CARLSBAD, CA – Returning to California is always a rush for Mo Martin.
Those good vibes spurred her to an opening round bogey-free, 66 to take the early lead in Carlsbad. This week, she’s just a two-hour drive south of her hometown of Altadena. Local media swarm her at the opportunity to share the success of a local resident that made good. They pepper her with questions about her Bruins, what it’s like to be back in California and how it felt to have her grandfather watch her before he passed. Then, they ask her go through all six-holes where she made birdie. Shot by shot. She takes it all in stride and patiently answers each and every question.
Then, a peace settles over her as she shares with me how comfortable she feels being back home. Martin can’t help but smile as she describes how much she loves the visual distractions that come with playing Aviara Golf Club.
“Being in California is a rare occurrence for us, especially being on the coast feels like home for me,” Martin says smiling. “I’m comfortable with the hills and slopes and I think it’s a great set up in and of itself. It’s lush, it’s playing good. Wild flowers are out. I’m sure the California poppies are out too. I enjoy looking at the scenery between holes and shots.”
Martin grew up in the suburb just northeast of Los Angeles and went on to play college golf in her own backyard at UCLA. Her six-year stint on the Symetra Tour took her around the country and she attracted a following that has only continued to grow since she joined the LPGA Tour in 2012.
“I was playing with Jenny and Carlota and Jenny said to me, ‘Sometimes we come to places and people just love you!’ I think she was asking why,” Martin said laughing about her fans this week. “All the volunteers are like, ‘That’s Mo!’
Martin has become a fan favorite, an adopted daughter at tour stops around the world. Fans travel near and far, from Woburn Golf Club outside London to Aviara Golf Club in Carlsbad wearing ‘Go Mo!’ buttons and carrying signs bearing their mantra.
“It’s super nice to have the support. It softens the blow if I’m not playing well and it accelerates if I am,” Martin explains.
That supported has buoyed Martin throughout her five seasons on Tour and now into the hunt for her first win since the 2014 RICOH Women’s British Open.
But Martin isn’t the first from her family to come to California searching for something special. It’s a desire that runs deep in her family – six generations deep. Martin’s family emigrated from Europe to the United States and after a stint of practicing law, her ancestors chose to headed west looking for something better. They set their sights on California and joined the thousands of others who rushed west in the 1800s in search of gold.
“People were just starting to go gold digging and they say it’s super hard work, it’s dirty work. They realized if they could just sell the equipment to people who were doing it they could actually make more money. They ended up selling the equipment and provisions to people who were going into the mines and searching for gold.”
The venture proved to be safer and more lucrative than digging gold – a wise move that rooted Martin and her family in the Golden State for generations to come.
“When California turned 100, my great, great, great grandma she was the oldest native daughter, so she was in the parade.”
Sunday, California could have another Martin to celebrate. This time, with a trophy.