The first Symetra Tour event of 2017 kicked off last weekend at Florida's Natural Charity Classic in Winter Haven, Florida and it was so good to be back! Anytime you can shoot under par is fantastic, but just being out playing on grass and with really good players is even better! And I've got to say, it was really great to see Olivia Jordan-Higgins back at the top of her game and sealing the win. For me, there were some amazing moments like birdieing the 1st hole of the tournament and holing out for birdie from the bunker on the last day. And there were some not-so-great moments, especially one in particular that shall not be named... But all in all, I learned a lot about where my game stands at the beginning of the season and what I need to watch for and work on. (Also, special shout out to Tricia Thomas from my home club -- Ladies -- who surprised me by coming out to watch!)
During the off-season, I practiced inside a golf dome back home in Toronto. My coach, Dave Woods, was a vital part of every week as I basically worked on grooving the swing I wanted that would be the most consistent and comfortable for me. I also spent quite a bit of time putting, chipping and bunkering (hitting bunker shots but I call it bunkering :D) because the dome I go to has all these wonderful things! Bret Lasky, the Symetra Tour's great "one-man-show" media man, did a quick interview with me in Winter Haven about some thoughts about the first tournament of the year (link: http://www.symetratour.com/videos/elizabeth-tong-ready-for-2017) and I mentioned not tinkering with my swing so much this season. (If you don't know, "tinkering" is basically changing little things in your swing all the time without actually knowing if they are going to work or if they are the proper thing to do.) Over the winter, Dave told me a great story about how Henrik Stenson was once asked about what he had done to play so well in 2013 to win the PGA and European tour season titles. And he said it was actually a culmination of 4 years of hard work where he followed a plan he and his coach had set out to do. He didn't tinker and let the process flow no matter the outcome. He was patient and it paid off. Granted it took 4 years, but it paid off immensely. I took great inspiration from this story because it's so easy to tinker in golf and change something when you aren't playing well. And I have been prone to doing this. So this year, it's all about the "no tinker" and always going back to my neutral when things get off track.
After the first Florida event of the season, I headed to southern California for event #2. But first, my dad and I made a small pit stop in Mesa, Arizona to see the IU Women's golf team as they competed in the Clover Cup! It was so great seeing my little freshies who are now juniors (I feel so old!), my other former teammates, and the newbies! I didn't tell any of them or my coaches that I was coming to watch so the surprised looks on their faces were priceless! Watching them reminded me about how I used to play my golf in college and how so much has changed. Not that what I did in college was incorrect; it was just part of the process of learning to get to where I am now.
After Arizona, we drove to California and it was a beautiful drive watching the sun set over the mountains. It's something this Ontarian doesn't usually get to see! I also got to visit my uncle and aunt who live just east of Los Angeles and experienced my favourite type of restaurant -- Hong Kong style Chinese -- the Californian way. It didn't disappoint! We also did a small driving excursion through the mountains in San Bernardino National Forest for fun and it was gorgeous! The views were breathtaking! But let me just say that I'm definitely not like Belle from Beauty in the Beast who sings "I'd like adventure in the great wide somewhere" because going up to 6000+ feet in elevation while on curvy mountainside roads is definitely not my forte. I think I'll stick to golf ;)
So as I prepare for event #2 which is set to start in Beaumont, California this weekend, I'm just as excited to hit the links as event #1. There's no other feeling in the world that compares to the feeling of the zone I get into when I play in a tournament. So yes, I'll take another round please!