There was a point this summer where Ailsa Clark wondered if all of the time she spent on the golf course was worth it.
She was skipping around from tournament to tournament on the junior golf circuit, a demanding schedule that challenged her as much mentally as it did physically.
“I kind of got a little worn-out,” Clark said. “My parents and I sat down one day and talked about whether or not it was a good idea to run and run and run the way we were by traveling to tournaments everywhere. I will say looking back now it was the best thing I could have ever done.”
Clark, a former Navarre standout and now a freshman on the Florida Gulf Coast women’s golf team, said the experience she gained over the summer paid dividends during her fall season with the Eagles.
She played in four matches, including three as part of the top five on the team – the other was as an individual – as she proved she has the talent to hold her own on the course at the college level.
“When I was put into pressure situations in college, I was able to draw on my experiences from the summer,” Clark said. “It helped make me a better golfer.”
One of the more difficult moments of the season for Clark was the first time she ever played a match. It was at the Redbird Invitational at Illinois State in September. Clark shot an 81 in the opening round and ended the 36-hole event with a 238. She finished 22 over par.
“I didn’t play well and it was really frustrating,” Clark said. “I’m used to having my parents at my matches but they couldn’t make that one. I had my coaches and teammates there for support but your parents have such a big impact on your life, and when they aren’t there to watch you play, it’s tough. You have to find the internal motivation to keep going.”
Clark found it and went on to shoot a season-best 229 in an invitational at South Alabama a week later, including a 73 the opening day.
“I had the low round the first day even though I didn’t have my best drive or my best iron shot. But I was able to manage the game and that helped a lot,” Clark said. “It took a lot of pressure off me and helped me enjoy the game more. It made things easier on me and helped me allow the game to come to me.”
This story appeared in the Dec. 22 edition of the Navarre Press. Read more of the story in that edition or subscribe online here.