There's just something about the sport of golf that's always drawn me in. While I loved basketball and played other sports as a kid, I kept coming back to golf. I really enjoyed the challenge, because golf is not an easy sport. There's always something you can work on, whether it's putting, driving, or chipping.
I have to credit that competitive spirit to my dad, who started teaching me how to play when I was six years old. As I grew up and got older, my internal drive to get better and better at golf just kept growing, too.
After every tournament, my dad and I would talk about where I needed to improve. He was my travel buddy, my caddie, and my coach at the same time – so we set some goals together.
Ever since I got to middle school, the goal was to get a college golf scholarship.
I'll never forget my dad's reaction when I told him I was going to Middle Tennessee State, a school not far from our hometown of Knoxville. He was ecstatic. That's why he's my biggest fan. He loves golf so much, and it means the world to him to see me out there.
While my challenges and goals in golf have changed over the years, I still call him for help today.
It wasn't long ago that one of those conversations involved another tough decision about my future.
What do I do now?
I had a great experience in college thanks to my wonderful teammates. We even won a conference title during my senior year.
It's awesome to be able to look back and think of all those great memories and years that helped me develop my skills even further. But, once I got done with college, it wasn't quite sure what my next chapter should look like.
Sure, I loved playing golf and wanted to keep going. But at the same time, I was realistic enough and knew how tough of a challenge it would be. And frankly, I just wasn't sure if I had what it took to succeed in pro golf.
Besides, I was really bought into the idea of being an assistant coach somewhere. But, at the end of the day, I knew I'd probably regret it if I didn't at least try.
So, I made a commitment and decided to go to Q-School.
My first tour
I didn't feel a ton of pressure if it didn't work out. In the back of my head, I knew I could always give that coaching route a try. But before I knew it, I made it all the way to Stage III, allowing me to compete on the Epson Tour.
It meant the world to me, not going to lie. It was awesome that the opportunity came so quickly for me. I was able to play in so many tournaments, travel around the country, and be a professional like I always wanted to be.
That kept me going for a couple of years until 2019 when I lost some of my professional status and wasn't sure what the next step was for me.
It was time to think about my future again.
Putting it all together
To make ends meet, I started working at a golf course doing basic cart maintenance. Once they let me start giving some golf lessons, I fell in love with that aspect of the game right away. As mentioned before, there was always something about coaching that really fascinated me.
At the same time, I also decided that I should get my PGA membership because I had reignited my passion for playing golf as well as coaching it.
I achieved that in two years and started coaching at the Fairways and Greens in my hometown of Knoxville, which was a great opportunity for me. It was perfect because I made my own schedule as a teacher, and the breaks would allow me to keep playing as an LPGA professional.
When I qualified for the KPMG women's championship last year, the joy and accomplishment I felt was indescribable.
I mean, just a few years ago, I'd lost my professional status. I had no idea if I'd ever play in a big tournament again. And then, I qualified for the KPMG Women's PGA Championship, the biggest event I had ever played in.
Last year, my first time, was the most nervous I'd ever felt on the golf course. Of course, it was awesome, but it was just all so new to me. I don't think I played to the best of my ability, so now I'm so excited to redeem myself this time around.
I'm feeling good now, but I know once I step on that course again, I'll get that same feeling of nerves, adrenaline, and excitement. Just thinking about it is already giving me chills!
Being able to play in the KPMG Women's Championship has to be the defining moment of my career so far. It's been such an unreal experience. I'm so thankful that the PGA and LPGA let us do it.
Now, it's up to me to make it a tournament that I'll remember forever.