This year was the first time that I have made it to Final Stage! Every year I seem to get a little closer to the LPGA. My first year of Q School, I was one shot shy of making it through Stage 1. My 2nd year of Q School, I was 1 shot shy of making it through Stage 2. And this year, I was 2 shots shy of making it to the final day of Final Stage. I'm getting there slowly but surely!
If you've ever experienced the Final Stage by either playing in it or watching it unfold, it's a pretty intense experience. There's no playing around. Everyone is focused. Everyone wants their LPGA tour card. Everyone wants to be successful and make THAT call to their family and friends on the last day. It's the real deal.
We play two different courses. Two times each and then there's a cut of 70 and ties for the final round. So it's basically like a regular tournament except you've got to make two cuts to get your LPGA card which is handed out to the top 45 and ties (top 20 get full status and the rest get conditional status). A lot of people view golf as a marathon and not a sprint, but Final Stage really feels like a sprint. It's like everything you've worked for comes down to just 5 rounds of golf. And when you compare that to the whole season, it doesn't seem like very much time at all. But even though it feels more "sprint" like, it's still golf. It's still one shot at a time.
So my big goal was obviously to get my LPGA tour card, but I was happy just to be having the experience in the first place. I truly was ready to just let God take the reins on this one. I wanted to enjoy the whole experience and learn about myself in a situation that I had never been in before. I knew the competition was going to be top notch since there were players who had played on Solheim Cups and the LPGA tour in previous seasons, and top ranked amateurs and pros from around the world. So I was just going to have to do my best.
This was also only the 2nd time I had a professional caddie since we are required to have one for Final Stage. We got along very well and I learned a lot about how to be decisive and specific. These may seem like weird things to learn from a caddie, but are definitely things I'm planning on using in the future. Being decisive is so key when you have a caddie. Telling my caddie "yes" and "ok" when I fully agreed to hit a certain shot or putt made me more confident to hit it and also way more okay with the outcome, regardless if it was good or bad. And when we didn't agree, I had to explain why and accept if I was right or wrong right there and then which also made me more confident in what we decided to do. Being specific also makes communication between player and caddie so much easier. Telling my caddie exactly what I wanted to do made our relationship much easier to manage. Whether it was saying how I wanted my clubs arranged in the bag or what spot on the green I was aiming at. We had to be specific about what we were saying so we could have a good outcome. In reality, it's important to do both of these things by yourself anyways. You want to be as decisive and specific over every shot as you can be.
In terms of my actual play, I played well collectively. If I could've thrown out 4 swings and made a few more putts, I might have been writing this blog as an LPGA tour member. But I'm not going to let 4 bad swings and a of couple putts hold me back because I had plenty of good ones. And that was my attitude the whole tournament. I had an amazing sense of patience and calmness all four days. I only got slightly irritated after I chunked two 70 yard wedge shots 20 yards. But otherwise, it felt like I had no reason to be angry or impatient. The way I felt playing those 4 rounds of golf is the way I want to feel all the time. It’s like I had finally learned to just let go of a shot once it had been hit. It’s one of the hardest things to do in golf -- not react excessively. And if that's the only thing I learned about myself from Final Stage, then I am 100% satisfied!
As I look back on Final Stage, it would be quite easy to label my attempt as a failure since I didn't reach the goal of getting my LPGA tour card. And to be honest, it would be incredibly easy to label my entire season a complete failure since I didn't even improve one position on the money list from last year. But somehow, I know that I have learned so much about my golf game and myself this year than I ever have. My success this year hasn't really been tangible. On paper, it looks like I'm flat-lining, but in my mind, I know that something has clicked. And that's how I know that success isn't always tangible.
Success. It’s not always a trophy, money, or status. Sometimes it can only be defined by an emotion or feeling. But most importantly, YOUR success cannot be defined or compared to anyone else's success. Society tells us that success is tangible and comparable and that's how you make it big in life. But why live by the world's definition of success? If I can define MY own success and understand what MY success looks like, then I have a greater chance of actually accomplishing MY goals and God given purpose in life. If I have learned anything from 2017, the most important thing is to find what YOUR success looks like. If you can do that, living is much less stressful. Failure doesn't look like failure anymore. Roadblocks only look like challenges ready to be taken down. And motivation is so much easier to find. So it's great if you want your success to include money, trophies and other tangible things, but never forget that oftentimes the greatest successes are those that have no accolade.
I hope everyone enjoyed this year's round of blogs! If I got a little too rant-like, I'm sorry! But this year has been eye-opening. I've watched some amazing players walk away from the game. Not because they aren't good enough, but because their happiness isn't dependent on the success of their professional golfing career anymore that they thought was their life-long goal. It's bittersweet -- knowing that friends are leaving the game but also that they want to achieve something different and better for themselves.
As we approach the holiday season (Christmas for me!), I just wanted to thank everyone who has been following along! I'm not exactly sure how many people actually follow my blog, but I can definitely feel your support! I wish all of you a safe and happy Christmas!