Madeleine Sheils’ answer to the puzzle of finding success on the Epson Tour is consumed with interesting off-course excursions, a pastime that has helped move the Boise, Idaho, native to the cusp of the top 10 and a spot on the 2016 LPGA.
For example, when the Epson Tour transitioned from the West Coast to Florida earlier this year, Sheils and friends Cara Freeman and Britney Hamilton separately drove the 2,300 miles in three days and one morning during Masters Tournament weekend, communicating via walkie-talkies and using only code names as they cruised from Phoenix to Ft. Myers, Fla. Later this spring, Sheils explored the Asheville, N.C., area and shared videos of cannonballs in waterfalls. Those, and other exploits, are shared on her blog at madeleinesheils.com as a means of keeping in touch with friends, family, fans and investors who are supporting her career.
“Just about anywhere I go, I do something that does not involve golf,” Sheils said. “I’m just trying to enjoy life. I spend a lot of time very focused on my golf game. It would be a shame to visit all these great places and see nothing but the golf course. You’ve got to enjoy the ride.”
Sheils’ ride in golf began in Boise, home of Boise State football and its famous blue turf and also Hillcrest Country Club, the longtime site of the Albertsons Boise Open on the Web.com Tour. She participated in the tournament’s junior clinic for years and met Skins Game participants Nancy Lopez and Michelle Wie when they stopped off in Boise prior to the tournament.
Golf became her dominant sport in high school and she chose to attend Nebraska where she excelled as a golfer and student, earning a degree in Philosophy and being recognized four times as an Academic All-American. In the fall of 2012 she qualified for the 2013 Epson Tour via the LPGA Qualifying Tournament. Sheils’ first start in 2013 resulted in a win on the Phoenix-based Cactus Tour – by one stroke over current LPGA member Sadena Parks – and she was off in her career. The climb up the ladder has seen a 50th-place Epson Tour money list finish in 2013, 40th last year and much more improvement this season.
The third season on the Epson Tour, in particular early May and June, has been glorious. Sheils, 25, finished fifth at the Self Regional Healthcare Foundation Classic in Greenwood, S.C., the richest tournament of the season, thanks to a final-round 67. Three weeks later, she moved north to the FireKeepers Casino Hotel Championship in Battle Creek, Mich., and had her top professional moment, winning with a final-round rally. The finish suited her nickname “Mad Dog” with a bogey-free 68 and birdies on two of the last four holes.
“I can tend to be feisty sometimes,” Sheils said. “Just look at how I played at Battle Creek. I was four behind through 11 holes on Sunday, and I stuck my heels in and hung around and won the event.
“I guess my nickname suits my personality on the golf course. And it’s an apt description off the course, since I stick up for what I believe and speak my mind.”