In my last blog, I shared some insight from Howard Bertram, who’s daughter Sarah just graduated from playing 4 years of college golf at Gardner-Webb University. I asked Sarah to share her own thoughts about her college golf experience and how she feels looking back now.
What did you learn the most from playing college golf?
Through golf, I learned to look beyond just the game itself. From my experience, I remember the van rides, silly trick shot sessions, and spending time with my teammates in countless hotel rooms more than actually playing golf. Though golf is important (it got me to where I am today), the lifelong friendships and memories I have made along the way are what I value the most. Looking back, the things that seem little at the time are actually the big things.
How was your school, coach, and team a good fit for you?
First and foremost, Gardner-Webb is a Christian school which is one quality that particularly influenced my choice. The small size gave Gardner-Webb a larger sense of community; I formed so many valuable friendships and relationships with both students and professors that I may not have been able to at a larger school. My coach was very laid back, but also expected the most from us. Though I was looking to be pushed as an athlete, I found that making my own schedule was a better fit for me. I enjoyed having that independence and it taught me how to prioritize.
Where there some things that weren’t a good fit?
I can’t say there was anything that was consistently a bad fit. My coach was a great role model, I got along with my team very well, and I enjoyed my classes and professors. However, there were times when inconveniences arose such as occasional team drama, bad internet connection (my entire sophomore year), and scheduling conflicts. But these were only minor bumps in the road that turned into learning experiences. If there were any “bad fits”, I would not have chosen Gardner-Webb.
What would you do differently as a junior golfer (more specific to golf game) if you could go back?
I would have created a stricter schedule for myself. My favorite thing to say as a young junior golfer was “I’ve got time”. I soon learned that statement is completely untrue; before I knew it I was out of time and behind the curve. Though I was dedicated and practiced more than many of my other athlete friends, I believe there was more that could be done. One more workout, one more range session, one more putting drill. Every minute spent practicing makes a difference (whether you realize it or not), and I wish I had realized that sooner.
What would you have done differently with college recruiting if you could go back?
Even though I chose the right school for me, during college recruiting I may have benefitted from visiting more schools and golf programs, even if the coaches were not directly recruiting me. I would have also enjoyed hearing more perspectives from current college athletes, or girls who had just graduated. At the time, however, I was unaware of a way or outlet to get in contact with these girls.
How do you feel college golf prepares you for the next phase of your life?
Golf as a whole has taught me a host of values such as perseverance, respect, integrity, confidence, and humor. But college golf, in particular, helped me grow my communication skills, which is vital now that I am out of college and searching for a career. During recruiting, I had to communicate extensively with coaches, which taught me how to be formal and respectful. As a college athlete, I communicated with other athletes from different cultures, coaches from other schools, and I had to represent Gardner-Webb both on and off campus. Because of this, I am more comfortable speaking with people I don’t know and putting myself into unfamiliar situations.
Any advice for an incoming college freshman?
It is so important to allow yourself time to adapt. The transition from living at home to living on campus is a tough one, so take each day as it comes. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and try new things. Be social, make friends with your teammates, and find a balance between work and play time. Having a planner and making a daily schedule helped me stay on task, but also realize how much time I had to have fun as well. College is an awesome time, and just like everyone else has probably told you, it flies by. Take advantage of every moment.
Any advice for current junior golfers?
Be confident in yourself! I understand that this is easier said than done, but as a young girl, confidence in every sense of the word is so important. Believing in yourself and your talent and having the will to push yourself, even during the tough times, will only make you stronger in the long run. Be proud of your accomplishments (even the little ones), but allow the failures to be learning experiences.