Playing professional golf and going to college. Yes, it’s as difficult as it sounds.
But, not impossible.
It was a challenge Phil Mickelson, Matt Kuchar and Michelle Wie successfully navigated at the start of their careers. Now beginning her second season on the LPGA Tour, Alison Lee is the latest to take on the task.
The 20-year-old begins her season at next week’s Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic, continuing the juggling routine she started as a rookie in 2015 by playing on the LPGA Tour while also taking classes at UCLA.
“It has been tough, I’m not going to lie. Classes started on January 4th and I’m already feeling the pressure and stress from classes and golf,” Lee told LPGA.com.
Last season Lee played in 23 events resulting in six top-10’s and earned a spot on the victorious U.S. Solheim Cup Team. But before finishing her season, Lee returned to campus to do what any ordinary female college student would do and joined a sorority. Then in October it was back to the Tour, where she closed out her year with a T-40 in Korea and T-44 at the CME Group Tour Championship, her worst finishes since missing the cut at the RICOH Women’s British Open in July.
She was ready for a break.
“After the CME, I had to return back to school and catch up with classes so it was nice to not have to think about golf for awhile and focus on just one thing. I probably took most of November and December off and probably add in an hour range ball session once a week if I had a little spare time.”
Over the course of her rookie season, Lee climbed in the Rolex Rankings from No.481 to No.23 at year’s end, all while pursuing a degree in Communication Studies she hopes to receive in 2017.
“School has been tough too because I’m trying to fit in four classes instead of the usual three and one of my professors does not care I’m missing a midterm because I’ll be in Florida, so I might have to drop that class.”
To throw another ball in the air, Lee changed equipment, switching to Parsons Extreme Golf or PXG. She began testing the new clubs before the Solheim Cup but waited to put them into play for the first time in October at the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia, where she finished T-15.
“It did not take me very long to get comfortable with the PXG clubs, so all I had to do was figure out yardage and distance,” said Lee.
After nearly two months away from the game, Lee returns to action next week in the Bahamas, where she missed the cut last year after an opening round 80. The state of her game Lee says is anyone’s guess.
“Performance at competitions and tournaments are what help me determine how my game is and since we haven’t had one in awhile, I honestly have no idea how I’m going to do in our first tournament of the year. It’s kind of scary and nerve racking,” said Lee. “There’s just a lot going on in my head right now and I’m proud to say I’ve only had one mental breakdown so far, so we’ll see how this goes. I’m ready for 2016 so let’s do this all over again.”
Let the juggling begin.