Charlotte Thomas is a 2019 rookie professional golfer on the LPGA Tour from England. She has had 10 top-20 finishes in 2018 on the Symetra Tour, including six top-10 results and posted a career-best result of second place at the 2018 Sioux Falls GreatLIFE Challenge. She enjoys exploring new places, going to local restaurants, reading, hiking, water sports and meeting new people. Something you may not know about her, she was born in England but moved to Singapore when she was 13 years old and went to school there. She has lived in four countries on four different continents throughout her life.
I was lucky enough to play four years of golf as a student-athlete at the University of Washington. I was on the women’s golf team from 2012-2016. I played my sport in many different different states, in a plethora of tournaments, and was able to do it all with my best mates at my side. I think that’s what people don’t realize, or appreciate, about college golf. An incredibly individual sport, one where you battle against yourself and the golf course every day, suddenly transforms into a sport that revolves around encouragement, picking your teammates up when they’re down and working completely as a team when you go to college. It’s unique in our sport, something you won’t ever get to experience unless you play college golf. You may play in a Curtis Cup or Solheim Cup one day, or other team events in your career, but these events only last a week or two. College golf lasts four years and the friendships you form with your teammates in those years will last a lifetime.
It may not all be plain sailing though. Playing golf as a team is something that a lot of golfers don’t experience until they start university. You have to learn very quickly how to operate as a unit, not as an individual. You need to learn to be selfless, to be totally supportive of people that you are, at the end of the day, trying to beat. You need to learn how to listen to each other, work with each other and play your best, together. You will have teammates from all over the world and you will learn how to celebrate all of your quirky individualities. You will be freshmen one year, learning the ropes, trying to find your way to class and practice on time, and the next year you will be trying to keep the new freshmen in line! Your role changes every year and you will learn to adapt to this new role and accept the responsibilities that come with it in order for the team to work.
Learning to succeed as a team was one of the biggest lessons I took from college golf. I am now playing professionally on the LPGA and am using those skills to help me work with the team I have around me so that I can perform at my best.
Another important lesson I learned was how to manage my time in a way that allowed me to excel both on the golf course and in the class room. Juggling any college sport with earning a degree is incredibly challenging, and at times overwhelming, but it teaches you to prioritize, to be proactive and efficient in your sport and your studies. Now as I navigate life as a touring pro, these skills are desperately important if I want to play my best. They will be equally important in whatever career you choose to pursue, whether in the sporting world or the business one.
The skills that you learn while playing college golf will benefit you long after you stop playing the game. It doesn’t just prepare you to be a better golfer, it prepares you to be a better person.
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