On her “summer vacation,” Caroline Powers felt the scenery flying by in a blur. Bouncing between starts in two LPGA events and competing on the Epson Tour, all while figuring out a revamped golf swing, has given the Ohio native an appreciation for learning the ropes of professional golf.
“I’ve been adding up a lot of miles on my car,” Powers said on Monday as she drove through the hilly terrain to Albany, N.Y., for this week’s SEFCU Championship at Capital Hills on the Epson Tour. “I’ve taken pit stops at places I’ve never been. Pinehurst was awesome (for the U.S. Women’s Open) and playing at home last week (for the LPGA’s Marathon Classic) was really fun, with all my family and friends there. But now I’m ready to rock and roll.”
Missed cuts in her two LPGA starts this season weren’t discouraging. Instead it was the sign that things are getting better. In January, the 23-year-old former Michigan State All-American determined it was time to solidify her golf swing, so she has worked through four instructors – “I haven’t decided which one to choose yet,” she said – during the course of the season. As the Epson Tour enters the home stretch toward rewarding the top 10 with LPGA cards for 2015, Powers stands 27th on the money list. She has top-10 finishes at the Florida’s Natural Charity Classic (T8) and the Firekeepers Casino Hotel Championship (T4) and ranks third on the tour in Greens in Regulation (76 percent).
“My offseason swing change has caused me to kind of struggle to turn my thoughts off and play like I used to,” Powers said. “But there have been a lot of good things. A handful of bad shots have cost me a lot. I am still just trying to work through that. But I’m really excited about my putting.”
Developing into a tough-minded athlete comes from her parents, Buddy and Linda. Buddy just retired as the assistant hockey coach at Boston University after a career playing collegiate hockey, professional hockey in Europe and coaching at three schools, including hometown Bowling Green University. He is going to be a scout for the NHL’s Dallas Stars. Linda played collegiate golf at Bowling Green.
“Dad probably instilled into us to be tough,” Powers said. “At Bowling Green and Michigan State, those are northern schools where a lot of days there’s bad weather but you’ve got to get out and play. That gives me a stronger mental approach. At Michigan State, the coaches always said, ‘Play like a Spartan today.’ It didn’t matter whether it was 75 degrees or hailing and the wind was blowing 40 miles per hour.”
It takes smarts to figure out the next steps, and Powers has that. She graduated from Michigan State in May 2013 with a 3.87 GPA in Elementary Education, allowing her to fall back on teaching should golf not work out. She was a three-time All-America Scholar and was named the 2013 recipient of the prestigious Dinah Shore Trophy Award by the LPGA Foundation, an honor given to the female collegiate golfer who excels in both academics and athletics while demonstrating outstanding leadership skills and community service.
“There are challenges that come every week out here,” Powers said. “I look forward to seeing how I progress. And I’m looking forward to my name moving up that money list.”
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