I'm going to cut right to the chase because a lot of people have been asking me this question the past 2 weeks (including players!): "Why aren't you playing in any Symetra Tour events?!"
The answer is quite simple: My status for the 2019 season isn't very good. I'm pretty positive I will get into a few tournaments this year and hopefully more if I can make some cuts and get reshuffled to a higher status. But until then, it's a wait and see game.
Even though I didn't play in the first 2 Symetra Tour events of the season in Florida, I was actually there. For the 1st tournament, I waited the whole day to get in. The first alternate got in because someone had to withdraw due to injury, but I knew that it was highly unlikely that anyone else would withdraw. For the 2nd tournament, I got to the course and counted that there were already 4 other alternates who were ranked higher than me waiting so I didn't stay the whole day. But that's basically what you do as an alternate. You go to the course and wait to see if you will get in or not. Sometimes up to 2-3 people will withdraw the day of the 1st round while at other times, nobody does. It's really unpredictable.
But I didn't just spend my whole time in Florida waiting around. I actually played in a tournament on the NWGA Tour! It actually has a title sponsor now so it's technically Eggland's Best Ladies Professional Golf Tour. But I always call it NWGA because that's what I've always know it as and the new name is quite a mouthful! :P
The tournament was at West Orange Country Club in Winter Garden, Florida which is where I played my last NWGA event in 2016 when I had first turned pro! Go figure! It felt like everything had come full circle -- returning to where I last left the NWGA Tour in a similar position of not knowing when I would get into a Symetra Tour event.
It was really nice to see a lot of familiar faces that I haven't seen in years! Two of my former teammates from Indiana, players from Ontario that I hadn't seen since junior golf, and players who I've befriended during my time on the Symetra Tour. But that wasn't all! It was nice seeing some Canadian rules officials again like Gayle Faulkner and Gerry Bower who I haven't seen since 2016! I was also super impressed with what Scott Walker (the tour president/organizer) has done to make this tour grow and become a real development tour. To get a title sponsor and be able to offer even better prize money and opportunities to play for professional women's golf is a lot of hard work. He has really done a great job with what few resources he has.
For the actual tournament, I played better than I expected!
#1 - It was only my 3rd, 4th and 5th rounds of the year, so I wasn't expecting to break any records. But I felt like I easily got right back into the groove of tournament play even though I hadn't played a tournament in 4 months!
#2 - I genuinely had a really great time! I really enjoyed playing and the ups and downs of the game. Some things were frustrating (which is how golf works!), but every hole brought new opportunities to score again and be creative!
#3 - I made birdies! I made 10 birdies over 3 rounds which was really exciting for me since I struggled with making birdies last year! I know I could've made a lot more, but I had a few issues with putting (which I have fixed now!). I also almost made 2 hole-in-ones and I hit my wedges like I actually knew what I was doing!
#4 - I wasn't scared to swing. 3 year ago when I played this course, every treeline, bunker, pond and out of bounds looked like glaring traps ready to swallow me up. But when I played it again this time, I didn't feel like that. I just saw where I wanted to go and swung. Given I didn't always go where I intended, but I wasn't afraid to just let the ball fly and deal with the result after. Last year left me with a lot of anxiety when I played tournaments because I was not able to physically make as many birdies and shoot the scores I wanted to. I had lost all control of my yardages and shot shaping due to my clubs, and I had lost distance over the course of the year. So to be able to swing freely (with my new clubs I got over the off season :D) let me regain that joy from hitting the ball and watching it do exactly what I wanted it to do in the air.
If I had to sum up this tournament into a phrase it would be "a blessing in disguise". I've been working on A LOT of different things over the off season and to be able to put them into competition was exciting and a little bit nerve wracking, but mostly exciting. The best part was that I didn't have the pressure that I would normally feel when I play in a Symetra event to shoot low so I was able to really commit to all the things I wanted to put into play. So even though I didn't get into either Symetra event, I don't consider it a loss at all.
I can't really put my finger on it, but this year is going to be different. I can feel it. I mean it's already different since I'm in a position that I haven't been in for a while. It's a "let go and let God" moment that has taken over and it's exhilarating! It's an adventure where I literally have no idea what's going to happen! I can't even tell you the next tournament I will play in because I just don't know! My mom might disagree with me describing this uncertainty as "exhilarating", but who has ever been able to control the future anyways?!
So the 3rd time definitely was not the charm last year, but maybe the 4th time's the charm!? Or maybe it's not luck I need at all, but rather the mindset to see that I'm already blessed beyond belief and everything from here on out is nothing but blessings heaped upon more blessings!
Thanks for reading!! Happy golfing in 2019!