Her heart was telling her something. Shasta Averyhardt would toss and turn at night. There were many sleepless nights.
The Flint, Michigan native played on the Epson Tour from 2010-2014. Then, she simply ran out of money. The former Jackson State star was forced to put her accounting major to work and effectively put the clubs away. In December of 2014, she got a job in the tax department at Price Waterhouse Cooper. It’s a job she held until March of 2017 when she decided to give golf a chance again.
The turning point, or revelation, came in May of 2016. She attended the espnW Women’s Summit in Chicago with former LPGA professional Anya Alvarez.
“We were listening to Olympians and a lot of successful female athletes tell their stories and I just realized that I want someone to ask me about my story, I don’t want to be the interviewer, I want to be the interviewee,” said Averyhardt. “When we got back, I told Anya that I’m going to go play, I have to go do it. Otherwise, I’m going to have these regrets for the rest of my life.”
About a year later, Averyhardt put in her two weeks notice at PWC and is now getting ready to compete in Stage II of LPGA Qualifying Tournament in Venice, Florida, which starts on Thursday.
“I felt out of place because I thought my place was not supposed to be in the audience, but on the stage,” said Averyhardt, who finished T48 at Stage I to advance. “I had this urge to go play again and I had to do it. I couldn’t commit to going to do my CPA exam and there was a reason why. I wanted to play again.”
Averyhardt, who plays out of Reunion and spends most of the year in Tampa, started training for her return to golf immediately in March and knew it was going to take time. She found a new golf coach in Mitchell Spearman, who has worked with the likes of Nick Faldo, Greg Norman and Curtis Strange. Averyhardt also zeroed in on the psychological aspects of the game.
“I’m trying to do things a little bit differently to see better results,” said Averyhardt, who had one top 10 on the Epson Tour. “I’ve played in some mini tour events and some open’s just to stay competitive as much as I can. This year, it was all about getting through Q-School and getting my card.”
Even though Averyhardt held a full-time job at the second largest professional services firm in the world, she wasn’t getting rich. She’s a prideful person and said it was hard to go public with her GoFundMe Page, but she had to. Her goal was $6,200 and she itemized her needs (i.e. hotels - $595, entry fee - $3,000, caddy fee - $2,000, etc.). She started the campaign in July and as of mid-October, had exceeded her goal as 96 people helped to raise $6,700.
“We live in America where there is plenty of money and there is no reason I should not be able to pursue my dream,” said Averyhardt. “It was hard to do the GoFundMe page, I kind of wanted to do it all myself.”
Her circle of supporters, which includes LPGA friends like Sandra Gal, Brittany Lincicome and Cheyenne Woods, helped by spreading the word on their social accounts.
“It’s amazing how supportive strangers are, people I have never spoken to, never met, never even seen me play golf have contributed their hard-earned money to my efforts. It says a lot about people. I absolutely wouldn’t be able to do this if it wasn’t for the (financial) support I received.”
At 31, Averyhardt isn’t going in with a firm timetable. She wants to one-day start a family, but for now, she has recommitted to the sport she fell in love with at age 7 and hopes to advance to Final Stage.
“I feel it in my heart, I’m ready to get back on Tour.”