Monday, February 25, 2013

Leaving Your Dream Behind

I often have interest in my former career as a professional golfer. Now that it's been about eight years since I walked away from tour life, I have had time to reflect on my decision to walk away and what that has meant for my life.

When I turned professional after a successful college career at Southern Methodist University, I had planned and dreamed of spending my days traveling on the LPGA Tour. I had a nice first year as a professional on a developmental tour called the Futures Tour, it's the "minor league" of the LPGA, if you will. 

After that year, I earned a membership onto the LPGA Tour. By the end of my first year playing in the "big league", I knew without a doubt that I belonged out there and that I was able to compete. I was sure that I would have a great living on the LPGA Tour. 

A pretty serious wrist injury at the end of my first LPGA year led to a train wreck of a year competition wise the following year. I was trying to rehab my wrist while competing and I'd really lost my confidence. During that time, I was also engaged to my husband, so personally it was also a wonderful time. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times!

That year opened my eyes to some things that I had been blind to before, let's just say the honeymoon was over. I started really examining the lives that even the successful women led on the tour and it wasn't all that glamorous. The older players were battling injuries and I so understand that now! I can't imagine how physically demanding that life would be at my ripe age of 36 now! I digress, I looked at the realities of having a family on tour and the difficulties that would bring. Since I was engaged, I understood how hard it was to be away from Matt for weeks on end. I'm not saying that the life didn't work for some, but I wasn't sure that it was the life for me. I began longing for a "normal" life, going to church on Sunday and being in the company of my future husband and hopefully children. 

Even though God had started revealing all of these things to me, alas, I wasn't ready to throw in the towel just yet. My poor playing led me back down to the Futures Tour. Ironically, that may have been my best performance year as a professional. My scoring average was the lowest it had ever been (low is good for golf) and I eventually held the title of "Statistical Player of the Year". It was really a fun year and a gift from God in many ways.

In a strange twist of faith, I did not gain my status back to compete on the LPGA Tour. This led me with a tough decision. Do I go back to the Futures Tour or call it quits? I spent the entire winter trying to decide. I prayed and prayed for an answer and I just really didn't get one. So, since I couldn't decide, then the decision was made to go back out on the Futures Tour. In hindsight, I needed that year to know that I was indeed finished. My heart wasn't in it and I was so ready to start a family. With three tournaments left, my Dad, who was also my caddie for my entire career, and I packed up the car and headed to Texas.

By the grace of God, I was pregnant with our oldest child, Haley, the next week! I'm so thankful for that blessing, because it was such confirmation that I had made the right decision. Not only that, but walking away from a dream is a tough thing to do. I had always envisioned myself playing on the LPGA Tour for many years and being hugely successful. The catch was that I still knew that I could have been successful, I had the talent and the work ethic. So, walking away from a realistic dream was even that much harder. 

I began working right away at a well known teaching facility. Although, I do have a degree in public relations, I had never had a "real" job before and the reality of the money was tough. I used to get paid ridiculously well to play in one day pro-ams and I had completely taken the amount of money that I was getting paid for granted.

I was constantly defending my decision to come home from tour life for the next two or three years. People often wondered why I would leave and if I would ever go back. But, I knew without a doubt that I was exactly where God wanted me to be and I had proof in a blond haired, blue-eyed baby girl named Haley Ruth.

I'm not sure why I felt led to write of this today. Perhaps someone out there is also thinking of leaving a dream behind. Or maybe it will just be nice to have this written down for my kids someday when they also wonder why I would leave a promising career behind. Regardless, I have never been more certain that I am exactly where God wants me and strangely I'm not signing autographs or getting paid to wear a certain golf hat. I am, however, spending a large amount of my time doing mundane tasks like laundry, dishes and so one. And the even stranger thing about it is that I've never felt quite so happy in my skin or fulfilled. I want to be clear that I would never trade my experience as a professional golfer. Because of golf, I had a full scholarship to a wonderful school and I've been to all but three states. Golf, rather God, has been so good to me. But, when it was all said and done God had a different plan for my life and for that I am thankful.

Thanks for stopping by and God Bless!


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