LPGA*USGA Girls Golf Member Highlight: Dani Swaggerty, Day 3

What were your experiences like at the Girls Golf Team Championship and the LPGA Leadership Academy?

When Louise suggested we play in the first Girls Golf Team Championship in the summer of 2012 at Kiawah Island Club-Cassique, this would be my first time playing outside of Tennessee, so she was asking me to go out of my comfort zone. And I admit being partnered with Kennedy Noe (my middle school coach’s daughter) stressed me out. I was just a year into playing golf and she was like this prodigy child and six years younger than me, but Louise knew we’d be okay playing with each other’s strengths and we were.

We won the Sandy LaBauve division with a 74/69 and hoisted and kissed a beautiful silver trophy that is still displayed in our dining room. My mom has a shelf with all kinds of reminders of our “ah huh” moments. That experience was the first big stage I was ever on with golf. We had an awesome caddy, John who guided us on both days and everyone from the LPGA were so approachable and made us feel like rock stars. And Kennedy and I have been best friends since and still get excited when we see each other.

I’ve played a lot more tournaments since. You’ve got to play tournaments and put yourself out there and continue moving your comfort zone forward. As Nancy Lopez shared with us at the Girls Golf team championship, you’ve gotta play holes to get better. It’s not just the practice you need, but putting yourself to the test. You do your homework (practice) well, you’ll do well on the test and keep improving, not only as a golfer, but as a person (and those dreaded AP and IB school exams). Kennedy and I got to see Nancy the following weekend at the Mad Anthonys Charity Golf Classic in Fort Wayne, Indiana (my aunt lives there) and it was pretty cool that she recognized us with high fives and hugs and personally autographed our pictures from the week before.

The tipping point for my senior year this year was attending the LPGA Leadership Academy this past August. Louise recommended me and my mom drove us the 750 miles from Knoxville, TN to Glen Arbor Golf Club in Bedford Hills, NY. We were back home in time for a high school match and everyone commented on how I was carrying myself more confidently. Well worth the trip, times a million, and a lot more bonding time with my mom in the car. LOL I left so inspired with the activities and listening to the success stories of amazing women to be more of a leader myself and conquer the fears and take the calculated risks that we need for personal development in every aspect of life. What was most rewarding is that I returned home with more knowledge to share than I expected. I not only learned how to be a better leader, but I also learned how to overcome my own challenges that prevent me from being the leader I never thought I could be. One of the simplest, yet most powerful acts I brought back of what we can do to get through the tough moments is our body language and posture. The Wonder Woman pose reminds us of our courage. I’ve been sharing that message with everyone and you know who my mom is at tournaments by her hands on her hips giving me the unspoken reminder (since she’s not allowed to talk to me during tournaments).

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