As many of you know, last week I played in the ShopRite LPGA Classic for the third time. If you read my blog, “A Shore Tradition,” I can imagine you have a sense of just how much the venue, Seaview Golf Club, means to me. It’s a place that has long been visited by my family and the site of many great memories. Some of my fondest golf moments lie on the grounds of the over 100-year-old resort and golf club. This week would be no exception.

The two other times I played in the event, I earned my way in through Monday Qualifying. This year as a sponsor’s exemption, I anticipated things to be a little different. I wouldn’t be on the 18th green at the end of my round on Monday, waiting to see if anyone was going to come in lower than me. Instead, I’d be spending my Monday mapping out the course, playing a practice round, and fine-tuning my game so I’d be ready come Thursday.

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And, that’s exactly how it went. However, those days were highlighted not just by the fairways I walked on, but also by who was walking beside me. Over the course of the practice round days (Monday-Wednesday), I was able to play with some of the game’s best players, including Lexi Thompson, Brooke Henderson, Christie Kerr, and Christina Kim. Heading into the practice rounds, I was excited to learn from these great players, whether it be by their game or their advice. It was all that I expected and more.

Second practice round group… Lexi Thompson (far left), Christina Kim (left).

Valuable advice from Lexi!

I learned a tremendous amount by watching each player’s game, how they approached the practice round, and the diligence on the course. The biggest lesson came not from how they hit their driver or rolled their putts, but rather their dedication to master such a complex game. Their will to win and their passion to live out their dream every day filled my heart with an abundance of inspiration and motivation to chase my own. I was extremely encouraged by the way I felt my game stacked up against theirs. Going into Thursday, my heart was jumping with excitement, and motivation was flowing through my veins. I had butterflies in my stomach from the inspiration I had gained thus far and the anticipation I had for the days of competition that lie ahead.

Wall of Fame induction.

My mom and I after the reveal.

On Thursday, prior to my round, I was honored to be inducted to the Seaview Golf Club wall of fame. Returning there felt just like coming home, and this was by far the warmest welcome back I could have ever received. After the induction, I was ready to go out and add more memories at this significant place in whatever form it was supposed to be!

My goal was to go out there and hit every shot with full commitment and no doubt. I kept saying to my caddie and coach, John Dunigan, “let’s go out and hit the ball and see where the chips fall at the end of the day.” I think he can attest that I did just that. And, the chips fell below the cutline. While I was disappointed that I didn’t make the cut and post the scores needed to beat the best, it was a tremendous experience in exposing certain aspects of my game that need to be developed.

Coach/Caddie, John Dunigan, and I after the final putt on 18. Celebrating that we gave it all we had!

I was disappointed but in no way defeated. In fact, in my heart, there is more belief and motivation to chase my dream of professional golf than ever before. I know where I want to go and have gained tremendous insight into what it takes to get there. I owe almost 100% of this to the role models I was able to play within the practice rounds. Those are moments I’ll carry with me with me and look back on for the rest of my life. While the lessons I learned are abundant, I hope one day I can inspire others to the level they inspired me. I think that’s a lesson we can all use in every area of life!