When I was 14 years old, I qualified for my first U.S. Women's Open. It was at that point that I realized golf could potentially be my career.
I played well in my junior competitions, and I started to garner attention from universities all over the United States.
In 2013, I began my college golf journey at the University of Southern California. They provided me with all the resources needed to prepare me for playing golf at the professional level.
To those on the outside, it appeared that my golf game was ready for success at the next stage. I never could have imagined quitting the sport that gave me so much early success and a plethora of opportunities.
But that's exactly what I did in 2019.
After two and a half years on the Epson Tour, I was done.
I had nothing left.
My love and passion for golf never deteriorated, but I started to realize maybe professional golf was no longer for me.
Earning my spot
I was happy with my game at USC, especially as a freshman. We had a team stacked with amazing talent – including Sophia Popov and Annie Park, who are both now on the LPGA.
It was an incredible experience to learn from these talented players and improve my game.
I worked hard all season and was motivated to be included with the top players.
After performing well, I thought I would be given an opportunity to compete in the biggest tournaments at the end of the season. This included the conference championship, regional championship, and NCAA championship.
However, when I received the news that I didn't make the active roster for those tournaments, I was devastated.
I was fortunate to experience a lot of success at a young age in golf, so I wasn't used to this.
It's not that I wanted a spot on the roster handed to me, but I thought I had played well enough to be included in those post-season tournaments. I felt like I could help my team win.
I guess I was wrong.
It was an eye-opener for me. I thought to myself, if the competition is this strong at the collegiate level, what's the professional level going to look like?
While disappointed, I came back the next fall laser-focused with the goal of gaining a spot on the team for those big events at the end of the season — which I earned during my sophomore year.
You could say I turned a negative into a positive. But, honestly, qualifying and earning my spot was more of a relief to me than anything.
I wasn't looking to prove anything to anyone but myself.
I wanted to prove that I belonged on that stage and could compete with the best of the best.
A bogey in my dream
I knew going from college to the pros would be a bit of a challenge, especially the expenses and travel.
During college, your university takes care of those things.
At the professional level, the biggest takeaway for me was — this is how I make my living now. I am no longer playing in college invitationals where, if I don't play well, I can just shake it off and move on to the next one.
That was a scary place to be, but at the same time, playing professional golf and having the chance to earn my LPGA card was my dream.
I turned pro in June 2017.
I competed on the Epson Tour for two seasons.
I would experience some highs and quite a few lows.
A particularly pivotal moment came during the fall of 2019 when I didn’t advance to the second stage of Q school by a single stroke.
I took this as a sign. It was evident to me at this point that professional golf did not have a place for me. I wasn't playing well enough to support myself.
As far as competitive golf was concerned, I put away my clubs with no intention of ever going back.
Starting over from scratch
The problem with quitting golf was I didn’t have a backup plan. I took a few different jobs with a media company. Then I tried out working at a skincare company.
They were positive experiences and helped pay the bills, but my heart wasn't in it.
My heart was still committed to golf.
After quitting 18 months prior, I decided to give professional golf one more shot in early 2021.
I didn’t want to go through life living with regret and always wondering, "what if?"
One major issue was I lost my previous status on the Epson Tour. I couldn’t just jump back where I left off in 2019. I ended up playing on minitours to get my status back on the Epson Tour.
Taking it one swing at a time, I moved my way back up in 2022 and finished seventh on the Epson Tour money list to earn my 2023 LPGA Tour membership.
I'm officially an LPGA member. Something that won’t seem real until I'm standing on the tee box for the first LPGA tournament.
As that teenage girl playing in the U.S. Open, I always dreamed of that moment and making the sport I loved my career, but I never would have imagined reaching my dream quite like this.
From achieving success at such a young age, to quitting the sport entirely, there were so many unforeseen twists and turns along the way. But I wouldn't change any of it for the world.
I'm thankful for every eagle, birdie, bogey, and even double bogey that life has thrown my way.
But now, I can't wait to see what the LPGA Tour is like.