Nestled directly North of one of the largest national parks in North Yorkshire is a town called Middleham. More than 2,000 acres of green pastures and hills cover the entire town with its main attraction being the Middleham Castle, which was home to members of several royal families dating back to 1190.
It’s a town with probably more horses than citizens, as the town’s main industry is horse racing.
And it’s the hometown of third-year LPGA Tour member, Jodi Ewart Shadoff.
With parents whose lives revolved around horses, whether it be training them for races or jockeying, it’s surprising Ewart Shadoff didn’t share that same passion.
“I remember an incident when I was on a smaller horse, like a pony, and it almost nearly bucked me off,” said Ewart Shadoff. “I don’t think I really went near a horse after that.”
Instead, she decided to take up the country’s most popular sport, soccer. But after a few years, Ewart Shadoff’s grandfather stepped in and took his young granddaughter to her first golf lesson at Catterick Golf Club. He also introduced her to the coach she has had for more than 15 years, Andrew Marshall.
“My granddad thought I was hanging around the boys too much by playing soccer,” recalled Ewart Shadoff, whose grandfather passed away when she was 16. “So he was like, ‘I’m going to take you to get golf lessons.’ But I was still like the only girl playing golf so the idea didn’t really work out.”
Golf seemed to be a natural fit for Ewart Shadoff and she instantly fell in love with the sport. But it was tough to get optimal practice time through the wind and rain that seemed to plague the area year-round. She says even with the faltering weather, it was the thrill of knowing she was growing with each shot that kept her coming back to the game.
“Looking back on it, I really don’t know how I kept interest in golf,” said Ewart Shadoff. “The weather in England was so bad, and I didn’t have the facilities to practice inside. I think, like everyone says, the rush of hitting great shots and getting better keeps bringing you back to the sport. I think that’s why I stuck with it.”
Ewart Shadoff made a name for herself among the junior and amateur ranks in England, winning back-to-back English Amateur Championships in 2008 and 2009 and playing a crucial role on the Great Britain and Ireland Curtis Cup teams in 2008.
As college started coming into view, Ewart Shadoff sent off her impressive résumé and a video of her swing to the top-20 golf universities in the United States. But one trip to the University of New Mexico was all she needed to commit to the Lady Lobos squad, and the small-town, country girl packed her bags for Albuquerque.
“Everything is just so convenient there,” said Ewart Shadoff of the University of New Mexico. “There’s a great golf course and the facilities are like 10 minutes away from campus, the airport was 10 minutes away. Everything was just perfect. It was small enough that I didn’t feel shocked when moving from out in the country to the middle of a city.”
During her time in New Mexico, she recorded five wins and was a two-time NCAA All-American. With the success she saw in college it seemed right to turn professional after graduation and she contended on the Symetra Tour for next two years, recording nine top-10 finishes.
Now an LPGA Tour pro, Ewart Shadoff has tallied three top-10 finishes and made a name for herself this season after co-leading the first-round of the Kraft Nabisco Championship, where she ultimately ended in a tie for seventh. She proudly says each level of her career has helped shape her into the golfer she is today.
“I think each stage of my career were stepping stones,” she said. “To go from amateur to college, the different and quality of the competition just pushes you to become better. It was the same when I went from college to the Symetra Tour. Being a professional, you had to travel on your own and fend for yourself and it takes a while to learn how to cope.”
Although Ewart Shadoff is a seemingly bashful and reserved player on the course, fellow LPGA Tour player and host family roommate Jessica Korda says Ewart Shadoff isn’t the shy person people think she is.
“For people that don’t know her, she actually is really funny and sarcastic and I think that’s why we get along so well,” said Korda. “Like when we’re in the car driving, she’ll start randomly quoting lines from the movie Pitch Perfect and before you know it we’ve quoted like the whole movie and we’re dying laughing. She always has something funny to say and the more you get to know her, the more you’ll find that she’s a very loving person who just wants to have fun.”
As the Tour stops in numerous big cities cities, Ewart Shadoff claims she is no longer wide-eyed and timid but always finds comfort when returning to her home in the small beach town of Sarasota, Fla.