In its 73-year history, only a few players from Argentina have ever competed on the LPGA Tour. The most notable of those few is Silvia Bertolaccini, who was born in Rafaela in 1950, the same year the organization was founded, and turned professional in 1975, joining the LPGA that same year. Over the course of a career that spanned fifteen years, Bertolaccini captured four victories, beating players like Kathy Whitworth, Donna Caponi and Pat Bradley, and finished in the top 10 a handful of times in major championships.
It was a solid career by any definition and one that helped Bertolaccini to a second career as a broadcaster. However, there wasn't a golf boom in Argentina that saw hundreds of women clamor to get their hands on some clubs and aspire to play professionally, which resulted from her success. Or not one that we know of anyway. In fact, Bertolaccini has long remained Argentina's most successful LPGA Tour member. The LPGA boasts plenty of South American representation with players like Colombian Mariajo Uribe and Ecuadorian Daniela Darquea teeing it up week in and week out on Tour. There are even two Paraguayans, Sofia Garcia and Julieta Granada, who compete on the LPGA. But up until this season, there were no active players from Argentina on the LPGA Tour.
All that changed with Magdalena Simmermacher.
Simmermacher is from Buenos Aires and started playing golf around four years old, but it wasn't ever her main focus when it came to athletics. She played a litany of sports growing up, including polo and field hockey, even representing Argentina in an international field hockey competition when she was 14. It wasn't until she teed it up in a large, under-13 tournament for kids all over the country that the Argentina Golf Association took notice of Simmermacher, jumpstarting her journey to the professional golf ranks.
"I played a tournament that is called The Junior here in Argentina that is in the summer," she explained. "It's a tournament that is like 300 to 400 kids all under 13 and they come from all over Argentina. That's the tournament that the AAG, the Argentinian Golf Association, saw me and they asked me if I wanted to come practice with them. It was like a scholarship. That's when I basically started practicing more golf. In March when I turned 14, I went to the AAG and I would say like three to five months later, I had a handicap and that's how I started."
But while she was involved with the AAG, Simmermacher still had a pretty normal childhood, running around the country club her parents belonged to during the week and heading out to her family farm on the weekends, chasing chickens, milking cows and riding horses, something she still does to this day and something that helped her immensely when she was learning to play polo.
"My dad used to play (polo) and he was on the team here. I learned how to drive horses, I was I think one year old, and I was on a horse," Simmermacher remembered. "So, it was very natural for me. I did get to understand when I got older when I saw someone like a friend of mine ride a horse, it's not that easy. If you've been born (in Argentina), it's easier. But I ride plenty of horses. We have a lot of different ones."
Like most young internationals looking to pursue a professional golf career, Simmermacher went to the United States to play collegiately, landing at Old Dominion University after a bit of a bumpy recruiting process. It wound up being the best fit for her, and she had a stellar career, earning Conference USA Freshman of the Year honors in 2015 and being named Conference USA Player of the Year in her senior season. The now 27-year-old turned professional in 2019 and spent her early years as a pro competing primarily in Europe. She played some events on the LET Access Series, earning Ladies European Tour status for 2020 via 2019 LET Q-School. Simmermacher then earned her LPGA Tour card after finishing in a tie for 38th at 2022 LPGA Q-Series, becoming the long-awaited Argentinian successor to Bertolaccini.
Since joining the LET in 2020, Simmermacher has recorded 15 top-10 finishes, the best of which is a solo second that came at the 2022 Investec South African Women's Open when the Argentinian fell to Lee-Anne Pace in a grueling six-hole playoff. In addition to that runner-up result, she has finished inside the top five seven other times, including a solo fourth at this year's Investec South African Open.
But arguably, the highlight of Simmermacher's career was getting to represent Argentina at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, where she finished 58th. While competing alongside the world's best players was a treat for the young pro, it was even cooler getting to interact with some of her fellow Argentinian athletes that week and she even got to see a gold medal in person.
"When I turned pro, I proposed to myself I wanted to go (to the Olympics)," Simmermacher said. "I did propose it to Argentina, the national committee and they didn't think I could do it because I just turned pro and I had no points in the world rankings. But I did get my card for the LET so I explained to them that if I get all these points, I can make it and so that's how it went. I played some quite good golf that first year and I made the points.
"I stayed with the whole Argentinian team in the Olympic village. You would be wearing all your Argentinian clothes, and you would go around the village. There are millions of people and whenever you saw someone from Argentina, like we were best friends. We didn't actually know anyone, but they were so nice. They would be following you, people that were Olympic champions. There's nothing compared to it because you'll never be around all these people. I remember an athlete that would run I think like 300 meters, and he got on the bus with the Olympic medal, the gold, and he was sitting next to me."
As a 2023 LPGA Tour rookie, Simmermacher has struggled, only making two cuts in her 11 starts this season, finishing T48 at the LOTTE Championship presented by Hoakalei and T72 at the FREED GROUP Women's Scottish Open presented by Trust Golf. Even though it's been a tough year, and even though she'll likely have to go back to Q-Series or even LET Q-School to get playing opportunities for 2024, Simmermacher's chin is up. Not picking up the game seriously until she was a teenager, she's grateful for all that she has accomplished thus far and knows that while it might be taking her a little bit longer to succeed than everyone else, good things are coming, no matter the tour on which she lands next year.
For now, though, Simmermacher hopes to be a role model for young Argentinian kids who might want to take up golf and pursue the game professionally. Her experiences throughout the last four years were never something that she would've scripted for her career, and she implores young players to trust in the opportunities they are given and know that things might not always turn out the way they planned. And that's totally okay.
"I would say that there is no straight path," she said. "You never know what's going to be in front of you, or what the next opportunity will be. Don't think that you're going to get to the LPGA just straight away. I never thought I had to go for three years to the LET for then to come here. There are these things in life, it just doesn't go the way you plan. It just goes and you have to follow them. Follow your dreams and try your best."
She also really wants to do her country proud and inspire people to chase after their dreams, no matter how outlandish they might seem.
"Because in Argentina, (golf is) growing the last couple of years," said Simmermacher. "There are a lot of people that come to me and say, 'Because of you I'm starting to play golf again.' I think for maybe the last year, I would say I started to realize how much impact it might have because there's only been (a few) Argentinian players (like) Silvia Bertolaccini on the LPGA. She actually won four times, but it's been so long ago, and the media wasn't even up. I think not many people know it.
"With all the social media right now, I'm trying to (make) an impact for all these people and it's big. Before I didn't realize it, but as time goes by, I've started to see how little girls still write me and there's a lot of incentive and they want to follow your steps and I think it's great. I hope I can still give them the example and teach them or give them what they need, what they want, what they can get from me and can help them in their careers."