Georgia sophomore Jillian Hollis joins the Golfweek.com staff as a player blogger for the 2016-17 college season. She posted her first two player diaries earlier this spring. You can read her initial post, on what it means to be a college golfer, here. And you can read her follow-up post, on the concept of time in golf, here. Below is her third player diary, where she focuses on the importance of family and not taking for granted time spent with the people who love you most.
• • •
Happy summer! One of our final events this season was a win at our home tournament, the Liz Murphey Collegiate. It is an 18-hole stroke play event, followed by three rounds of match play. I shot 67 to win my second collegiate individual title and helped my team to win the stroke play and No. 1 seed of our tournament.
We beat Arkansas in the semifinal match and played Alabama in the final. With victories from Harang Lee (graduated senior), Mary-Ellen Schuman (graduated senior), Bailey Tardy (rising sophomore) and a halved point from Rinko Mitsunaga (rising sophomore), we secured a team victory!
Playing a match-play tournament on our home course is great practice for the NCAA Championship (which annually uses a similar stroke play and match play mix) and very fun because our friends and family can all come watch us play. My dad and my uncle were able to fly down from Ohio to watch me play the entire week, which is very special because they do not get to see me play golf very much. My mom and my 82-year-old grandma came to Birmingham, Ala., to watch us finish second at the SEC Championship at Greystone Country Club. My grandma thanked me about twenty times for getting to watch me play, but I am much more thankful she was able to make the long trip that brought her so much joy.
We finished our season a bit earlier than expected with the NCAA Athens Regional at our home course. Six teams in each of the four regional tournaments around the country make it through to the NCAA Championship, and unfortunately our team missed sixth place by only three shots at our regional. My mom flew down to Athens and watched me play my first round. I was a bit sad my dad could not make it, but I put it out of my head and shot 2 under that day. I was warming up on the driving range the next morning with Bailey, and after I hit a drive I heard a voice behind me say, “Very nice shot.” I picked up my tee, turned around and, to my surprise, I saw my dad standing right behind me. I have not cried tears of joy like that in a long time (video on my Instagram @jillianhollis). Both my parents watched me finish up my sophomore season at the University of Georgia with a 12th-place finish. Having the support of the people in my life that I love means the entire world to me.
I grew up playing golf with my family, because my mom played college golf for North Carolina State and finished up at Ohio State when the Wolfpack dropped their women’s program (the team was reinstated in 2000). She went on to play professional golf until she took the busiest job of taking care of three children and teaching me how to play golf.
Between my mom, dad, 18-year-old brother, 15-year-old sister, grandma, aunts and uncles, my family was able to watch me play golf at all of my college tournaments this year.
On average, I probably call my mom three times a day, whether it’s because I’m trying to remember how to hit that shot she taught me last summer, I’m angry because my professor won’t round my 89.99 percent up to an A or I’m crying because I saw her favorite food in the grocery store and it made me miss her.
Don’t get me wrong, college is amazing. But, to all the junior golfers traveling around the country aspiring to play college golf: enjoy this time traveling with your mom and dad. It’s the best time of your life traveling with your college team, but you will miss your family, no matter where you go to school.
So do not wish the time away, because it goes by so fast and before you know it you’re already a junior in college. You’re doing adult things like doing your own laundry, trying not to spend all of your money on food and making friendships that last a lifetime.
I am writing this blog somewhere in the Appalachian Mountains, on my 13-hour drive home to Ohio with my mom. I am very excited to go home for the summer to spend time with my family and work on my game for my upcoming tournaments.
As I mentioned in my last blog post, my teammates are everything to me. I would not be where I am without their constant love and support these past two years. Although our season was cut a bit short, we ended it with a win at our home tournament, a second-place finish at SECs and a heck of a run these past two years.
The time I’ve spent with my team on and off the golf course is truly invaluable and I wouldn’t have done it any different with these amazing people.