By Laura Fellwock, AJGA Communications
Throughout her career, Stacy Lewis has faced a myriad of challenges that would have kept any ordinary golfer off the course. But Lewis was never one to let someone else dictate her path.
Monday night at Blessings Golf Club, Lewis shared her experiences and advice with the juniors and parents at the inaugural KPMG Stacy Lewis Junior All-Star Invitational. Along with Arkansas women’s golf coach Shauna Estes-Taylor, Lewis focused on the importance of never giving up.
After a brief introduction video about Lewis’ history with scoliosis, she shared how she endured the uncertainty of her future in golf by zeroing in on her short game.
“I loved to learn to play games and learn new shots and figure out how to get out of the bunker when the lip’s over your head,” Lewis said. “I like trying stuff. And that, I think, just came from that time where I couldn’t play.”
That endurance helped her become a 12-time collegiate champion at the University of Arkansas, including winning the 2007 NCAA championship. With a strong passion for college golf, Lewis said a college experience is important for everyone.
“I just love college golf,” Lewis said. “I mean my favorite memories are not winning tournaments or any of that stuff. It’s when we’re goofing around in the van or joking the freshmen with shaving cream or doing something like that. Those are the memories that you have from college. And once you turn professional, you’re on your own.”
But more than just fun, for Lewis, college is about the education.
“Get an education,” Lewis said. “Get a backup plan. Always have a backup plan. Golf involves your body. A freak accident could happen not even related to golf, and you may not be able to play again. So what are you going to do after that?”
And when asked about advice she wishes she had known before going pro?
“I just wish somebody would have helped me manage my time better,” Lewis said. “I’ve had to kind of learn over the years. I wish somebody my rookie year would have kind of taken me and said, ‘Hey. Stop practicing so much. Get out there and rest a little bit.’”
This week, the event will feature a new format of mixed pairings with a boys vs. girls competition at the end of the championship. More than just an innovative idea, the format is a new challenge for these young golfers. And that’s just how Lewis wants it.
“I’m trying to change the mentality of golf,” Lewis said. “My goal is to get us playing on the golf courses that the guys are playing on. Playing for the same purses. That’s ultimately where I want to get to.”
To Lewis, playing with the boys is the step toward the future of golf.
“I just want to change the way people think about the men’s and women’s game. And I think you can learn a lot from each other.”