Throughout the final round of the Evian Championship, Amy Olson kept going back to two words: mental discipline.
Time and again she would refocus her mind away from the what could happen in the future – win or lose – and get back to the task at hand.
After Olson double bogeyed the final hole at Evian to finish one stroke shy of a playoff against Angela Stanford, the need for “mental discipline” continued as she replayed the 72nd hole on her way home from France.
“Just like when I was playing, I can’t do anything about the future,” Olson said. “Right now, I can’t do anything about the past.”
Olson’s husband, Grant, a linebackers coach for Indiana State, was at home in Terre Haute watching the final round unfold after a late game against Eastern Illinois.
“He was an athlete before he was a coach,” Amy said. “He knows that there’s nothing you can say in those situations.”
Actually, Grant said something along the lines of, “I love you more now than I did yesterday,” and that was all she needed to hear.
The newlyweds lean more toward work on the work-life balance scale these days, Olson said. It’s not easy being apart for weeks at a time, but both know it’s just a stage.
Olson, a certified accountant, has known from the start that she didn’t want to raise kids while competing on tour. The 26-year-old believes 10 years would make a “great career on the LPGA.” And because she has put somewhat of a deadline on her golf career, Olson takes a more intense approach.
“I’m taking advantage of every minute I can to get better,” she said.
With the help of coach Ron Stockton, Olson has taken her game to a new, more consistent level.
“I had a death move in my swing that required a ton of timing with my hands,” she said, referring to a dip in her spine angle.
When she had weeks to groove her swing between tournaments, the former U.S. Girls’ Junior champion could hang with the best. But as a professional, when she got off, it was hard to get back on with so many events.
When everything timed up, Olson hit a beautiful draw. When it didn’t, the dreaded two-way miss. As a rookie, Olson missed 10 cuts but had three top-15 finishes.
Now a more consistent Olson, who can also self-correct, finds herself 34th on the LPGA money list and 12th on the tour in greens in regulation.
At the ANA Inspiration, Olson played her way into the final group Sunday but wasn’t able to keep up with eventual winner Pernilla Lindberg going into the back nine. Too much focus on score and the final outcome.
By the year’s final major though, Olson had a new system in place and managed to keep herself in contention until the absolute last second.
When it was over, several of Olson’s friends were on hand to meet her off the 18th green and join her in the locker room. Sandra Gal changed her flight to stick around.
Having a sense of community on tour means everything to Olson, who chose North Dakota State over bigger schools and sunshine in favor of staying close to her support system.
Olson actually believes more players struggle on the LPGA due to loneliness than from a technical problem in their swing or putting stroke. She’s had many conversations with her peers about the subject.
“I think a lot of players are very private about that because you don’t want to show weakness out there,” she said, “and loneliness would be perceived as a weakness. There’s no question that it’s an underlying problem.”
The friendly Olson has a huge heart for those who feel alone. Considers it part of her mission on tour to help others feel connected.
“Obviously her faith is a really big part of her life,” said good friend Katherine Kirk, “and I think how she treats people is one of the most impressive things about her.”
People are Olson’s passion. And after a rough finish to a dream week at Evian, the support she shows others came back in spades.
“That’s what gets you through the tough times,” she said.
And in this job, only those are guaranteed. Gw