LPGA*USGA Girls Golf member Claire Hollingsworth thought that she was logging on for an interview about her Girls Golf experience. What she didn’t know was that there was a special surprise in store: a virtual meet-and-greet with her favorite LPGA Tour player, Lydia Ko.
Hollingsworth, a member of LPGA*USGA Girls Golf of Memphis, was one of 18 winners of the 2020 “Diamond Resorts Drives On for the Future” essay contest. Applicants were asked to answer the question “What Drives You?” The topic tied in the LPGA’s Drive On campaign and gave girls an opportunity to reflect on their personal experiences, triumphs and tribulations for a chance to experience the LPGA Tour’s season-opening event.
In her essay, Hollingsworth wrote about how her size is what drives her in golf and in life. Her “Drive On journey,” which began on the steps of an orphanage in Hunan, China, has led her to a powerful mantra: “I might be small, but I am mighty!”
“Claire absolutely loves Lydia Ko,” said Gretchen Hollingsworth, Claire’s mother. “We were watching a tournament where Lydia called a penalty on herself, and that’s when Claire fell in love with her, because she is super honest and that’s how she wants to be. Claire is Asian – she was adopted – and she is small, so they have things in common and she sees herself in Lydia.”
LPGA Tour players are more than just incredible golfers; they are role models and inspirations for the next generation. Ko recently penned a first-person piece, “Letter to my 15-year-old Self,” which was released as the LPGA’s newest #DriveOn story that featured the two-time major champion. At 14 years old, Hollingsworth has a lot to learn from – and relate to – with Ko’s own journey.
“I saw the Drive On piece that you wrote, 4’9, and you said you’re still small and mighty – I love it,” Ko said on the Zoom call. “I think sometimes, even myself, we try and define ourselves of how tall we are or how big we are or how old we are, but those things really don’t matter. Just you being you, just being the best version of yourself, is really all you can do. By the sounds of things, I think you’re very cool just the way you are and hoping to see you and where you go from now.”
To end the surprise of a lifetime, Ko said, “Thank you for having me, thank you again Claire. I’m very honored that you think of me as your number one player. I will keep working hard to maintain that spot!”
Claire Hollingsworth’s full #DriveOn essay:
Just two days after being born, I was left in a small wooden box on the steps of an orphanage in Hunan, China. There, I was given the name Yi Ru Song. Just nine months later, I was adopted by a golf loving family from halfway around the world, Memphis, Tennessee. I was given a new name, Claire Song Hollingsworth, and a new opportunity... both on and off the golf course.
Being adopted is not the only thing that makes me unique; I am also small in stature. My parents say I am the perfect size. However, we all know I was the smallest at the orphanage, the smallest in my grade every year, and always the smallest on the golf course!
My size is what drives me in golf and in life. I am constantly compared to kids half my age and receive hurtful comments regarding my size. I like to respond, "I might be small, but I am mighty!" I was also prescribed medicine to help me grow. I had to give myself a shot every day for two years. Talk about being mighty!
I started playing golf two years ago and have improved greatly. My coach and family push me to do the very best I can in both golf and school. I use the comments of others as motivation to push myself to get better. Because of my size, I do not drive the ball very far. This has forced me to work harder, get stronger, and improve on the other parts of my game so that I can compete with the bigger girls. I also use this motivation in the classroom as I was recently inducted into the National Junior Honor Society. Watch out world, I am just teeing off!