments in the past where I dreamt of returning to a team sport. That was before I realized golf is a team sport. No, not in the way that you are relying on someone else to take the winning shot, but in the way that you are not the only one pushing you forward. There are coaches, trainers, parents, role models, siblings, friends and competitors joining you on the journey. After all, the power of a group is greater than that of one being. To illustrate this, I want to take you through one of my favorite golf memories.

In 2015, the USGA was hosting the Inaugural U.S. Women’s Four-ball Championship at the world-renowned Bandon Dunes Golf Resort. My best golf friend of the time, Maddy Herr, invited me to team up and try to qualify for it together. Rewind to 2012, when I first met Maddy in our state junior championship. We were paired in the last round together and went head to head for the trophy. She ended up winning, but a lifelong friendship formed. It was the true essence of competition. After all, the Latin word, competere does mean to strive together. That is exactly what we did from that day on. 

In September of 2014, we won the qualifier at Somerset Hills Country Club in New Jersey and we were on our way to the first U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship. In May of 2015, we boarded the plane to Oregon with zero expectations. We didn’t realize we were about to have the time of our lives. 

Maddy and I with our tickets to the championship. 

We were mesmerized by the landscape of Bandon Dunes, the windy conditions, and the excitement of this new format. We knew our two games complimented each other well. Maddy was consistent and straight. I was the long hitter willing to take risks. Our games were reflective of our personalities. Maddy did a great job of staying calm and stabilizing the mood while I was always there to pump it up. We called our partnership “bacon and ham.” 

We finished the stroke-play portion at nine-under-par and in a T3. In the round of 32, we were down two holes to Jennifer Kupcho and Gillian Vance with four holes to play. I remember, looking at Maddy and saying, “we are the comeback kids, let’s do this.” Both being from the Philadelphia region, we started humming the Rocky theme song. It became our clue to get the ship rolling. We ended up winning the match in 20 holes. 

Next up, the round of 16. Once again, we found ourselves two down, but this time with six to play. With the reminder of being the comeback kids and a little help from Rocky Balboa, we once again came back to win on the 19th hole. 

In the quarterfinals, we saved our energy and finished the match-winning 5 and 3. We headed to the semifinals with the deep belief that something special was about to happen. What was remarkable was the way we leaned on each other and our differing strengths. We had competed against each other our whole junior career, and nothing changed. Just as we pushed each other when competing as individuals, we pushed one and another as a team. 

We eventually fell to Robynn Ree and Hannah O’Sullivan 3 and 2 in the semifinals. It was a shock for us because our belief in each other was so great we thought without a doubt we’d win the finals. 

Once we got over the initial shock, we realized the real prize we won… a lesson of friendship through competition. This bond wasn’t formed in competing with each other. It started in that state championship and molded over the years of competing against each other. Our friendship has been an enormous asset to our personal and golf development.  

What I hope you all take from this is that golf is not a lonely game. We are all playing the golf course, and we can all push each other to become better. In golf as in life, there is always someone there to walk with you. Find those people that drive you to be better and add joy to your journey. And when you achieve success, remember to thank them because without competition and without any team, there would be no victory.