Average amateur golfers are almost always assured of playing with someone they know, a good friend or a fellow member. Occasionally, you get paired up with a stranger. But if you play with any regularity, you can usually guarantee that your playing partners will be good friends or a fellow weekend-warriors. But for competitive golfers, the opposite is true. The other players in your group, your “fellow competitors” as they are officially known, are assigned to you by the tournament committee. Those players might be friends. They might be strangers. But like many things in golf, they are out of your control.

Sometimes you get lucky and your partners help create a fun and memorable day. Other times, the experience can be memorable in ways you hope to forget. More often than not, it lands somewhere in the middle.

In my years of competitive golf, I’ve been fortunate to be paired with some great players and people. Today, I would like to focus on just one.

It was sometime early in my junior golf career when I was playing in a Peggy Kirk Bell Tour event. I had heard her name from the noise she had made climbing the junior golf ranks. But, despite my Italian descent, I had no hope of knowing the correct way to pronounce her name. Having played with her many times since I feel sorry for all the starters who have given it their best effort.

The name? Emilia Migliaccio. Today, many of you know it. Emilia holds many great accolades to her name. She’s accomplished great feats on and off the golf course. If you watch her, you’ll see that she plays with passion and pure excitement for the game. I’d say she has the same approach to life.

Ironically, the first time we were paired together was in a PKB Event held at the University of North Carolina Finley Golf Club. Two years later we’d be paired again on the same course as student-athletes instead of college commits. From the moment we hit our first tee shots until the last putt dropped, our round was filled with great conversation, laughter, and one unforgettable golf shot.

We both stood in the fairways of the par-five 17th hole waiting for the group in front to leave the green so we could attempt to hit the two-tiered green in two. Emilia hit first and hit a pure 3 wood that was headed for the middle of the green. I can remember her saying, “sit, sit, sit,” hoping it wouldn’t take a bounce off the mound and roll off the green. The ball listened well. It took one bounce up into the air and then rolled to the back portion of the green where the pin was. At that point, we could no longer see the ball from the fairway. However, by the screaming of our moms, it appeared to be a good shot. It was better than good. The ball went in the hole. Emilia made an albatross! It was her first and the only one I have witnessed to this day.

Since that day, Emilia and I have enjoyed great talks on our long walks through many rounds of competitive golf. I think our moms have enjoyed the same. One year, my mom and I were in Sebring, FL for the Harder Hall Invitational. It took place in January, which also fell on my mom’s birthday. I felt bad that there wasn’t much to do in Sebring to celebrate her birthday. Need not worry, I walked down to the hotel lobby to find my mom and Emilia’s mom sharing a bottle of wine. Their talks went from taking place over the course of a long walk to a glass of wine. Emilia and my conversations would start to transition too.

About a month ago, Emilia texted me to see if we could set up a time to meet. We weren’t booking a tee time. Instead, it was to talk about another passion that she and I both share: writing.

Emilia is a phenomenal golfer and with her resume, many would assume she would go on to have a very successful professional career. However, Emilia has decided to take the path less traveled and join her two passions of golf and writing. You can read about why she made this decision in her personal narrative, “Why I am not turning pro and why I am excited for the future.”

Her resume as an author is starting to mirror the one she created as a golfer. In 2018, she published her first novel, Just an Illusion. Last summer, she started an internship as a part of Golf Channel’s editorial staff. Since then, she’s created a compilation of great articles. Next summer she’ll graduate from Wake Forest with a master’s degree in communication. From there, her opportunities seem limitless. I’m sure we’ll see a great
fusion of golf and writing.

Those passions are why Emilia and I spent hours sitting at Starbucks sipping on coffee and sharing great thoughts. Emilia had reached out to me to do an interview after both she and her boss at Golf Channel read my blog, “Lessons from Q School.”

An hour had gone by and Emilia and I had realized that the interview had not yet started. We were too busy catching up and talking about the similarities in our views on golf and writing. We both hope to pursue our passions at a high level. We went back and forth on how to create that balance. In her ever-so-positive and vibrant personality, Emilia continued to encourage me, “it is SO possible,” she said.

By the end of our chat, we agreed that one compliments the other. Writing allows us to step back and see golf from a different perspective. We both feel it’s therapeutic and serves as a great reminder that it’s just a game. Writing allows us to see it as a game of strategy and not just of ball striking. Writing has made us appreciate the game. If it weren’t for golf, neither of us would have found ourselves enjoying this long talk about our newfound walks.

That’s the power of this great game. It can bond strangers. I’m sure many of you can attest to the great people you’ve met over the course of an 18-hole round. And you never know if you’ll meet again at the intersection of a fairway or two pens and a blank piece of paper.

As for the next time Emilia and I meet, neither of us is sure if it will be for a tee time or tea-time. Either way, we will enjoy each other’s company, as always.