In Her Own Words: Mallory Balckwelder
Exclusive interview with Mallory Blackwelder, 2010 LPGA Rookie
Q:What was it like growing up with a mom that was a professional golfer and teacher? (Kristen Alexis Engle, Facebook)
Kristin, growing up with my mom as a professional golfer was really cool. My brother and I actually traveled with her on the tour until he had to start school, so we got to go to some really amazing places as little kids. We came off the tour when I was only three, so I don't remember much of it, but we have some great home movies of those years. After we came home, though, it was even better that she was a pro. I was able to learn the game from her at such a young age and I was always getting constant (and free) golf lessons which was really nice. I am so blessed to have had the full support of my parents, and the fact that she knows exactly what I'm going through now that I'm a professional makes things so much easier.
Q: Is there a particular time of day that you play better? I'm not a morning person and can't imagine having to tee off before 7 a.m. How do you prepare for such early tee times? (Mark E.)
Mark, I am not a morning person by ANY means, but I have noticed that I actually tend to play better when I have early tee times. I think for me it is because my mind is sharper when I first wake up, and I haven't had any time for anything to distract me from thinking about the tournament. When I have an afternoon tee time, I tend to sleep in too late and I think that actually makes me feel more tired during the round. But if you get up early for an afternoon tee time, sometimes you think about it too much because you have so much time on your hands. So, even though I hate the 5:30 am wake up calls, I actually prefer to play in the morning!
Q: What are your favorite putting drills? What are your most common putting tips you give players? (Wendy Laub, Facebook)
Wendy, I have to admit, I'm not a big drill person. I am actually trying to incorporate more drills into my practice routine because they are really good for your game. As far as putting though, I like to start by doing the "around the world drill" with 3 footers. I'll make three in a row from one spot, and then go around the hole to three more spots and if I miss one I have to start over. I also like to use the yellow putting arc to practice with. This just grooves the path that I want my stroke to be on.
And the most common putting tip I would give someone is to stroke it with the shoulders instead of the hands and arms. You want your shoulders to control the putting stroke because there will be less error in timing of the hands and wrists. A good drill to practice this is to set up to the ball and have someone place a credit card or business card between your wrists so that it falls if the wrists get too involved in the stroke.
Q: I'm curious about rookies on the LPGA and if they are automatically assigned a senior player (or mentor) during their first year? (John, Ohio)
John, the LPGA does assign a mentor to the rookies each year. The "veteran" players volunteer to be one of the mentors and we get in contact with them at the beginning of the year. Really all of the veteran players are pretty helpful and offer advice if you need it. They've been there before so they know what it is like to need some help every once in a while!
Q: I play competitive golf for my high school and there are times when golf can be very frustrating. I'm sure as a professional golfer you have experienced this first hand. What has driven you to not give up when you've reached a rough patch or become frustrated? (Manuela)
Manuela, you are right, golf is a VERY frustrating game sometimes, and when you love it and are trying to play the best you can, it can be really discouraging to not perform well. I would say the thing that I think about most is what my mom has always told me. "It is a marathon not a sprint." Basically she is trying to say that in golf, you are never going to perfect it, and there is ALWAYS something else to be learned, so you just have to be patient and keep working on things. Playing golf as a professional can be very stressful sometimes because you are no longer playing "for the love of the game," you are playing to try and earn a living, so one little mistake on the course is magnified even more and is even more frustrating. When I get down on myself, I just try to remember that a golf career is not made up of one shot, one day, or even one tournament, so you just have to try and forget about the mistakes and move on to the next day because you never know when you will have the round of your life and get right back in the tournament!
Q: Please tell me what your swing thought is when you hit a drive? Are you from Kentucky? Where did you grow up, and who were/are your golf instructors who gave you your start in this sport? (Jennifer Van Arsdel, Bowling Green)
Jennifer, when I am playing in a tournament, I try not to have any swing thoughts because sometimes that messes me up. But a simple swing thought to think about on a drive would be just to think about your tempo. People tend to try and swing to hard with their driver, so I just try to swing smooth.
I am from Versailles, Kentucky and went to Woodford County High School. I grew up working with my mom, Myra Blackwelder, on my golf swing and recently also began working with Steve Geisler.
Q: I have a son, 14, that really wants to pursue golf as a profession. I have considered enrolling him in a Golf academy within the next couple of years. Would you recommend he attend a golf academy or just finish high school, go to college and see what happens? (Janie Wheeler)
Janie, this is a very difficult question. The most important thing I can say would be to try and let him determine whether or not he wants to go to a golf academy. Golf academies can be very good for players who know without a doubt that they want to play professionally. I never attended a golf academy because I didn't feel like that was right for me. I was very involved in other things in high school such as student council and being president of my class. But that was what I wanted to do. I considered moving to Florida in high school to go to a golf school but ultimately decided I wasn't ready for that.
My parents always left the decision up to me, and they never pushed me to play. I think this is very important because kids who "peak" too early tend to get burnt out and possibly even stop playing. It is hard to give advice on this though because everyone is so individual in what could be best for them. I think exploring the option of going to a golf academy is a great idea, and you and your son will just have to decide what is right for your family, because there have been plenty of successful pros who attended these types of academies but also there are plenty who haven't.
Q: I recently learned how to "golf" at a company tournament. Won myself a set of clubs. I was just wondering at what age you started golfing and if it came easily to you, or did you have to work hard at it? I'd love to know a little about where and how you started, and who inspired you to do what you do best! Thank you!! (Denise Fehr)
Denise, I started actually playing golf competitively when I was 11 years old. I had grown up with a golf club in my hand because my mom, Myra Blackwelder, played on the LPGA when I was little. Because of this, she started teaching me really early, and golf did sort of come easily to me at first. With the level that I'm at now, I have to work a lot harder because I am trying to compete with the best players in the world. Growing up with my mom being a pro was always really inspirational because I always looked up to her and what she was doing. And now we are actually the first ever mother/daughter members of the LPGA tour! Golf is a great game and I would encourage you to take some lessons from a local pro and continue to play!
Q: Golf is all about ups and downs. How do you deal with your down days of golf when things just aren't going so well? (Kristie Wong, CA)
Kristie, when I have an bad day on the golf course I just try to remember that it is only one day out of my career and it will be okay! This can be really difficult sometimes because I feel like I put a lot of pressure on certain tournaments, but ultimately one day IS only one day! In golf you never know when you could shoot 75-65 in a tournament so you just have to continue to look forward to the future instead of dwell on the negatives that have already happened!
Q: Do you have any pre and post round rituals/superstitions that you can't miss out on? (Bogey Russ, The Hackers Paradise)
Russ, the only thing I would say that I try to do before I play is eat a good meal! I prefer to eat breakfast food (eggs, bacon, & toast) over anything else, so if there is an IHOP or Cracker Barrel around I will go there for lunch on an afternoon tee time day and order breakfast! Also, I always play a Titleist 1 ball in the first round of a tournament!
Q: What's your favorite treat!? (JL, The Hackers Paradise)
JL, there are too many to name just one! But if I absolutely had to pick, it would be chocolate covered pretzels!
Q: Who will be the first person you call when you win your first LPGA tournament? (Onterloper, The Hackers Paradise)
The first person I would call would be my mom. Hopefully my dad will be caddying for me in that first win, and my mom would be there, but if not I would definitely call them first!
Q: What do you snack on during a round to keep your energy and strength? (Anonymous, The Hackers Paradise)
I try to snack on balanced foods while I play. I will make a PB&J, eat some trail mix with almonds and other nuts, and I also like CLIF Mojo Bars.
Q: Who got you started in golf and which LPGA pro is your biggest inspiration? (Royal Wulff, The Hackers Paradise)
My mom got me started in golf because she also played on the LPGA when I was a little kid. She was rookie of the year in 1980, so she is definitely one of my biggest inspirations. Besides my mom though I would have to say that Juli Inkster amazes me. The fact that she can still compete on such a high level and that she has raised kids while doing it is unbelievable. I want to have a family someday so she really inspires me.
Q: Besides golf, what other sports do you enjoy watching, playing or have a desire to be good at? Also, do you have any nonsport hobbies? (Anonymous)
I looooooove me some college football! :) My first two years of college I went to University of Florida and that turned me into a HUGE football fan. The atmosphere in the Swamp on game days is AMAZING!! I also enjoy watching basketball. I enjoy playing tennis but I'm not good at it! And as far as non-sport hobbies, I enjoy reading and I keep up with Grey's Anatomy when I can! I just bought a Kindle so I'm really excited about that!
Q: Who would be in your ultimate foursome? (Rebecca, WI)
Rebecca, my ultimate foursome would be me, Tiger Woods, Nancy Lopez, and Michael Jordan.
Q: What do you do to keep yourself occupied while on the road? (Jennifer, WA)
Jennifer, when I am on the road I read a lot and take most of my movies with me! I just bought a Kindle so that I don't have to pack actual books with me when I'm gone! I also am a textaholic, so I keep in touch with my family and friends back home and use Skype a lot too!
Q: Which LPGA tournament would mean the most to you to win and why? (R. Stone, IL)
Any LPGA tournament would be amazing to win, but if I had to pick one, I would want to win the U.S. Open. The Open is always such an unbelievable test of golf and you really have to fight to win that one.
Q: Everyone always tells us to stretch before a round. What stretching or warmup exercise do you do and how often? (Anonymous)
I always stretch my neck, back, arms, and legs before I start hitting balls. This is really important so that I can prevent injury. I also start hitting very short shots to get my body warmed up to the golf swing.
Q: Do you find that your friends and family treat you differently now that your are a LPGA touring pro? How do you stay grounded? (Blair, CA)
Blair, I don't think my friends and family treat me any differently. I feel like this has kind of always been "in progress" so everyone expected it. And because my mom also played on the LPGA, my family has already been down this road once! My friends know I'm just the same old Mallory, they just don't get to see me as often because I travel so much. But when I'm home my friends and I don't really talk about golf all that much, so this helps me kind of mentally get away from it sometimes.
Q: Which tournament did you enjoy the most this year? Which one was the worst? (Anonymous)
My favorite tournament this year was probably the Ladies European Tour event in Germany. The weather was horrible and I missed the cut, but being there was just really cool for some reason. We went into Munich one day and shopped and explored and the architecture there is just so amazing! I don't really know if I can pick a least favorite event because they are all good experiences and most of the cities I was in this year were pretty interesting!
Q: I have a daughter who just turned 16 and has played golf for 7 years. She gets down on herself if she hits a few bad shots and lets this affect her play the rest of the round. How can I help her? (Winnie)
Winnie, the most important advice my mom has given me on this subject is that one bad shot doesn't really mean all that much in the long run! You ALWAYS have to keep grinding during the round and never give up, because you never know when you're going to start making some long putts or even hole one out from the fairway. If you always keep your attitude positive, you can do some amazing things on the golf course even when you haven't started out the way you wanted to.
Q: I would die without my iPhone, what is the one thing (clothing, electronics) that you just can't live without when on tour? (Anonymous)
I would have to say I would die without my iPhone too! I am a bit of a textaholic so I'm on my phone constantly! I also couldn't live without Chapstick. Being in the sun and wind all the time makes this a necessity for me!
Q: What was your most memorable moment on tour this year? (Stephanie Wislon, CA)
Stephanie, I don't know if I can pick out one specific moment on tour this year that has really stood out because I've been to so many amazing places! I got to go to Morocco, Mexico, Turkey, Germany, Ireland, Wales, Austria, France, and Spain, and I am about to go to Korea and India. This year has been an amazing experience and I am just so lucky to be able to be doing something that I love and traveling the world!
To learn more about Mallory, visit her website at www.malloryblackwelderontour.com.
A special thanks to all our fans, friends and valued customers who submitted a question to Mallory and made this possible. In appreciation, you will receive a signed autographed photo of Mallory. We will be in touch with you individually to obtain your mailing address.
Congratulations to our Grand Prize winner, Blair from California. She will receive a $50 Golf4Her gift card. Everyone who submitted a question was entered into a drawing for the Grand Prize. The winner was randomly drawn on October 11, 2010.
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