Not every daughter wants to take a 10-plus hour ride with her dad. If Rachel Heck had her way, she would have flown from her home in Memphis, Tenn., to Toledo.
“I was not too happy that we drove,” she said with a laugh on Tuesday. “But my dad was saying we've had too many bad experiences with losing clubs, and he was not about to do that this time at an LPGA event, so we packed up the car and drove.”
Thankfully, father and daughter survived the trek and are still speaking with each other. Heck earned a special exemption into this week’s field after winning the individual title at the NCAA National Championship in May for the Stanford Cardinal. She’s still in summer school, with a big Economics assignment due on Thursday. But today was all golf, as she saw Highland Meadows for the first time playing with fellow NCAA champion Emma Talley and Talley’s college teammate Stephanie Meadow. And she liked it.
“It's a beautiful course. It's got to be one of my favorites. It's so gorgeous,” said Heck, who marveled at the small Marathon gas station pumps that serve as tee markers. “I'm also blown away by how awesome the people are here. They are so welcoming, just some of the sweetest people, the most welcomed I've ever felt at tournament. I have a feeling this is going to be one of my favorite stops on the LPGA.”
Ahead of her sophomore year at Stanford, this is Heck’s third LPGA Tour appearance of the summer. She tied for 35th at the U.S. Women’s Open in June and missed the cut the following week at the LPGA MEDIHEAL Championship. Heck reveled in the changes to interact with idols like Michelle Wie West and Lydia Ko, picking their brains about life on Tour. She also learned so much about her game and how she can improve as she looks to a potential future as a professional golfer.
“One big thing I learned in LPGA events is just to stay super patient. I got off to a rough start at the U.S. Open and I kind of thought, Oh, I'm just going to miss the cut, whatever, no big deal. Then I had a good string of holes and I'm right back in it,” she said. “You think 36 holes, that's not a whole lot of time for something to happen, but just stay patient. Never know what can happen.”