Pancake adjusts to LPGA life after successful college career
Like most rookies on the LPGA Tour, Brooke Pancake’s start to her professional golf career began a bit inexpertly.
“I remember my first tournament in Australia, I flew over there and I get there and I’m trying to get ahold of my caddy but my phone wasn’t working,” said Pancake with a laugh. “I had to get my Facebook back so I could communicate with people when I was overseas.
“But I remember getting there and just seeing all the veterans and they have it all down like where to drop their bags off and where to go for registration. So I just started following people hoping I was doing the right thing.”
It was a rather different experience than what Pancake was used to on the golf course. A collegiate golfer from the University of Alabama, she had always traveled with her team, coach and a family member, however this year she had to learn to adjust to her new role as an LPGA Tour pro on her own.
“I always thought I was really well-adjusted and that I had traveled a lot but this year was pretty eye-opening, especially since I traveled by myself this year,” said Pancake. “I didn’t really burn myself out, but it just took a while to learn how to adjust with how you practice and how you play and how to travel.”
Pancake entered her rookie season after a successful collegiate and amateur career. As the only senior on the Crimson Tide women’s golf team in 2012, Pancake led her team to win its first NCAA National Championship in program history. It took a clutch putt from Pancake on the final hole to complete Alabama’s dramatic one-stroke victory over the University of Southern California. Pancake describes it as the highlight of her career.
“It was definitely the icing on the cake for me,” said Pancake. “I look back and I just know that that time in my life, golf was just such a highlight.”
But the success didn’t end there. Pancake’s performance propelled her to earning 2012 SEC Female Athlete of the Year honors and the Honda Sports Award, given to the nation’s top female collegiate golfer. She was also selected to represent the U.S. on the 2012 Curtis Cup.
It goes without saying, Pancake knew exactly what she wanted to do with her life.
“Sometimes it’s hard to have all areas of your life going really well, but it was at that point when everything just came together for me,” said Pancake. “It was then I knew that professional golf was going to be my life. It was something I did not want to give up on and I wanted to see it all the way through. At each level I had accomplished more and more, so I wanted to see how far I can take it and see how great I can become.”
The Chattanooga, Tenn. native says her biggest takeaway from her collegiate career was “a lot of confidence and being self-assured in the person I was and what I wanted to do. That’s a huge thing to have out here.”
Now as a rookie on the LPGA Tour, Pancake admits juggling the overwhelming tournament schedule while fitting in appropriate practice time to fully prepare for each event was the toughest thing to grasp this year.
“I had a hard time feeling like I was 100% prepared for one tournament when I was still kind of working on things from the week before,” said Pancake. “That’s one thing I’ve sat down and talked with my coach now that my season is almost over and now that I have time to evaluate this year. A lot of my training [during the off-season] will be really learning to mold my practices and my off-weeks when I go on long stretches or when I go for like two weeks in a row, how I’m going to prepare for that.”
In 16 tournaments this season, Pancake made five cuts and posted her career-best finish at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship Presented by P&G with a tie for 13th.
“Even though it wasn’t nearly what I wanted or expected out of myself for my first year on Tour, I definitely have learned a lot and I know that when the successes do come and play better it will be even sweeter,” said Pancake.