When I was little, 25 days until Christmas wasn’t a long enough countdown. In fact, my letter to Santa was drafted before the Turkey was carved on Thanksgiving day. November and December felt like the slowest months of the year. I spent my days praying that white flurries would drop from heaven on the 25th of December and that Santa thought I was a good girl that year. 

I had all my traditions that got me in the spirit. Decorating my room with lights (sometimes hanging from the fan—sorry mom), reading the book On Christmas Eve, playing B101 from the moment Christmas music came on, baking with my sisters, and Christmas shopping for my parents with my siblings. All these activities to fill the days and occupy my mind so that magical Christmas morning would come sooner. 

It is safe to say I was pretty impatient that time of year, and Christmas was always on my mind. I remember my brother telling me, “Brynn, stop counting down, and it will come a lot faster.” Easier said than done, I thought. 

When I got older, Christmas Day became less anticipated. Part of me wishes I could go back to that childlike excitement for just one day, but another part of me is grateful for the way I can live in the present during the most magical time of year. Instead of Christmas always being on my mind, I can appreciate the joy found in the whole season. I now cherish the infrequent time my family gets to spend together, and I actually wish time would slow down to delay the dreaded goodbye.

I know you are probably thinking, why in the world am I talking about Christmas? The last time you checked, the calendar said March 1st, and you’d prefer to see flowers blooming instead of a single snowflake fall from the sky.

Well, I had an experience the other day that showed me that little kid with not much patience still lives in me. However, my Christmas morning looks a little different these days. 

It now comes in the form of Monday mornings before the week of an LPGA event. On those days, the LPGA hosts a qualifier to play your way into the event. This past Monday was my first one. 

If you are not familiar with Monday Qualifiers, they are a one-day shootout to vie for two spots into the field that week. This week 48 players were playing for those spots. It was a strong field because the event field size was shortened from 140 to 120, and the LPGA players who did not gain direct entry dropped into the Monday Qualifier. That being said, Monday Qualifiers are very hard to get into right now because, after a long break, everyone is chomping at the bit to compete. Without knowing when an opportunity like this will come again, it’s safe to say that Monday has been on my mind like Christmas was when I was a little kid. 

On February 3rd, I was offered a sponsor exemption into this Monday Qualifier at the Gainbridge LPGA hosted by Lake Nona. From that day forward, Monday has been on my mind. 

Since moving to Florida in January, I’ve been training and preparing for opportunities like this. My chance to get on the LPGA and achieve my dreams. 

Just like how I wanted to be on the top of the nice list on Christmas morning, I wanted nothing more than to be at the top of that leaderboard on Monday afternoon. 

I wanted to make sure I had all the boxes checked, so I knew I was the utmost prepare by the time I put that tee in the ground on the first hole of the qualifier. 

But there was one box I couldn’t check off… a practice round. Practice rounds were not offered unless you play with a member the week prior, which I wasn’t able to pull off. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t give me a little bit of anxiety. It felt like I’d done all the baking but wasn’t able to leave the cookies and milk out for Santa on Christmas Eve. 

However, I was fortunate to connect with a mutual friend that was a member and could walk the course with me on Sunday afternoon. As we walked the front nine together, I tried to take in as much course knowledge as possible without clouding my mind. He told me he’d walk the front nine, and I’m extremely grateful for all of his knowledge and time. Now, the back nine was left for me to learn on my own. 

As I made the turn, I saw the sun quickly lowering on the horizon. My legs started moving faster and faster as I walked the pristine fairways of Lake Nona. All this waiting, and I was actually praying time would slow down! 

After running around, my heart was racing when I arrived on the 16th tee. I’m not sure what inclined me to do so, but instead of looking straight ahead to the fairway, I looked left towards the lake. At that moment, my heart slowed down, and a feeling of calmness flowed throughout my body. I realized that Monday was so much on my mind, I couldn’t fully appreciate the moment I was living. So, I took my brother’s advice… stop the count down. Stop thinking about how many holes I had left and start realizing where you are right now.

On that 16th tee, Christmas came earlier. I was gifted with the power to be present. Ya know that little kid who couldn’t wait for Christmas morning and wanted that Scotty Cameron putter in the worst way? Well, she also couldn’t wait to be a professional golfer and wrap her arms around an LPGA trophy on Sunday afternoon one day. 

So, there I was. I was standing on the 16th tee box of an LPGA event on Sunday afternoon. While there was no trophy on the line, I am a professional golfer now, and the following day I would take one step closer to achieving the rest of my dream. Coincidence or not, but the house to my left was home to Annika Sorenstam, also known as the greatest women’s golfer of all time. 

For the first time in weeks, as I walked down that 16th fairway, Monday wasn’t on my mind. What was on my mind? The moment.

I played the next day as hard as I used to pray that Santa would bring me that shiny new toy with a big bow on top. I shot two over, finishing 18/48 and five back from the qualifying spot. Maybe I didn’t get the bow on top, but the experience was a gift itself. One that will have me better prepared for the next time “Christmas morning” rolls around. 

I’m not sure when that will be or when the other half of my dream will come true. What I do know is that when I believed Santa would come, he did. So I’ll choose to have faith and believe another opportunity will come my way. Until then, I guess I’ll listen to my brother’s advice and stop the countdown. 

Maybe you’ve experienced this before, but I hope that this blog was a reminder to be less fixated on the end and enjoy the walking in between. After all, all we really have is today.