Mariah Stackhouse looks at the history that adorns the walls at Atlanta Athletic Club and calls it “a huge time warp,” in the most positive sense. Stackhouse, 27, would know. Before heading off to Stanford, she was a two-time class president at nearby North Clayton High School in Riverdale, Ga., and now lives a 25-minute drive away. Atlanta Athletic Club is where she practiced a lot as a youth.
“I used to spend six or seven hours a day grinding. I would see Chan (Reeves, AAC’s PGA Director of Instruction) on the weekends,” she said this week at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. “We’d practice out here every Saturday, that putting green, that range, the chipping facility in the back …
“As far as really getting my swing tight and elevating my game as a junior, the hours on the weekends that I put out here were a huge part of that. The members would come around and say, man, you two work really hard. I got to know quite a few of the people out here. It was just me and my dad, hours and hours and hours. So I definitely have a lot of history here.”
Stackhouse had the opportunity to hit the very first tee shot on Thursday, which was a nice honor, and was surprised she had so much support already in place by 7:10 a.m. On Saturday she had some of her best play going – six birdies in her first 12 holes – until a triple-bogey at the par-3 fourth hole, her 13th of the day, halted her momentum. She shot 74, and is at 2-over 218 after three rounds, tied for 42nd.
Stackhouse is the LPGA’s only full-time Black member, and one thing that warmed her heart was seeing all the youths that have followed her around the course this week. She once was that little girl, awestruck by seeing the best players in the game visiting her hometown. At the age of 9 or 10, Stackhouse served as a standard bearer at the old Chick-fil-A Charity Championship played south of the city, an LPGA event that last was played in Atlanta in 2006.
One of the top players in her group when she worked the Chick-fil-A was Jennifer Rosales, a pretty good player in that era. (“That was cool,” she said.) The biggest memory she has from that experience carrying that big standard around the golf course? Stackhouse laughs. “The biggest impression that I had,” she says, “is dang, these things are heavy.”