The inaugural Tuscaloosa Toyota Classic is a homecoming for four University of Alabama alumna. One of their graduates, Lakareber Abe is excited to be back at her alma mater playing on the course she once called home.
“I completely loved my four years here,” said Abe. “Every time I get to come back people say, ‘welcome home.’ You forget because you leave, and it’s such a short period of time, but it really does feel like a piece of home. I love coming back.”
In the world of professional golf, some players opt out of college and begin their career immediately. Especially as the competition has risen throughout the years, some see college as a stunt to their maximum playing potential. Abe, however, saw college as a steppingstone rather than a stunt and decided it was best for her to attend the University of Alabama first.
“I got very lucky because my sister played college golf at Texas,” said Abe. “I had an idea of what I was getting into. Mic [Potter] and Susan [Rosenstiel] were very open and honest about if you want to turn pro and play after college, they’ll do everything they can to help prepare for that.”
After nine years, Abe still eagerly embraces the school as she did on her recruiting visits. She said her coaches, Potter and Rosenstiel, gave her all the tools she needed to succeed after college — responsibility and accountability being the hammer and the wrench.
“I had an incredible opportunity with the coaches I had and a school like this,” said Abe. “I know everyone is different, but the opportunity I had made it an easy decision.”
Studying accounting also gave Abe the opportunity for a career outside of the golf industry. Although she doesn’t see herself entering that world in the near future, Abe uses her background to calculate expenses, save money on the road and figure out what she needs to do at each tournament to make money.
“There’s just always an opportunity to do something new,” said Abe. “To have a background in something you like and make it easier to transition [out of a golf career] is helpful.”
Being a student-athlete was another thing that helped Abe transition into the “adult world” easier. Rather than focus on the negative parts of the game, Abe had to leave the emotion on the course and switch her brain to study mode.
“I think it helped not being so focused on golf all the time,” said Abe. “I think that’s something a lot of us struggle with when we get out here. Golf is your job, but you don’t have to make it your life.”
Playing at what used to be her home course allows Abe to enjoy her time in Tuscaloosa a little more than the usual tournament. She feels that the familiarity gives her both an advantage and a slight disadvantage this week.
“It’s definitely always helpful when you’ve played a course so many times,” said Abe. “I was telling my old coach the other day that I don’t know if I should go too serious or know that I’ve played this before and know where to hit it.”
With a little more ease to her practice schedule, Abe has time to see and do the things she missed most about Tuscaloosa. She plans to go to all of her favorite restaurants but is missing a key part of her old experience – sports.
“Obviously football is huge here,” said Abe. “It’s bigger than anything I’ve ever seen in Texas. But what shocked me the most was that Alabama does a really good job of supporting all of the sports. I really wish there was a game in town this week.”
Although Abe won’t be able to attend any live events this week, she’ll be able to support the football team and let out a loud ‘Roll Tide’ during the Meet the Pros party in Bryant-Denny Stadium.