Canadian ready for breakout year in 2012
Being a teenager is not an easy thing for anyone, and those years are often fraught with tough decisions.
For Alena Sharp, she had a big decision to make as a 17-year-old, namely which sport to focus her full attention on. It was a decision that changed the course of her life.
The Canadian grew up playing soccer, hockey and golf, but when she entered her late teens, Sharp found herself at a crossroads. She knew she had the ability to continue to play sports at higher levels, but wasn’t sure which sport to pick.
Fate intervened and Sharp chose golf. Clearly, it was the right decision.
Ready to begin her seventh season on the LPGA Tour, Sharp has four top-10 finishes and $874,564 in career earnings. She is still looking for a breakout season, but knows that her decision all those years ago to focus on golf was the right one.
“I maybe could have gotten a hockey scholarship, but there was nothing after college in the hockey world,” said Sharp, who began playing golf at age 10. “I stopped playing hockey at age 17, because I didn’t want to get hurt. I knew there were a lot of opportunities for getting a golf scholarship, and after working hard for four years, I saw that turning professional was the way to go. I got a little better every year and just got more confident.”
Not only has golf afforded her the chance to earn a living while traveling the world, it has given Sharp a platform on which to help others. In 2006, she started the Alena Sharp Charity Classic, which benefited Alzheimer’s research and charities, in honor of her grandmother, who is afflicted with the disease.
Last year, she teamed with fellow Tour pro Beth Bader to conduct the Bader-Sharp Shootout, which benefited Alzheimer’s and pancreatic cancer charities. Bader’s mother suffers from pancreatic cancer, and she and Sharp have become good friends through the Tour.
“I think it’s really important,” Sharp said of her charity involvement. “I wanted to raise money for research and to give back. We just think it’s really important to give back as role models in our community and show that we care about where we live and the people around us.”
Sharp relishes being an LPGA pro for many reasons, one of which is the opportunities it gives her to help others.
“It definitely helps that we play on the LPGA and can do these type of events,” she said. “If we just worked in an office, I don’t think we’d raise as much money as we do.”
When she’s not working on her game or focused on her charity pursuits, Sharp can often be found in the gym, where she says she goes at least four times a week. She still plays some hockey and also enjoys mountain biking, hiking and rollerblading. It’s important for her to chase after her other interests away from the game just as diligently as she chases down golf balls on the course.
Sharp has worked hard on relaxing more on the course and not being so hard on herself. The result has been a more enjoyable time inside the ropes.“Obviously, it’s serious because it’s our job, but it’s important to not take it so seriously that you’re stressed out,” Sharp said. “I try to keep it light and have fun out there.”