Perspective is an amazing antidote for all that ails you. One good dose and everything falls into place. You see better; you think more clearly; you walk with a different cadence and purpose, and if you’re a golfer, a lot of times you play better.
This past Monday, one day after the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, Emma Talley joined a group of LPGA Tour players in Atlanta for the Renee Powell Clearview Legacy Benefit, a charity event that raised funds for Powell’s mission at Clearview Golf Club in Ohio. As part of the event, members from Atlanta-area LPGA*USGA Girls Golf programs hung out and played a few holes with the pros. Talley’s player was a 16-year-old high school junior named Charity Cloud.
“She’s there with her sister and I asked her if she planned to go to college,” Talley said. “She said, ‘Yes, but I also want to continue to grow my business.’ I shook my head and said, ‘What?’ It turns out, this girl and her younger sister (Chasity) realized that there were some underprivileged kids in local hospitals who didn’t have pajamas to wear while they were in the hospital. So, they started collecting donated pajamas and taking them to hospitals. It grew so big that they’re now making their own pajamas. The company’s called DreamCloud Sleepwear and the girls have their pictures on pajamas.” Talley pulled out a plastic bag with some sleepwear inside. “They gave me a pair. Can you believe it? Sixteen years old. I’m blown away.”
Three days later and filled with perspective, Talley had the round of her season, a seven-birdie 65 at Old American Golf Club outside Dallas to sit two shots behind Jin Young Ko after round one of the Volunteers of America Classic.
“You know, I been working really, really hard on my game and then also from that I've also been working on my mental game,” Talley said. “I knew this day was coming and finally it's all paid off. So hopefully the next three days treat me just the same.”
Part perspective, part confidence and part familiarity, Talley said she has been working with a sports psychologist named Paul Dewland since November. She also went back to her old swing coach, Todd Trimble, in December.
“It's been a work in progress this whole year,” she said. “Between the two of them and the work we've put in, it's finally all paid off. Every week was getting a little bit better just being confident in the process and knowing what I been working on for six months now was eventually going to take off.
“So, yeah, I've learned a lot along the way that's for sure.”
Talley has been a pro for six years, two on the Epson Tour and four on the LPGA Tour. She was an extraordinary amateur who won the U.S. Women’s Amateur, the NCAA individual championship, was low amateur in the AIG Women’s Open and clinched the winning point for the United States team in the 2015 Curtis Cup. Everything seemed on track for a smooth transition onto the LPGA Tour. But golf, like life, does not advance on a linear progression. There are ups and downs, highs and lows, setbacks and comebacks, fears, tears, glimmers of hope and mountains of heartache. She won once on the Epson Tour at the 2017 Island Resort Championship and had four top-10s in her rookie year on the LPGA Tour. But things haven’t been great since. Talley had one T5 at the Marathon LPGA Classic in 2020, the second week back after the COVID-19 break. And so far in 2021, she has missed seven out of 10 cuts.
“Yeah, I think out here it's grueling,” Talley said. “Week in, week out, whether you play good or not, you're expected to play the next Thursday. I think just the grind of it all, I've realized that I needed to talk to someone. Also losing one of my good friends last year in the summer I just felt like it was time to talk to someone about life.
“So (Paul) has been a great asset to my game and my mental game. Actually, I felt so calm out there and that felt amazing. First time in a long time.”
Talley found Dewland through her putting coach Gareth Raflewski.
“Gareth put me in contact with Paul,” she said. “He works with a lot of players on the PGA TOUR and Korn Ferry and he actually works with a couple girls out here as well.”
One of the first things Dewland had Talley do was give the scorecard to her caddie. “He keeps the scorecard now so I had no idea what I was shooting, which is pretty cool,” she said.
The 65 was pretty cool as well. “The tap-in birdies helped,” Talley said. “I’m striking the ball how I want to. I think I hit all the fairways. So just hitting the ball really well.” And doing so with the proper perspective, which might, in the end, be the best medicine of all.