As I drive through the Colorado plains toward my new home in Denver, I realize that I have now entered an unsettling but exciting limbo. Everything I have ever known of America has been framed by my experiences as a golfer at Duke University, and I now face the reality that many seniors before me have had to overcome, life between college and professional golf.
For some of you, this will be the first time you have ever read my name in print, so I guess I should use this as an opportunity to not-so-formerly introduce myself. My name is Alison Whitaker and I’m a 24 year old from Melbourne, Australia, who loves life, food, music and golf.
My adventures in the U-S-of-A started in 2005 when I traveled to play in the U.S. Women’s Amateur with the help of the Victorian Institute of Sport. As a result of my performance that week, I got recruited to play by Coach Dan Brooks at Duke University the following year. Until that trip I hadnt had the faintest idea about what college golf entailed, but it offered a great opportunity that I didnt have “Down Under,” so I journeyed to Durham, N.C., and stepped onto a varsity team filled with the likes of Anna Grzebien, Jennie Lee and Amanda Blumenherst; and let me say, I learned a lot. I learned how to win, how to study, how to lose, and I learned a lot about myself.
Alison Whitaker, 24, will file a weekly diary on Golfweek.com to give you an insider’s view of life during her transition from college to professional golf.
But four years have now passed since the day I made the choice to thrust myself out of my comfort zone and venture off to play U.S. college golf. Just 11 days ago I was walking (awkwardly… out of spikes and into heels) in my ill-fitting cap and gown onto a stage set in the middle of the gothic quad at Duke University to receive my diploma; 6 days ago I tapped in for birdie on my last ever hole of college golf; and as I write now, my car “Lexie” and I are 1,456 miles through a 1,600 mile journey from Durham to Colorado.
Everything I own is in this car; my golf clubs, size 11 shoes (I have a big toe ok?), my pillow, my guitar “Chester” (I believe everything I love deserves a name) and my warped sense of humor.
My schedule for the summer as it stands includes: unpacking (should have been my minor), playing in Women’s Open/U.S. Amateur qualifiers, the Colorado Open next week and the Tennessee Open (Amanda Blumenherst taught me the song that helps one remember how to spell that state). What I’m hoping to do through this column is give you all a little insight into how weird little golfers like me, who come straight out of college, use up the hours that homework and delightful banter with coaches used to fill.
Some un-golf-like activities that are tentatively planned include: Paintball, writing more music with Chester, exploring the Denver food scene, hiking up something more strenuous than my 24-step staircase (I’m hopeful such climbs will be bear-free…), visiting friends and family back home, cooking for 20 people when I’m only serving four (I struggle with portion sizes), and maybe I will even fit in a little fly fishing.
Most of these activities I either didn’t have time to do, or was scared to do during the school year. Knowing my luck I would have taken the team to paintball for team bonding, and returned witha black eye and a broken kneecap. Henceforth waiting until after college to subject myself to serious bruising and ninja-like tumbling seemed like the wise thing to do.
Having said that, there will be times when I need your (the readers) help. For example: when deciding what to name new possessions, when choosing whether to wear protective fishing goggles or a bucket on my head to paintball, or when pondering where to go for dinner in various destinations. I understand that these may sound like ridiculous requests, but my biggest hope is that this blog will turn itself into a two-way street. If you make a great birdie, a great putt, a great sandwich, write in and comment about it.
Ok. So I think by now you have at least a little bit of an idea as to what I’m about. Now for the hard part; time to change my preset car radio channels to Denver stations, shut my eyes, and jump in the name of love and life.
Wish me luck.