Epson Tour rookie Amy Ruengmateekhun, who has battled weight issues for a long time, has been confined by a mentally debilitating fear of getting in better physical shape. The fear was so real that she has a hard time expressing it without becoming emotional.
Now, she is embracing the challenge of getting in better shape in order to reach her ultimate goal, the LPGA Tour.
Ruengmateekhun finally was able to address her fear after Stage II of LPGA Qualifying Tournament. She missed advancing by two strokes and knew her game belonged with the top 85. It all came down to one word – motivation.
“Missing 2nd stage hurt, but it could possibly be the best thing to happen to me,” said Ruengmateekhun. “I know how close I am and the miss gave me the push to get in the gym and get in better shape.”
Fitness and healthy eating has always been something Ruengmateekhun has struggled with. While at Oklahoma State, she was motivated to workout because she was surrounded by supportive coaches and teammates. Once she graduated, finding the motivation to get in the gym became difficult.
Now, Ruengmateekhun is motivated to change and has concrete reasons why she wants to improve her overall health.
“I want to live a long life and be able to play this sport for a long time,” said Ruengmateekhun after day three of her workout regimen on Friday. “My goal is to be on the LPGA Tour and at Stage II when they changed the rules to walking I noticed I was getting tired. On the LPGA, you have to do that every single week.”
“If my goal is to play on the LPGA, I have to figure out a way to start and end tournaments with the same energy each week.”
When Ruengmateekhun got home from Venice, Florida she took one day to make a plan for the offseason. She has worked out each day since, sometimes even twice a day, and plans to workout in some form seven days a week.
“I knew my golf game was ready for final stage, but my performance wasn’t as good as I thought it would be,” said the 24-year-old Ruengmateekhun. “It made me realize the reason I didn’t advance was because my physical shape wasn’t there. I was missing greens from 90-yards that I don’t usually.”
Ruengmateekhun has always been active. She grew up playing soccer, volleyball and basketball. Even her parents were both physical education majors in Thailand and both were athletes. In fact, her dad was a star college basketball player in Thailand.
“My dad was so proud of me when I told him of my plans and that motivates me too,” said Ruengmateekhun, whose best finish on Tour was a tie for 12th at the Mission Health Wellness Classic. “I want to live a long healthier life and accomplish goals with my parents next to me.”
Like many people in the U.S. and around the world, over eating is a major part of her problem. It doesn’t help that the family owns a Thai restaurant in Dallas that Amy has unlimited access to. Although the restaurant has healthy options, limiting portion sizes and eating better is something she knows is important in addition to the physical component.
Ruengmateekhun has also received motivation from an unexpected source, her younger brother Jamie, a sophomore on the golf team at Bishop Lynch, Amy’s former high school. Jamie caddied for Amy on the final day of Q-School stage II and the duo vowed to workout together this offseason.
“He (Jamie) saw I was struggling physically and mentally (at Q-School) and we talked after the round and he told me how good I could be if I just got in better shape,” said Ruengmateekhun. “He also told me that he would workout with me and that was motivating. He’s not huge on working out either so it’s great that we can motivate each other.”
Her brother is not the only Bishop Lynch golfer Amy is working with. In the spring, she began to volunteer as an assistant coach at her old high school. Amy said that watching the team improve from not being able to break 400 to finishing second and third in back-to-back events also has been a motivating factor.
“Those girls in high school don’t really work out much, so I want to be able to motivate them on the course and in the gym,” said Ruengmateekhun. “To see the team improve from not being able to break 400 to players shooting in the 80’s makes me so happy and it motivates me more than they know.”
In addition to shedding weight and getting in better shape, Ruengmateekhun has one more goal. Remember the 1-mile run you had to complete in high school under a certain time? She dreaded that day.
“I have a goal to be able to jog a mile without walking,” said Ruengmateekhun. “I was only able to do it once my sophomore year at Oklahoma State, but I’ve always struggled with it. I want to be able to do it this offseason.”
Ruengmateekhun knows the process will require baby steps at first, but she is more motivated than ever and ready to see results on and off the course.
“It was hard the first time when I did cardio, but this is exciting because I know how much better I can be as a golfer,” said Ruengmateekhun. “I also know how much better this whole process is going to be for my body in the long run and that is what I am looking forward to. I don't exactly have a set date to when I want to reach my goal, but as long as I stay motivated and get better everyday, I know I will be there in no time. ”Fear is hard to overcome. It’s sometimes even harder to express, especially in a public forum. With both set aside, Ruengmateekhun is someone to root for as she chases a lifelong dream.