Just a fun fact before I get started. There have been 13 tournaments so far this year and there have been 13 different winners! That didn't happen my past two years on tour and it's a testament to how deep the fields are getting on the Road to the LPGA! Anyone can win at any time. You just have to have a little bit of extra magic that week!
Okay. Now I'll get this post started! If you didn't pick up on the title, I kind of copied the title of one of my favourite shows when I was a kid -- Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide. The show was all about how Ned and his friends were trying to figure out a list of some of the best advice to give to students in order to make it through high school successfully. It was a funny show mostly, but there were some really good tips! And now that we've just passed the midway point of the season, I felt it was appropriate to present you with ET's Declassified Symetra Tour Survival Guide!
#1. It's jokingly (maybe not) called the River to the LPGA for a reason
Never leave any of your rain gear in the car or at the hotel! There have been so many tournament sites that have said this phrase "It hasn't rained this much until this week!". The players started naming the tour "River" to the LPGA for a good reason. Even last week in Albany, it rained so hard there were water falls coming off the roofs of the clubhouse and cart barn running down to the 18th hole and flooding it. The main lesson is that even if it says 10% chance of rain, you should always bring every piece of rain gear you have.
#2. Know your limits
Every season, I convince myself that I'm going to be able to play 2 practice rounds before every tournament, get in a full practice session every day, and show my face in the gym. *insert rolling on the floor, laughing emoji here*. That NEVER lasts! By week 5, I'm usually down to 1 or 1.5 practice rounds, maybe one full practice session day, and what’s a gym? Here's the truth. Professional golf is really exhausting. The constant travel, packing and unpacking, practicing, playing and trying to get comfortable/oriented every week in a new place is relentless. You have to find a routine that is optimal for you to have enough rest while practicing/playing enough. It's a delicate and complicated formula that's always changing, but you have to know your limits or else burn out creeps up really quickly.
#3. You can only live on restaurant food for so long
Restaurant food tastes so good but there's no way I could last more than a week eating out every day for every meal. And who can afford it! I learned this so very fast out on tour. My mom and I usually try to get a hotel where we can cook or bring a rice cooker and a microwavable steamer so we can cook. It's healthier and you save a ton of money! A lot of players also stay in host housing where they can cook or their host offers to cook dinner for them or they stay in an Airbnb so they have a full kitchen. I might look a little weird carrying a kitchen around in my trunk, but it works!
#4. We won't bite! Unless you play slow
The Road to the LPGA is a really friendly place! If you need a ride to the course, to share a hotel room, someone to take a swing video, advice about rules or scheduling or anything really, or a buddy to go site-seeing with, the players are pretty open to all of it. We engage with spectators and try to make rookies feel welcome! We don't like people who think they rule the roost because out here we are all in this together. We are the ones who control how enjoyable the experience will be regardless of the circumstances that might occur. But if you play slow…you better be ready for someone to jump down your throat! It could be a rules official, but probably another player. Remember, we're all in this together. Slow play means everyone suffers.
#5. Sometimes you just gotta go for it
All competitive golfers are familiar with the concept of risk and reward shots. But at the professional level, this concept can be the difference between winning and missing a cut. I'm a pretty cautious player. I usually go for as little risk as possible and strike only when I have all green lights. And it works pretty well. I don't make big mistakes and I have scores usually around par. But do you know how many cuts I've missed because I wasn't aggressive enough? When I aimed for the middle of the green when I really could have been more aggressive. When I lagged a mid-length putt rather than tried to confidently make it. I can honestly tell you that this method of play does not win you tournaments. Sometimes you just gotta go for it! Be smart, but be an attacker. Try to make as many birdies and eagles as possible. Everyone knows that at any level of professional golf (i.e. LPGA, Symetra, PGA), if you win once, you are set for the season. Sometimes the anxiety/fear of not making the cut prevents you from playing the golf you want to. So just go for it!
#6. It's not going to be perfect
We all know it's pretty difficult to makes every cut. So why do we try to be so perfect?! This is related to #5, but sometimes we forget that mistakes are going to happen no matter how hard you try to be perfect and cautious. Every year on tour so far, I've managed to have a streak of at least 5 missed cuts in a row. It would be so easy to get down on myself and mope at how "wrong" everything is going. But when I get to the end of the season, I realize that no matter how the season has shaken out, it's been exactly what I've needed to learn and grow to become a better player and person. It's all about progression out here, not perfection. Roll with the punches and celebrate the little successes!
#7. Remember to have fun
This shouldn't be that hard since golf is game, but it's so easy to forget to have fun! When you're caught up in the money, rankings, missed cuts, errant shots, and missed putts, fun is the last thing that crosses your mind. No one said professional golf was going to be a piece of cake, but it's definitely meant to be fun! Enjoy shaping shots, striping drives, making insane up and downs, draining birdie and eagle putts, laughing with friends while walking down fairways, being immersed in natural beauty and reveling in the fact that golfing is your career! We shouldn't have to be reminded, but remember to have fun!!
So there it is! My very short survival guide for the Road to the LPGA. There are probably so many other things that could be on this survival guide, but these 7 things come to the forefront of my mind when I think about how my 3 seasons on tour have been going so far. Like I said earlier, no said it was going to be easy, but at least I'll be able to survive!
Thanks for reading!