MIDLAND, MICHIGAN | They’re still the kindest people you’ll ever meet, never short of a smile and a moment to call you by name. As with most charming and charismatic people, the trait that makes Alison Lee and Lindsey Weaver so attractive is their empathy. Everything is about you. And every second you spend with them is about them making you feel like the most important person in the room.
Looking at the two, who enter the weekend in a respectable tie for 13th at the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational, you’d never know the travails each has been through or how those troubles have hardened them like flame-forged steel.
Lee was the top-ranked amateur in the world when, after her freshman year at UCLA, she decided to give LPGA Tour Q School a whirl. She entered with no expectations. If things didn’t work out, there would be no harm. But when she earned medalist honors at Q School that fall, she felt as though she had to turn pro.
She’d been on a winning Curtis Cup team in 2014 and made the victorious U.S. Solheim Cup team in 2015 in Germany, a seemingly seamless transition. But as Stacy Lewis said on Thursday, “It's a really hard spot to be in because you come out here and you go from being one of the best players in amateur golf to you're maybe middle of the road out here (on Tour). So you kind of realize pretty quickly, ‘Oh, I've got to get better.’ Then it's like, ‘Well, how do I get better?’ You already think you're playing good golf. It's how do I get better.”
Lee had 6 top-10 finishes in her rookie year of 2015. Three years later she missed 12 cuts.
For Weaver, the road was a little different. After a star turn at the University of Arizona, she had a decent-not-great rookie year in 2018 followed by a second year where she missed 13 cuts and failed to break the top 30 in any event.
“We both had to go back to Q School a couple times, which is really frustrating,” Lee said. “But that's kind of how it just kind of made us stronger. Like our friendship is even stronger because we've had to go through things like that.”
Weaver concurred, saying, “That's actually kind of how we got so close. Like in 2019 we were both struggling, and so we spent a lot of weekends together (after missing cuts). And then we went to Q School together for two weeks and we were very close throughout that. We played our practice rounds together, went to movies together, and then it just kind of translated to more out here (on Tour).
“We kind of had each other to lean on and be supportive because we both knew what the other was going through.”
Every golfer knows the feeling. You’re lost. The game that seemed so natural for a while evaporates like a morning dew. But when average amateurs hit those valleys, they mow the lawn, read a book and forget about the game for a few days or weeks. When you earn your living hitting fairways and making 5-footers, that isn’t an option.
Did Weaver and Lee consider quitting?
“Yeah, of course,” Lee said. “We both have talked about it. When we would go back to Q School, have to play Epson Tour events. I had to play a couple Epson events in the beginning of the year, and sometimes you just kind of get really down on yourself and you get so negative and you kind of question yourself. ‘Is this for me? Do I belong out here?’”
Weaver nodded and added, “And just trying to make cuts. I think, for me, I did not want to continue playing golf after 2019. I've told this story before, but my mom said, ‘Oh, just give it one more shot, go to Q School and give it one more shot.’ I said, ‘I don't even want to go to Q School’ because I was just done. I was just so over it. I (went and) finished fourth and got my card back, so I was like, okay, I guess I'll give it one more try. And I had a pretty good year last year. My mother takes the credit for that one.”
“It's always nice to come back and play good golf,” Lee said. “It just kind of makes everything go away and you kind of forget about all the bad times. But I feel like that stuff kind of happens. You're never going to see someone in their career consistently just always going up. It just makes you learn a lot about yourself and kind of grounds you as a person.”
Weaver spoke up as someone who has shared the experience. “Yeah, there's just so many highs and lows out here,” she said. “It's never going to be steady. It's just mentally (challenging) trying to stay as level as you can and just knowing that if you miss a cut one week or two weeks or three weeks, it's not the end of the world. There's always next week. There's always another opportunity.”