This past Sunday, the LPGA finished a two-week stretch in which they battled the trying conditions of Scottish golf. I’ve always loved watching Scottish and Irish golf. So, it was a real treat for me that due to the time difference, I could start my weekend with a cup of coffee and the breathtaking views of links golf.  

Yesterday, watching the final round of the AIG Women’s British Open took me back to a trip to Ireland during my senior year of high school. Since I picked up the game of golf, I had always dreamt of playing in Ireland. I wanted to experience the whipping wind, rolling hills and often dreary conditions found on the links of Irish golf. 

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As my graduation gift from high school, my family and I packed up the bags and headed to experience golf in its earliest form. 

Our first stop— Old Head Golf Links.

My dad, brother, and I had gotten straight off the red-eye, into the small compact car, and made our way for a 13:30 tee time. From the airport to Old Head, I sat in awe of the beautiful countryside of Ireland. And then, we pulled onto the road that took us to the grand entrance of Old Head Golf Links

It was misty and cold, but between the two massive stone walls sat one metal gate letting members and guests enter the property. I’ll never forget the feeling of pulling up to the gates thinking, “this is what I’ve come here for!” I wanted the full Irish experience, and that’s what I was getting. I still get chills thinking back to this moment. 

With the wind whistling by my ear and rain beating on my jacket, I teed up my ball and swung to the unknown fairway half-covered with fog. A few steps onto the fairway, I quickly realized this wasn’t going to be a walk in the park type of round. On any other given day, I’m sure these were the conditions my brother, and I would talk to each other about the excitement of finishing the round with a warm cup of hot chocolate or chili. However, that wasn’t the case on this particular day. We welcomed the challenge and truly embraced the difficulty of the course and Irish conditions. I can’t count the number of times we yelled over the wind screaming, “this is unbelievable.” I was playing for fun and joy, which freed me to embrace the struggle instead of freezing from it. 

The LPGA players these past two weeks didn’t have that option. They were playing for their livelihood. I admire the players in the past two weeks that embraced the struggle and were able to adapt their games. I think everyone watching the AIG Women’s British Open yesterday was touched by the story of Sophia Popov. After struggling with Lymes disease, she lost her LPGA card in 2019 and almost quit golf last year. Yet, she held on and pushed through and today can call herself a major champion. Her win yesterday led me to a valuable reflection. 

Just like the weather in links golf, every day, we don’t know the circumstances that will be thrown our way. That has never been more evident than the world we live in right now. A valuable lesson I learned from my round at Old Head Golf Links is that if we welcome difficult conditions, they no longer act as headwind pushing us back, but instead wind in our sails moving us forward. If we can find the joy in the struggle and adapt to the conditions that come our way, perhaps we can find victory in the journey. 

Maybe Popov learned this lesson with her struggles off the course, but in watching her victory speech yesterday, it was evident the triumph felt in her heart. Her story has inspired me and reaffirmed my belief that at the end of a struggle, in one form or another, there will always be triumph. I hope this has somehow inspired you just as she has inspired me!