The first event of the year in 2020 was when I felt all-consumed by the game of golf. With my conditional status, I had to Monday qualify to get into the field for the first time ever, and had a plan set up for the year. I made it through and knew that if I just made the cut that week, I would get reshuffled up and get into more fields. But on the drive to the course for the opening round, excitement turned into fear, and I had a panic attack. Every mile I got closer to the course; the more anxiety overcame my body. I couldn’t breathe and I could hardly see with all the tears streaming down my face. The feelings became so overwhelming that I began to look at the concrete barrier on the interstate and considered crashing my car into it, because I would rather have been in the hospital than have to tee off and compete. In that moment, anywhere else besides the golf course felt safe.
That was my rock bottom.
People don’t see that side of golf. They don’t see the anxiety, the mental anguish on both the women’s and men’s tours. The pressures that are set on us by ourselves and society. Waking up every day to get better at what we do, but also the failures that might come with it. Some days feel like a giant step forward, while others feel as though everything is completely lost. We are all just one shot away from believing we are the number one player in the world, or one shot from wanting to throw it all away.
Back to when I was 15, someone said something to me that I will never forget. I had a terrible first round at a tournament. I was sitting on the putting green debating on whether I should withdraw and go home. I had never withdrawn from anything up until this point. The thought of having to show up the next day and play another round was mortifying. A friend and her father came and sat with me to help me make my decision. Her father told me, “When you are going to war, and about to enter battle, you must fight. When you are on the battlefield and see the enemy running towards you, you must stand your ground. No matter how terrified you are, if you are fighting for what you believe in, you cannot run away.”
He was right. If I wanted to be the best golfer I can be, I needed to stand my ground. But what her father failed to mention and what I realize now is that I was not alone on that battlefield. There are many of us fighting together. Going through the same emotions, thoughts, and doubts. We have an army of people, united and fighting the same enemy. There is no shame in turning the other direction, but just know that we are all in this together.