The Heart of a Competitor

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fsu starI love my sport. Every day that I am in the gym, on the course, or traveling to my next event is a good day. I live for the moments on the course when I visualize the perfect shot and then execute it perfectly in the heat of the battle. I have trained my whole life to be where I am right now. I have relished competition in every facet of my life for as long as I can remember and golf has never been an exception. I am competitive and stubborn to a fault. If I do not win, I’ll stay and work until I know how to succeed next time.

Possessing this drive and determination does not mean that it is singularly focused on golf. Academic achievements have to be pursued. Every scrap of energy and emotion must be poured into relationships. Nothing in life seems to be safe from my insatiable quest to give it my all. Unless you ask my mother, and she will cheekily inform you that it does not pertain to the organization level in my bedroom.

As a woman, a lot is asked of you. Women and girls have to wear many hats; their lives are in a constant state of dichotomy. Nurture a child and kill in the boardroom. Prioritize your family and chase your dreams. Be kind and thoughtful but be ruthless when seeking victory on the course.

To be a female athlete, you have to be all of it. To be a female professional athlete, you have to be all of it and more.

Somehow you have to be brave enough to believe in yourself. Little girls cannot lose that self-assurance that all toddlers have. They have to be strong enough to think that they can have their cake and eat it too. If they don’t have the gumption to try, they will never figure out that everyone else is wrong.

Life is full of a cascade of choices. Mine have led me to this moment. I am caught somewhere between 20 and 30, trying to balance all of my decisions and observing all of you reconciling yours.

Being more is hard. I’d be lying if I said otherwise.

Every day I challenge myself to be more than what I was the day before: lift more weight, run one more step, make one more putt, hit one more fairway. I challenge myself to be a better daughter, sister, fiancé, friend and competitor. Sometimes I fail, and that’s okay.

Social norms and constructs and other people’s choices have made me feel like I’ve gotten lost at times. I’ve even caught myself feeling guilty for daring to dream big enough to chase my dreams. I hope that you never will feel that. I’m on my own journey and I have my own timeline. I am selfish enough and brave enough to do everything I can to give myself my own kind of fairytale ending. My brain and my heart won’t let me be anything less than everything I’m capable of.

Things You Realize After College Athletics Are Over

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FullSizeRenderAs I embark on my first full year of professional golf, I’ve taken some time to reflect on my life post-graduation. There have been some ups and downs and a big learning curve. It has been a full six months since I sat in class in one of the beautiful brick buildings of Florida State. It has been half a year since I have had the comradery of a team surrounding me day and night. Most importantly, it has been a number of weeks since I have been required to be at the gym by 6am. Which leads me to my first point:

You don’t have to be in the gym at 6am to get a good workout in.

Contrary to what your coaches and trainers have drilled into your head, you can indeed get a good workout in after you are awake. In fact, I think I have a better workout. After being awake and having a meal, working out is a lot more enjoyable. I now workout between 11 and 1. I even make time for one or two yoga classes a week in the evenings.

The scholarship checks really do stop arriving in your checking account.

Watching my bank account shrink made me realize that a steady stream of income is necessary. Even if you are playing well, golf does have an off season where there are no tournaments to make money. So, I have been doing some private tutoring in the off season. Mostly math and chemistry, just like I did in high school.

Coach won’t send you an itinerary or a pack list for your tournaments.

My first big professional trip was a lot to plan. I suddenly had so much appreciation for all the travel coordination our golf staff did for us. The tournament schedules were planned, flights were booked, rental cars were reserved, and hotels were found near the courses. Coach told us what would happen day by day and what time it would happen. She even picked out our outfits and gave thoughtful reminders of what should be in our suitcases! I had to dig out an old list to ensure I wasn’t missing any essentials before my trip.

Sitting in class was a lot smaller chunk of your day than you thought.

When I was in school, I used to think that I spent so much of my day on school work-and I did. So now that I have graduated, I should have extra time on my hands. Wrong. Unfortunately, now I have all the tasks to do that were done for me at school. That actually takes up more time than my classwork did. I have to make my own budgets, project my costs, pick my events, book my travel and find all the loose ends in between.

All those charity and booster events prepared you for professional golf.

We all did our best to arrive at required events with a good attitude but, being human, at some point we failed. One time or another, we couldn’t imagine how that event was more important than studying for a test, extra practice time, our social lives or even a nap. I learned that no matter how I felt that day, a good attitude was paramount. If I was happy, the people at the event around me had a better time and so did I. There have been plenty of instances the last few months when I have had events that I needed to attend, play in, or speak at when I haven’t felt the most excited to be present. My time at FSU where I learned how to navigate these events was so important. There are opportunities everywhere to learn, to grow and to make connections. Being fully present at these events ensures that I can take advantage of the opportunity when it comes.

You will lose your team.

This is the saddest sentence. The friendships you made will last a lifetime but after graduation, life does change. Your teammates that you spent all four years with will go off in different directions. Your teammates that are still there will be living a life you are no longer a part of. (I now stalk the leaderboards to see how they are playing and cheer them on.) However, I have made my own new team. It includes friends that I like to travel and share housing with, my swing coach, workout buddies in my yoga classes, playing professionals at my home course and high school friends. It takes a lot more people to recreate what just eight girls could do on their own, but I’ve found my new team.

There have been a lot of changes, but I love where I am right in this moment. I am excited to start this adventure and fortunate enough to have funding for the year. So cheers to 2016 and the start of my next chapter!


Character GPS

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image2Monday night I had the privilege of being the keynote speaker for a fabulous organization here in Tampa. Character GPS is a non-profit that provides character education experiences to children. The educators in this program work through a curriculum that aims to equip the kids with the tools they need to realize their innate value, have a vision for their future and give them a plan to achieve it.


I always try to jump at any opportunity to give back to my community and speaking to this group of girls for The Centre for Girls downtown was very special. I was amazed at how engaged and empowered they were! I spoke to them at their graduation from this multiple week skills course and it was clear they had been working hard. The room was full of girls with big dreams and realistic plans on how to get there.


Some of the dreams included a licensed psychologist, a neurosurgeon, a professional dancer, and a graphic designer- just to name a few. Hearing these girls dream about their futures made me smile.image1 (00000002)


I was able to give a 10-15 minute talk to these girls, who as I found out, were already plenty inspired! I hope to link in a video of my full speech, but I wanted to include a small excerpt:


“I consider myself lucky, I got to fall in love with golf again and I now appreciate that it can be taken away. Your body can be damaged, your dreams can be taken away. But no one will ever be able to take your education from you.


I’m going to surprise you all a bit. Yes, I am a professional athlete. Yes, I was a standout athlete in high school and was featured in newspaper articles. Yes, I was even nominated for homecoming queen my senior year of high school. But I was also the only girl on math league in middle school. I also took more than a dozen AP classes. I was the girl sitting in the front of the class, raising my hand when I knew the answer and I graduated as Valedictorian.


My ability to compete as an athlete might one day get taken from me, but my finance degree and my academic accomplishments will be there to help me find a new dream and a new career.


Don’t be afraid to be smart and to admit that you like getting good grades. Don’t be afraid to be one of the only girls in an advanced math class. You can be cool and have fun and still set yourself up to chase all of the big dreams that you can come up with. And on that note, happy dream catching to all of you!”


I know from the girls that came up to chat and take pictures afterwards, that I was able to keep their attention. I hope that my words were encouragement to them as they continue to grow and head to high school. I also look forward to being able to continue to do what is asked of me by my amazing home town as I chase my dream to be on the LPGA and look for sponsorship.

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IMG_0315I think that Q-School is a lot like the Hunger Games, 288 girls enter and only 60 come out. Unfortunately, I was not one of the 60 this year. I did not shoot the scores that I needed to advance. While this has been heart-breaking that things have not gone according to plan, I learned a lot. I learned that I have the game to be out there, but I have some work to do on controlling my thought processes under stress.

Due to some crazy circumstances, I played without a caddy this week. While the situation was less than ideal, I think it will be for the best. I am going to play mini-tour events this year, the prize money has been significantly increased, which makes this a more feasible option. I think that playing more professional events where cuts are on the line will have me better prepared for next year. After all the experience I will gain, when I do get status, I will be unstoppable.

My next step is to plan out a desired schedule of professional events and Monday Qualifiers for the LPGA and hopefully find some sponsorship or private backing. I will be getting a part-time job to help cover some of the costs. This route is different than I had imagined, but with some flexibility I can still make my dreams a reality.

My plan was not the same as God’s plan for me this week. But I know that I am right where I am supposed to be and I will get exactly where I need to go.

Why I Play Golf

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Julie Inkster

When posing for the picture, Julie picked up the trophy and threw it at me and said, “Here, practice winning!”

Last fall, Julie Inkster spoke at the Schooner Classic in Norman, Oklahoma. While this was an over-the-top, amazing event for a myriad of reasons, hearing a role model of mine speak, then talking with her and getting a quick picture, was icing on the cake.

Julie Inkster is so inspiring to me because of everything she fits into her life. She is a mother, a wife, and a world-class golfer with effortless congeniality and poise. Needless to say, I was pretty excited to hear her speak. However, what she said only made me admire her more; “Golf is what I do; Golf is not who I am. Golf should never define you.”

What a powerful statement that truly is when you take a moment to consider it. “Golf is what I do; Golf is not who I am.” Sometimes it is hard to remember that golf is not a part of and should not be a part of your personal definition of self. I cannot count the number of times I have been introduced to my parents’ friends and co-workers and the first thing they respond with is, “Oh, you’re the one who plays golf?” Or how many times a professor or peer on campus only remembers me as “the golfer.” Now while I spend a copious amount of my time playing golf, it can be easy to start to define myself with it. What an unhappy mistake that can be. Last spring I found myself walking off the course after multiple bad rounds of qualifying, miserable and lost. I felt like my life was sideways and I was so unhappy with everything in my life, because of how I was playing. With the help of my amazing family, boyfriend and swing coach, I was able to realize my mistakes.

One night after crying because I had played badly, my boyfriend, Tyler, looked at me and asked me a tide-changing question, “If golf makes you so upset, then why don’t quit, Alex? I know deep-down you love it, but you aren’t acting like it. Stop letting a few bad days take away something you love.” What a revelation from my non-golf playing boyfriend. I was holding on to the results of my rounds like they defined me and I was using that lens to view the rest of my life through.

All these moments made me own and live an important truth; I am more than just a golfer. I have a wonderful family, a boyfriend who loves me- no matter what score I shoot, the best teammates and great friends. I love to spend time with all of them, I love to give back to my community and I love to learn. I play golf because I love it. Practice is where I find my quiet peace and where I do all my best thinking. Everything makes more sense when I can relax, think and hit some golf balls on the range. I play golf because it is fun and I hope that I never lose sight of that again.