Rebecca Skoler finds maturity through experience on her journey to Virginia

Courtesy Rebecca Skoler

Rebecca Skoler finds maturity through experience on her journey to Virginia

Amateur

Rebecca Skoler finds maturity through experience on her journey to Virginia

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ORLANDO, Fla. – An educational shift happens from high school to college, when in-class hours are slashed and success becomes about balance. Rebecca Skoler should hardly blink at that next year when she enrolls at the University of Virginia.

Skoler, 17, got an early look at a nomadic golf life last spring when she completed an independent study program through her Boston-based high school, Beaver Country Day. You could say that Skoler’s experience gave her an early look at what it will be like to balance college and academics, or look one step further ahead.

“I would say it’s more like the tour,” Skoler said, “because I wasn’t in school – I was practicing all day.”

Beaver Country Day is set up on trimesters, which allowed Skoler to spend the middle part of her junior year – Thanksgiving to spring break – traveling primarily in the southern part of the country, getting in competitive reps. She began 2019 at the Harder Hall Invitational and Sally Amateur – two predominantly college-level fields – and was top 20 in each.

Leading up to her Sea Pines Junior Heritage title in early February, perhaps her biggest title to date, Skoler had had a week to prep on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.

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She still had to concentrate on school, even if on the road, but for Skoler that meant an individualized study in English, history and art.

“My teacher would send me assignments for essays, I read a book and I would just write essays and then for history I would do a ton of projects based on topics that were interesting to me,” Skoler said. She was most captivated by a self-guided study of affirmative action.

The larger question, however, was always about what was going on internally. Is this something she wanted to keep working toward for her future? She tried to check in with herself often.

“It was a good way for me to tell if I liked the social aspects and the travel,” she said. “I really did enjoy my experience, but then again it’s hard.”

Skoler enjoyed the time traveling with her dad, but without kids her age around, struggled with the lack of social interaction. There’s no question, however, that the travel and the tournament starts gave her an edge at a critical time in the college recruiting process.

Rebecca Skoler spent part of her junior year of high school traveling and getting tournament reps. Photo by Massachusetts Golf Association

Skoler spent the spring semester of her freshman and sophomore years at the Gary Gilchrist Golf Academy in Howey-in-the-Hills, Florida (which has since been renamed as the International Junior Golf Academy). Still, she felt like she was behind in the recruiting process. That’s where Brandi Jackson comes in.

Jackson is a former LPGA player who also played collegiately at Furman and now works as a college recruiting consultant. Many players she works with lean on her as a mentor, too.

Most weeks, Jackson issues a challenge for her clients. During the NCAA Women’s Championship, she asked players to reflect on something they learned from watching the broadcast.

Skoler had just come off a rough week at the Scott Robertson Memorial.

“She said she noticed how hard it was to close a match,’” Jackson said. “That definitely was a lot of her learning how to play well and how to close. It’s OK – you’re going to struggle with that.”

Another growing-up moment had happened earlier in the spring, when Skoler qualifier for the U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball along with partner Sophie Simon. The two were disqualified for signing an incorrect scorecard.

Skoler and Simon mistakenly wrote down a five on the par-5 15th thinking it was a par 4. The problem was that the other side also wrote down a five. In the scoring tent, Skoler knew she and her partner’s score was off by a shot, but they couldn’t find the error. They felt rushed to sign the card so, assured by others in the tent their score was right, they signed.

When Skoler later found the error, she returned to disqualify her side. In a text to Jackson later that day, she summed up the things that she had learned through the experience. Among them, “When I know I’m right, I need to have a bigger voice and not succumb to pressure – even from adults.”

Looking back six months later, Skoler called it an important moment but also a proud one – not because of the scoring issue, but because she had the courage to return to the tent and disqualify herself.

“It’s funny because Virginia actually has something called the Honor Code which is very well known,” she said.

Golf-wise, Skoler knows she’ll face a yardage bump in college golf and knows she needs to add some distance. That translates to creating more lag in her swing, among other things. Skoler is committed to improving not just distance, but accuracy, too.

In her mind, Jackson can still see the cupcakes the Skoler family had iced in Virginia colors to announce Rebecca’s college decision. That was the middle of last summer.

Skoler just remembers the day she first set foot on university grounds.

“When I walked on campus, this is the place. I want to go here,” Skoler said. Most importantly, it’s a place where Skoler knows she can get better.

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