Busy Week Off

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For those of you who don’t know, I am now writing a bi-weekly blog for the Symetra Tour website. I’d imagine most of you saw it on there, but for those of you who didn’t, I’ll post it here on my website, also.  I hope you enjoy getting an insight into my life on Tour.

Busy Week Off

First of all, I would like to take a moment to send my thoughts and prayers to all those affected by the tragedy that took place in Orlando early on Sunday morning. I know for a lot of us on the Symetra tour, this has hit relatively close to home. Orlando is a hub for a lot of professional golfers and it was a place I called home for a little while. It is in times like this that we must stand united, spread more love and less hate. Pray for Orlando.

After my top 10 finish in Albany, NY, I hopped in the car and drove as far as I could that day. I was trying to get to Indianapolis by 5pm on Monday night as I had a flight to Los Angeles. I managed to drive 8 hours and then I had to stop. It was definitely tough after having been up since 5am and playing 18 holes, but I was riding on a high from my best finish of the year so far. I was flying to LA to work with my coach for a few days. Obviously it’s difficult for us to work together in person very often due to her being in California, but I will try and go as much as I can with the weeks off we have. I also had the opportunity to meet with my trainer while I was out there too. I was really excited to see both of them to see how much progress I had made in the last few months. I’ve worked really hard, both with my swing, and in the gym so I was desperate to see some evidence of that. One of the first things my coach says, after a few shots, was that my clubhead speed was up too 100mph+. I was shocked when she told me. It was between 93-95mph 3 months ago. My coach told me it would normally take 12 months to gain that much clubhead speed. This was not something I had focused on as I felt I hit it far enough, but a little extra distance was only going to be a good thing. This was a great start to the week. However, my driver had been so inconsistent the past few weeks that the extra clubhead was being wasted. My coach and I spent a lot of time last week working on my driver technique. For as long as I can remember, I have always liked to hit a fade, which means with the driver, I hit down on it. This is not ideal, as I will automatically lose distance. In order to start hitting up on the ball without changing my swing, we just changed my setup. She wanted my left hip higher, which in turn tilted my shoulders. We also changed the ball position in relation to the clubface. I was hitting a lot of shots on the heel so I moved further away from the ball to encourage me to make contact with the center of the club. This made a huge difference, and is now something I just need to get used to. This won’t take long with the amount of balls I hit on the range. I also wanted to work on my chipping while I was out there because that is a part of my game that has really been a struggle this season. Chipping used to be the best part of my game, so it was really starting to frustrate me that it has been so inconsistent. I just always felt uncomfortable. It took my coach about 5 minutes to fix it. Ball position was too far back which was making the strike on the ball inconsistent which would explain why my distance with chipping was so off. So that was easy. She also had a quick look at my putting and I just need to keep my head down longer through the stroke. I knew there wasn’t too much wrong with my putting stroke as I have really putted well this year, especially in the last couple of months. However, it is always nice to be reassured that it looks as good as it feels.

The rest of our time together was spent on the mental game. I have really had to work hard to get my mental game in check, as it has been all over the place the past couple of years. I’ve lacked a lot of focus and confidence, but according to my coach, I have made huge improvements since we started working together in September. It’s always exciting when I start to see my hard is work paying off.

I was also able to see progress with the workouts I had been doing. I am training with Andrea Doddato, who has worked with a large number of PGA and LPGA players. She definitely knows her stuff. It’s really quite impressive to see. I had always heard great things about her and now I get to experience it for myself. When I first met with her in March, through her testing, she was able to identify that my thoracic rotation and glute activation needed a lot of improvement. Two very crucial parts of the golf swing. The changes I’ve made in my swing have been made so much easier, and at a faster rate than normal, due to the work I’ve been putting in at the gym. Andrea tested me again and was able to see some improvements in both of those areas, so that confirmed what my coach had noticed. It is such a satisfying feeling to know hard work pays off and that both my coach and trainer can see the difference. Andrea gave me a whole new workout program to start working on, which has definitely been kicked up a notch. I’ll be sure to keep you updated on those in the coming weeks.

I also managed to have a lot of fun while I was out in the LA. My friend works in Sound Production and is working on the remake of “One Day At A Time’, at Sony Studios. She showed me all around the studios. I was able to see where Chelsea Handler was filming her new show. I absolutely love Cheslea, so that was a very exciting to see! Then I watched the filming of the show and was part of the studio audience. It was an amazing experience to see what goes on behind the scenes of just one episode of the show. We were watching for almost 4 hours! It was very interesting to see all the people involved and the amount of work that goes into these shows that only take 30 minutes to watch. Very eye opening.

I also had the opportunity to experience Korean BBQ with my friend Marina, who also plays on Symetra. This was my first time trying it and it was delicious. I was brought up to be very adventurous with food, so it was cool to experience a culture I had never had the opportunity to try before. It definitely helped having Marina ordering and explaining what everything was. I just ate whatever was put in front of me. Some of it I liked, and some not much! Tofu is not my thing so I avoided anything with that in it!

So all in all, my week off was great. A work hard, play hard, sort of week, which was different from my usual weeks off. I’m very thankful I have such a great team behind me, and wonderful friends in my life. I have a feeling these next few months are going to be great, both on and off the golf course so watch this space. 

Donald Ross Wins Again

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WOW! What a golf course Sara Bay is. If you’ve never had the opportunity to play a Donald Ross designed course, then let me just tell you, his favorite thing to do is make a green like a big upside down bowl. There are very few flat spots. The greens are also huge so there were quite a few times I had a 40ft putt or more, and they are not easy two putts. With the pins where they were this week, it’s even possible to putt off the green… believe me I did it this week! Haha. You only have to hit the putt 4ft too hard and you’ll be chipping again. Just crazy.

My host family are members, and the first year I played at Sara Bay, their biggest piece of advice was don’t go over the green. They were not wrong about that. You’d think after a few years, I’d have that drilled in by now! Almost all the greens slope severely at the back of the green. You’re very unlikely to get up and down from past the pin, and the chances are relatively high that, you could end up off the front of the green again. So if you were following the live scoring this week, this will hopefully give you a little insight as to why the scores were so high. On top of that, it was really windy the first day with gusts up to 30mph. It was pretty windy Saturday and Sunday too, it just didn’t seem so bad after day 1.

So needless to say, the course kicked everyone’s butt this week. For the winner to finish level par after 3 rounds says a lot about Sara Bay, Donald Ross, and the conditions this week. Although, it’s fun to play a challenging course every once in a while, I’m looking forward to playing the Links at Stoney Point where there should hopefully be a few more birdie opportunities!

After my first 3 weeks back on Tour, I’ve come to the conclusion that sometimes golf is just hard. No reason why this is the case, it just is. I’m working harder than ever, both physically and mentally, I feel great during practice rounds, and I feel like I make good swings while I’m competing, but I can’t help but think the ball has a mind of it’s own. Sometimes I look up after hitting a shot and think to myself, and occasionally out loud, ‘where on earth is that going?’ Obviously this is extremely frustrating at times, but my coach is just reminding me that it’s golf, and I’ve just got to keep riding the waves. There will always be up and downs that we can’t control, it’s how we handle them that’s more important. Although my frustration has got the best of me after a few rounds, overall, I’m really happy with the start to my season. 2 of out 3 cuts made with my game being a little rusty is nothing to complain about.

We have a week off this week, and I know what I need to work on… Short game, short game, short game! We always say it, but it is definitely true. However, my first priority will be sleep and rest. Our brains and bodies go through a lot of stress in a 3 week stretch, so it’s going to be important to recharge before I start getting ready for the next stretch of events.

This time next week I will be writing my blog from Greenwood. See you all soon!

Special Week In Florida

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This week we were in Fort Myers, Florida for the Chico’s Patty Berg Memorial. This is always a very special week for women’s golf and for the Symetra tour, as it is named after one of the 13 Founders of the LPGA. Patty Berg was a very dominant part of the founding of the LPGA and her 15 major title wins remain the all-time record for most major wins by a female golfer. It is a real honor to be able to play in this tournament. The ladies from the Legend’s tour also joined us on the course this weekend. Although I didn’t get the results I was hoping for, it was still great to be able to be on the practice green next to players I watched on TV when I first started playing golf; Lori Kane, Meg Mallon, Beth Daniel, and Nancy Lopez to name a few.

During Friday’s round on my 17th hole there was a special moment I want to tell you about.   Across the pond from the 17th was the 12th tee where Nancy Lopez was playing her practice round. I was in the greenside bunker and after hitting a great bunker shot (no the special moment was not my great bunker shot) that ran on a few more feet than I planned, my caddy says to me “Nancy Lopez just watched you hit that shot.” If you were looking at my face you’d have thought I won the lottery! I will cherish that moment for quite some time. Having the Legend’s play with us is a great way for us to get to know them better, pick their brains about what tour life was like for them, and hear any advice they may have to share. They will also being playing the event in Greenwood and I really encourage you to come out and watch. These ladies are not only amazing talents but also very engaging with the fans. If I can have half the abilities and accomplishments of these women are when I’m older, I will be very proud of myself.

This week we were also given the opportunity to see the movie made about the 13 Founders of the LPGA. Being from England, I didn’t know much about these American women who sacrificed a lot in order to become Professional golfers and build their own tour. In my years on the Symetra tour, I have learned little bits here and there about some of these women. We are always reminded to ‘think like Founders’ and to ‘leave the tour better than you found it,’ but I never fully understood that until I saw this movie. Stacy Lewis and Karrie Webb were the Executive Producers and did a wonderful job depicting what it was like in those days to even play golf as a woman, never mind trying to make it your profession. It was really eye opening to see what they had to go through and sacrifice in order to form the tour. Interestingly enough, they never saw it as a sacrifice and believed simply you if you love what you do you should go after what you want. It was a great reminder that I am very fortunate to play golf as a profession and I would not be able to do this had it not been for these 13 women, their love of golf and their fight to make the LPGA a reality. Unfortunately, only 3 of these women are still alive today. I am hopeful I will one day get the opportunity to meet them and thank them for their hard work and determination.

I’m really hoping this movie will be released to the public as I think it would be great for people to hear their story. This wasn’t just about golf, it was about women’s rights and standing up for what they deserved. I am going to be emailing Mike Whan, the commissioner of the LPGA, and Mike Nichols, the Chief Business Operator of the Symetra tour this week to advocate that this movie be available to buy. I know so many people who would love to learn more about these 13 special ladies.

Sometimes we all need a little reminder of how lucky we are to do what we do and it’s impressive to see how far we have come. This was certainly a good one for me and I also know I have a part in making things better than I found them!

The Season Is Upon Us

Hello everyone!

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Well it’s been a while since I wrote a blog, but I’m back now. Yay! For those of you who didn’t know, I went home to Jersey (England) in November and was planning to stay until the beginning of January. I needed to renew my Visa so I figured the best option would be to do it from home, especially since I was told it would only take 30 days. Four months later, I was finally able to return to the US with a few weeks to spare before the start of the season. Obviously, this was not part of the original plan, but hey, that’s life. Things don’t always go the way we expect or want them to.

This extended time at home turned out to be just what I needed this offseason. I was able to spend a lot of time with my mum, and since I was the only child at home this trip, I got a lot of attention. It’s been quite a long time, if ever, when it was just my mum and I. For the most part I enjoyed the attention, but there were definitely a couple of moments I would have liked to have my siblings around to take the heat away from me! Haha. During my time at home, I was lucky enough to visit my family in Scotland which was great as it had been about 5 years since I saw many of them. I also got to spend Christmas in Paris with my mum and siblings which was really special as we don’t all get together very often. It was nice to be able to get away from golf for some time and just put things in perspective again. As much as I love golf, it’s important for me to step away from the game and spend time with the important people in my life.

I spent most of my offseason working on my fitness in the gym. There were some weeks I managed to fit in 10 workouts! Many days I was working out twice a day and I absolutely loved it! I was determined this year to get fitter and stronger and also fine-tune my nutrition as much as possible. I was mostly doing spinning, pilates, and golf workouts. I felt the combination really covered all the bases for my overall fitness, but also helped make my golf swing more efficient and powerful.

When it came to my golf game this offseason, I spent most of my time making changes to my golf swing. As most of you already know, I started working with a great coach in California and I had the opportunity to spend a few days working on my game with her right before I went home in November. This got my offseason off to a great start and gave me a lot of things to focus on in practice. We were able to cover all parts of the game, and started to make some important changes to my swing. My swing has always been pretty solid, but these changes have made it much more consistent and also more powerful, which is an added bonus. I feel great about my swing heading into the season. I’ve included a picture at the bottom of my blog to show you the changes that have been made.

Once I got my new visa, I was fortunate to be able to fly straight to California from home to spend a week with my coach just before the start of the season. We made a few small adjustments to the swing, but spent most of the time talking about the mental game and fine-tuning my short game… the most important parts! We worked on finding some strategies to make things as simple as possible for the season ahead. This included, scheduling for tournaments weeks, fun things I could do to get away from golf, how many practice rounds I should play etc.

When I first met my coach, Alison, in September, I was completely lost in life and golf. I didn’t know what direction I was heading or what made me happy anymore. It was a tough place to be and meeting her could not have come at a better time. Since working with her, I truly believe I am happier and more confident than I’ve ever been. Alison’s greatest teaching trait is that she continually reminds me to figure things out on my own. She believes students learn a lot more by trying to figure things out instead of being told all the answers. I couldn’t agree more. At the beginning this was tough; my confidence was low and I was struggling to believe in myself, however, I wouldn’t want it any other way now. She has given me all the tools I need for both life and golf, but she will also be there for me when I need a small reminder along the way. People always say everything happens for a reason, and as tough as this is sometimes, it really is true.

I have never been more excited about life and golf! I cannot wait to see what this year has to offer both on and off the golf course. I hope you continue to follow me along this journey. A lot of great things are going to be happening this year. Thank you to all my supporters around the world. It really means a lot to me.

Don’t forget that you can start watching live scoring THIS WEEK on www.symetratour.com