I have just returned from a great trip to Scottsdale, Ariz. I was playing in the AJGA Thunderbird International Junior at Grayhawk Golf Club. This was my fourth time playing the event and it was even more special because it was my last junior golf event. Thunderbird has always been one of my favorite tournaments to play so it was great to go out on a high note. To start my week off in Arizona, I went to the Ping center in Phoenix to get fitted for some new equipment. I spent a lot of time testing new fairway woods and drivers, and then we worked on getting some new wedges.
My first round of the tournament didnʼt go exactly how I had planned. I made five birdies and shot 1 over. Then my group was assessed a one-shot penalty for slow play. I have never been a slow player and became very frustrated with the situation as it was unfolding on the course and after the round. Integrity is something I learned early on when I started playing golf. I have called more penalties on myself than I can count even when unseen by other competitors. The frustration I felt was because I was not playing slow and I had made every effort including running between holes to catch up. I felt like the only thing I could do was forget about that day and start a “new tournament.” Even though that’s easier said than done, I was able to move on and have a really good finish to the tournament. I shot 69-69 to finish the event, which totaled 4 under for all three days. I may not have won the tournament but there were many positives to take away. My putting improved dramatically from last week and I was proud of myself for fighting to the end. Congratulations to Nicole Morales for making a clutch putt on 18 for the win. It was fun battling with her the final 18 holes.
There are many things that makes the Thunderbird International a special event. One of those is the amount of volunteers. There were over 100 volunteers out there to shuttle us between holes, spot our shots off the tee, report our scores to live scoring and be a standard-bearer. I did not have my parents there last week so seeing a familiar face throughout the week was so nice. The AJGA also does a great job of making sure that the players have some fun off the course too. There was a glow-in-the-dark putting contest, the “dry heave” (a shot in the dark from 10 tee to 18 green) and we even had a few ping pong matches throughout the week. I have been playing on the AJGA for six years now and throughout that time I have made some life long friends that have had a huge impact on my life and I am so grateful to have been able to build those relationships through a game that I love.
I am headed to Chateu Elan this weekend for the Georgia Womenʼs Match Play. My sister, Taylor, is playing the tournaments as well and we are staying with a future Clemson teammate, Sloan Shanahan so we are both looking forward to it.
“If it doesnʼt challenge you, it wonʼt change you.” – Fred Devito