by Jennifer Bermingham
When I was a young girl, I had a passion, I had a dream, I had an idol and it all revolved around the LPGA. I wanted to play on the LPGA and be just like Annika Sorenstam. As a junior, I used to watch the LPGA on Sunday, and write down the different golf shots that the pros successfully hit and unsuccessfully hit. I would watch how they acted both in victory and defeat. After the tournament was over, I would go to the golf course and practice the shots I watched in the tournament until I could execute them better than the pros did.
Last week, my dream became a reality. I played in my very first LPGA event at the 2016 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at Sahalee Country Club. My week started with Michelle Wie in front of me and Paula Creamer behind me in line to get my rental car. My heart was pounding harder than it was on the first tee shot on Thursday. I have only seen these icons on the TV and now I am playing in the same tournament as them and Paula is waiting on me!
When I first got to the golf course on Sunday before the tournament week, my hands were shaking so bad that I couldn’t hit golf balls on the range. The range was full with pros practicing, I didn’t know where to go or know anyone. It was by far the more nervous I have ever been in my whole life.
On Tuesday, there was a super fancy and fun party at the Novelty Hill Januik Winery. I was so excited to go, I even got my nails done. When I was at the party, I spotted my hero, Annika! I stopped in my tracks. She was talking to my friend LPGA pro Laurie Rinker and Laurie introduced me to her. Annika asked all about me, and I even got to take my picture with her. I was on cloud 9!
On Wednesday, the crowds started to grow. It is an adjustment when your name is behind you on the range and there is a bunch of people watching you. Then it happened! Lydia Ko put her golf bag next to mine and started hitting in front of me on the range. I thought, this is the coolest thing ever! I started crushing my driver and Lydia kept looking over her shoulder because my driver was making an awesome sound. It was a great feeling! That’s when I had this “aha” moment that I can do this! I have prepared myself for this moment since I was 9 years old. I have practiced all the shots. And although they play golf for a living and I teach golf for a living, this week we are equals.
On Thursday, when I got to the course, I wasn’t nearly as nervous as I thought I would be. I kept saying to believe in myself and stick to my routine. On the first tee, I crushed my driver right down the middle and made birdie on the first hole! Then I birdied my 3rd and 4th holes, and the Golf Channel started following me. I got to my 7th hole and I saw my name on the leaderboard. I wish I could freeze time in that moment.
On Friday, I had another great round and I made the cut! I have watched so many weekends at major championships and now I get to play in one. Fans even started asking for my autograph!
On Sunday, before my round, I was on Golf Channel’s Morning Drive. My normal Sundays are spent at the golf course with Morning Drive on in the pro shop. After my round, I was told that I got a trophy for the Low Teaching Professional, and I would get my trophy before Brooke Henderson got her champions trophy.
I felt like a butterfly last week. I started out as a caterpillar and by the end of the week, I blossomed into a beautiful butterfly. I started out shy and nervous and ended the week confident and proud. I felt like a Tour Star on Sunday.
I can’t wait to share this experience with the LPGA*USGA Girls Golf of Long Beach members. I know a lot of LPGA*USGA Girls Golf members have dreams of playing on the LPGA. My advice to you would be to work hard and believe in yourself. Practice with a purpose and always be willing to learn new shots or strategies. Playing in the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship was cooler than what I envisioned it to be as a kid watching Annika on Sunday afternoons.
Watch one of Jennifer’s Girls Golf members react to spotting her on TV!