Tristyn Nowlin should be starting her sophomore campaign on the Epson Tour this season. The 24-year-old finished her five-year stint at the University of Illinois in 2021 and turned pro that December. But while she was preparing to make her Epson Tour debut at the 2022 Florida’s Natural Charity Classic, Nowlin tore her labrum hitting a ball out of a bush, forcing her to delay the beginning of her professional career.
The injury was originally thought to only require physical therapy, but the former fighting Illini ultimately needed to have surgery. While intensely rehabbing with physical therapy, Nowlin kept herself involved with the game by coaching her middle school golf team.
“Obviously, that could be good and bad sometimes,” said Nowlin. “You get to missing it a little too much, but I tried to keep my mental state the same.”
Five months after surgery, on Christmas day, Nowlin was cleared to swing. The great news meant the Kentucky native would be able to start her professional career – finally!
“I think just right now the only feeling I have is gratitude. Nothing is guaranteed and leading into my rookie season last year, I felt really confident,” Nowlin said. “Anything can happen at any moment, and you can take that and look forward to the highs and lows.”
Although Nowlin was cleared to play in the 2023 Florida’s Natural Charity Classic, she never got to tee it up. After being diagnosed with Covid-19, she was forced to withdraw from the event and prolong her debut even more.
“I felt like I had a little string of bad luck there,” said Nowlin. “But that’s just the flow of golf. It comes with highs and lows and that’s what I’m looking forward to embracing this week – whatever the course gives me, whatever the conditions give me and just enjoying it. It’s a game and it’s supposed to be fun.”
The Carlisle Arizona Women’s Golf Classic brought Nowlin some well-deserved luck. She finally made her long-awaited Epson Tour debut, and while she didn’t perform as well as she would have liked, a birdie on the last hole to sign for a second-round 68 propelled her to the weekend. And now, Nowlin will tee it up this week at the IOA Championship presented by Morongo Casino Resort and Spa with high spirits and good momentum derived from making her first cut of the season propelling her onward.
“It kind of felt like I got my mojo back. I’m seeing glimpses here and there of the player I used to be and I know that I’m the same person,” said Nowlin. “I’m taking it one day, one step, one shot at a time and just enjoying it.”