Tuesday, August 12, 2014

How will you respond?

"Each morning when I open my eyes I say to myself: I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today, I can choose which it shall be. Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn't arrived yet. I have just one day, today, and I'm going to be happy in it."

One bad round. One bad round in match play, and I had lost my confidence. Luckily, God has blessed me with some amazing people in my life, and Samantha Marks, who is an amazing golfer, and currently plays golf for Arkansas, is one of them. I was feeling down, and I had been working really hard on taking my losses and regarding them as positives in order to help me become better. However, I will openly admit that after my match, I was more focused on the negative than the positive. Thankfully, Samantha helped me remember the positives; how it was God's plan - and that one off day does not change how I had played the previous two days. She told me how, "yes there is no way around the fact that losing is not fun," but then she ended that statement with: "But it is how you respond to it that makes you a champion. It's just ONE bad day."

I really needed that reminder, and at that time too. I am very thankful for her wonderful advice, and it allowed me to reflect back on my round and take away the positives from it. It allowed me to accept what had happened that day, and still be confident in my game. It reminded me that God has a plan for me, and losing my match was part of His plan for me. It reminded me to thank God for how far I had come in the last year, and reminded me that my hard work is paying off - I just have to keep moving along, and one day it will all make sense. It reminded me that God's plan is greater than my plan.

Then Samantha sent me a passage from her book: "365 Pocket Prayers for Women," and it not only hit home, but eased my anxiety on the round I had had earlier that day.

A prayer about WORTH When I'm trying to measure up

Heavenly Father,
It's hard for me to believe that your approval doesn't depend on what I do. I can get so caught up in the experience of serving you that I lose sight of the greatest privilege of all-knowing you and being known by you. May I never forget that having my name registered as a citizen of heaven means that I belong, without question, to your eternal Kingdom. Thank you, Lord! Nothing else I do on earth can compare with that privilege or joy. Free me from the trap of basing my identity and self-worth on my performance. I rejoice that my worth is based solely on your unconditional love.

How awesome is that? Completely turned my day around when I read it.

"Free me from the trap of basing my identity and self-worth on my performance."

If you are anything like me, then you have suffered from this so-called trap. In fact, I greatly suffered from it after losing my first match at the US Women's Amateur a couple of days ago. Although it never feels good to lose, this loss really got to me; it lowered my confidence. Coming off the loss, all I felt was embarrassed. I was more worried about how people were going to see how badly I lost, and overlook how well I played earlier to get to that position in the first place. I was extremely down on myself. I let my performance overtake my identity. But my performance does not prove my self-worth, it does not shape my identity. How amazing is it that my self worth is not based on my performance on the golf course, but it is SOLELY based on God's unconditional love. Sometimes I get so fearful of not measuring up to what people's expectations are of me, and when I don't play well - I feel like my self-worth is at an all time low. That is when you need to remind yourself that your worth is based off of God's Unconditional love, and no matter how you perform/how you play/what you shoot, it is not going to change the fact that you have someone who loves you - a bad day of golf WILL NOT change that, even if it feels like it will. It won't.

Another thing is you also need to develop your own unconditional love for yourself; that way if your performance is not up to par, you are still content with the day and what has happened, because it is just ONE day of golf. Instead of being hard on yourself, love yourself for fighting through the round, and getting the most out of it that you possibly could have. Love yourself enough to remind yourself that a bad round doesn't take anything away from all the good rounds you have played. Love yourself enough to believe that a bad round does not mean that you are a bad player; it simply means that you are human - and golf is hard, for everyone - even the Pros. Love yourself to know that you are much more than your performance. You are able to take away the positives, and know what you need to do to prepare better for the next round of golf. You have the power to make yourself happy or unhappy. Not events. YOU get to choose which it shall be. That round of golf is over, there is nothing more you can do about it. Focus on the NOW. You are able to choose happiness. I have right now, and I choose to be happy in it.

Always remember that you are worth SO much more and your identity is SO much greater than your performance on the golf course and the score you posted that day.

My motto: God's plan > my plan.

Like Samantha said: "Yes there is no way around the fact that losing is not fun, but it is how you respond to it that makes you a champion."

I'm choosing to respond in a way that will help make me a champion. I'm choosing to love myself unconditionally, just as God loves me unconditionally. I'm choosing to be happy today, and not let my performance reflect on my self-worth and my identity.

So how will you respond?

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Who are you playing for?

I was hitting balls on the driving range today when a man brought his two sons that were less than 4 years old. Dragging their two little golf bags up to their spots on the range, they took out their clubs and started hitting ball after ball - not caring about how far or straight the ball went. All they wanted to do was advance the ball, and after each shot they'd shout "Hey dad did you see that one! It went so far!" And far was about 10 feet in front of them, but when you're little - that's like the greatest golf shot ever. I looked at their dad and he said "Sorry for the noise, the littlest one only knows how to say 5 words and they all consist of golf terms." He was the most joyous little boy I had ever seen. "golf! golf! golf!" was all he said the entire time he was out there. You could tell he felt like he was at Disney World or something with how happy he was. That little smile after each ball that he hit 10 feet in front of him was the highlight of his day; and it became mine.

It took me back to the days when I was little, and I would beg my dad to take me out to the golf course. Our countless hours of him teaching me how to swing the golf club - and the excitement of watching the ball get even the slightest bit in the air. Those were the days.

Those were the days. Wait. They still are the days.
Although now the ball goes a little further than 10 feet, and I have started to care more about how far the ball is going and how straight I am hitting it. But they still are and should be 'the days'

All that joy you had when you were little and out there playing, you should still have now. Sometimes I get days where I feel like golf has become 'work' - and the pressure to play well has escalated. I get days where I really hate practicing, and I would rather be anywhere else than on the putting green slaving over 3 footers. Every athlete has a point where they get burnt out, it's at that point where you need to take a step back and remember that this is what you love to do - and being on the golf course is where you love to be. Being on a team, playing with your teammates - whom are my second family - is the highlight of my day. It fires me up and reminds me why I started to love golf in the first place. Seeing their happy faces does influence you and your mindset, and my teammates being in love with golf as much as I am - helps to remind myself of that fire, passion, and love I have for the game of golf. It helps me when I am out practicing slaving over those 3 footers, it gives me the drive to succeed, and it reminds me that golf isn't work, but instead what I love doing.

I am a competitive person, I love the thrill of going head to head with someone, and when I am on the golf course - I compete. I put on my game face, and no matter what - I want to come up on top. But putting this all aside, if I don't win or if I don't compete to the best of my ability - you know what? I am still doing what I love.

I am playing for the 3 year old Alexandra Rossi that went out to the driving range with her dad everyday, just because it was fun to do. I am playing for the 3 year old Alexandra Rossi, because that is when I fell in love with the game of golf. Who are you playing for?

Saturday, July 26, 2014

You're not defined by the score you posted today.

Today I started thinking about all the times I've told myself I was going to "quit" golf. Then I thought about all the times I went to practice or play later that day or the next day. 100%. I'm sure you can count on one hand all the people that have said 'they wanted to quit golf' and actually have - because in reality who would really want to quit something that is so much fun. It challenges you to persevere - it challenges you to deal with negatives and take away positives from it. It is a sport unlike any other, and I have a love hate relationship with it, and it switches back and forth on who loves who and who hates who - but in the end I could consider it the love of my life. And like all relationships - you go through struggles and hardships, but the thing that makes a difference is that you get through them, you keep persevering, and you keep fighting to make yourself better at what you do. In the end you have to remind yourself that golf is just a sport. It is just a game. A hobby. A thing people do. It is not who you are, it does not define you.

From personal experience, I have always struggled with the fact that golf defines who I am and that my score reflects the person I am. But in reality - it is just a score. Golf is hard, people understand that; and it doesn't always go your way on the course. That is golf. That is life. It is how you deal with it that matters. I cannot tell you how many times someone has told me: "Alex, your score doesn't define who you are." or "Alex, golf doesn't define you." It is easier said than done. But I decided to try and explain how I deal with this, and how I realize that I am not defined by what I do.

Rory McIlroy, who just won the The Open Championship, said it best when it comes to myself and my golf game:

"The way I play golf shouldn't determine who I am as a person, that's sort of been the case sometimes this year. I'm very hard on myself and feel like I'm emotionally connected to my golf game. If I play bad, I'll be in a bad mood. If I play well, I'll be in a good mood. Sometimes I feel I need to differentiate that. It's something I feel I've gotten better at and something I need to continue to get better at." 

Rory here basically speaks my mind. I know I am hard on myself, and I have high expectations for myself, and I also am 100% emotionally connected to my golf game, considering I've been swinging a golf club since before I could walk. And although this isn't necessarily always a bad thing, it can become one - and like everything, there needs to be a balance.

Golf is not who I am, it is what I do. I am not the score on my scorecard that I turn in after the round - whether it is good or bad.

How do you drill this into your head so that you believe it each and every single time you play golf? It's hard. It isn't easy, because again I am emotionally attached to my golf game - it is the love of my life. Realization is key - realizing you are more than a sharpied number on a scorecard, or the different stats you have circled on your stat sheet. What helps me realize is my faith in God. My all time favorite quote by Tim Tebow is: "I don't know what my future holds, but I do know who holds my future." You might not have played well today, but who knows what God has in store for you the next day, month, year.. etc... Before I played in a qualifier one year for a USGA event, my dad took me aside before I played and said: "God has already determined your score today Alex, now you just have to go out and reveal it." That quote has stuck with me since. How awesome it is for me to know that my score has been determined by someone Higher than me, and a heck of a lot smarter than me; so who am I to question or get angry with the score that God has set for me today. It was my job to go out there and hit the shots and reveal what the score is, and that is what I did - whether good or bad, I completed my task at hand - and that in itself will teach me what I need to work on for the future.

Like Rory states: 'I'm very hard on myself... if i play bad, i'll be in a bad mood. If I play well, I'll be in a good mood.' But why? I understand that when you do not play well, you do not have to be jumping up and down with joy - but why put yourself in a bad mood for the rest of the day. You have the control to realize that the score does not define you, and once you turn in the scorecard - it's over. It's done, and you go out the next day and forget about it, because there isn't anything you can do about it.

In the end golf is just a sport - and something that you GET to do. Like Jim Morris states to Brooks in the movie The Rookie: "Do you know what we get to do today Brooks? We get to play baseball."

So next time you get out before your round, just remind yourself that you GET to play golf, and what could be more fun than doing something that you love.

And remember, you are not defined by the score that you posted today.

Pony Up!

Thursday, July 24, 2014


A month or so ago Coach Sutherland emailed everyone on the team and told us to tell her our goals for the summer - and what we would like to accomplish. 

I thought I would share with you what I wrote just to give you an insight on what my summer has been looking like, and also so I know I will be held accountable by the world since this is now public to anyone who wants to see it :)

I would also like to state that even though these goals are what I am working on this summer, they are also things I will continue to work on even after the summer is over and our season starts. 

This summer I want to accomplish two things. First and foremost my short game. I want to keep developing my chipping / and get to where my up and downs are 75% above every round. I will continue to work around the greens, go out and play and hit different shots so I become comfortable with each shot. I will continue to look at the green, pick the target I want to land the ball at and picture the shot in my mind. I will measure my progress by keeping track of my up and downs throughout each round I play in the summer. I will keep myself accountable, and make sure to get a couple hours of practice in on my short game each day. When I achieve it, it will look like success. It will feel like success. And I will be one step closer to becoming the best I can be. 

My second thing I want to achieve this summer is getting stronger. I am working out at the facility in Austin called train 4 the game. I work out every morning at 7. (Besides Sundays) Working on core / strength to help me get physically ready for the season coming up. I have kept myself accountable doing this, and my coaches at train 4 the game have as well. 

In the next year or two, I want to accomplish a couple of things. First and foremost I want our team to make it to Nationals, compete at Nationals, and win Nationals. I want us to be a contender in every tournament we play throughout the season. This is also my dream for my team and myself. 

Start spreading the news

There's a month left of summer, and an exciting trip still to be taken. Jennifer and I are headed to New York in a week to play in the US Women's Amateur at Nassau Country Club. We both qualified at the qualifier in Dallas. Jennifer took second in the qualifier shooting a nice little 2 under 69 - and I finished T3 shooting 1 under 70. Only 11 players qualified out of the 106 players that tried out - so there was a ton of competition. I am so excited that both Jennifer and I have qualified and I cannot wait to take on New York with her in a week. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


What a couple of months it has been. I know I am a little late, but I am about to post a couple blogs to catch up on what the SMU Women's Golf team has been up too

--starting with BASKETBALL

A couple Saturdays ago, all of the athletes that achieved a GPA of 3.0 or higher in the Fall semester, were recognized at the SMU - UCF basketball game. At half time, we got to walk out on the court, in front of everyone, and it was actually really exciting. The men had also won (70 - 55) - and they were then ranked 18th, which was the best they had been since Feb 26, 1985. It was amazing to see how many people went to the men's basketball games this season. The games were ALWAYS sold out, and people actually camped out to get the tickets. They really are incredible and so much fun to watch. Unfortunately they didn't win the NIT game - but on the bright side, since UCONN won the National Championship - it technically makes us the best team in the country, because we beat UCONN twice - so JUST SAYING SMU MEN'S BASKETBALL is the bomb.com and for sure will be the team to fear next year.

 As you can see, we had all matched in jeans and our Red polo golf shirts. There were over 200 athletes that were honored at halftime, which was an incredible achievement! GO US! One of our main goals this semester was to have an average team GPA of 3.5. Not only do we want to excel on the golf course, but we are extremely dedicated in our studies as well. I am very proud of our team and the effort that we all put in to accomplish our goals and tasks. Narrowing the end of the semester, I think we have a good change of meeting our goal in the classroom - but if we don't we will try again next semester!

We all got together and watched the game together, which was a fun team thing to do. Although they didn't get the W, they still proved that they are a great team, and they gave it their best effort - and have come a long way, and will be ready and prepared next year.

Talking about the men's basketball team - another reason they were extremely successful this year was due to the invincible LARRY BROWN. He is an amazing head coach, and an extremely great guy. He took the time to talk to our team, which was really exciting. A quote that he had said that I really liked was: "Talent is God given, but Character is by choice"
Coach Larry Brown and myself 

Coach Brown also mentioned how he doesn't expect his players to be perfect, in fact he accepts the fact that his players make mistakes, and as long as they learn from it - they are actually beneficial. He stated: "A player who make no mistakes, doesn't help his team. Mistakes because of effort are good. Repeated mistakes mean a player isn't learning." Coach Brown said how a player can make zero mistakes in a game, yet not have helped the team win, whereas a player who made some mistakes - but put in a lot of effort and learned from those mistakes, helped his team win.

Larry Brown said he loves golf, because you can't blame anyone else. If he had any players that were selfish, he would tell them to play an individual sport.

He then told us two golf stories, in which I will tell ya'll my favorite one of the two he told

When he was at UCLA, Corey Pavin was a freshman - and every morning, for countless hours, he would put a garbage can out on the intramural field (near Brown's office) and hit wedges into the garbage can, therefore Corey and Coach Brown became pretty good friends. Corey invited Coach Brown out to play Bay Hill with him one day, and they were on a 440 yard par 4. Corey hit his drive out right into the woods, and had 215 yards out. The pin was up on top of a hill, and there was a steep ravine right behind it. Corey took a 2 iron, went into the woods, carved it around the trees, hit the top of the hill and it went into the water. Coach Brown then said to him: "Corey you would never do that in a tournament" and Corey responded "No, I would never hit it in the water."
This statement proves that his belief in himself is what made him great. 

This statement that Corey said is actually remarkable - his belief in himself is so great - and I aspire to have that confidence and belief in myself as Pavin does.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Looking back on the week

Monday we had bright and early workouts at 6:30 AM, and then each went our separate ways for class. Around 4 we all made our way back to Moody, and took our team pictures. We are one good looking team, if I do say so myself. I've learned to accept my spot at being the person on either end, because we always go tall in the middle, and then shorter people on the sides. And unfortunately, since Felicia graduated, I am now officially the shortest on the team.

After team pictures, we had the luxury of meeting and listening to the all time record setter for most tournaments ever won: Kathy Whitworth.
What a joy that was, hearing her speak about her life on tour, her accomplishments, and how she accomplished them. TAKE DEAD AIM. This was her main motto that she used and picked up from  her golf teacher Harvey Penick. This was actually really awesome for me, because where I take lessons is at Austin Country Club, where Harvey taught, and the motto TAKE DEAD AIM is still very much taught and in effect there. Anyways, why she talked about take dead aim to be her key point to success, is because take dead aim allows you to focus on the shot at hand, the future, rather than focusing on your past shots or mistakes. Whitworth has won 88 times on tour (a record that will most likely be impossible to beat), and she mentioned that she took second place 95 times. She is an inspiration, and an exquisite role model. Thank you for taking time to come and speak with us! It was such an honor to listen to you.

Tuesday we had a good practice, and a fun practice schedule, since the weather was a little warmer than the other days of the week. This is what our practice schedule consisted of:

Tuesday, February 4
Today will probably be the best day we have all week to practice and play, so get as much as you can from it.  Along with this schedule, you will find 6 new putting challenges.  Please choose one from each category and finish each, along with the 10 Putt Drill.  Work on putting for 45-60 minutes.
In the short game area please accomplish the following:
Wedges:  Work in sets of 3 balls.  Hit each wedge in your bag with a full swing, a 2/3 or ¾ swing, and a ½ swing.  Drop the balls at the appropriate distance for the shot.  Control trajectory and TAKE DEAD AIM.  Try out the idea of clipping the grass.  Work until your wedges’ distance control = your vision of the shot.  Can you control your spin?  If you are able to do this perfectly the first time through, it would be 27 great shots.  However, use the time to learn to hit the shot as you see it and repeat it.  Don’t worry about perfection; think instead of growing your wedge game.  Work on wedges for no more than 45 minutes.
Bunker:  Work in sets of 3 and hit these 24 shots:  3 from a good lie, 3 from an uphill, 3 from a downhill, 3 with the ball above your feet, 3 with the ball below your feet, 3 from a fried egg lie, 3 from a buried lie and 3 from a good lie.  No do overs!  If you didn’t care for a set, hit 3 more after the 24 are over.  Use your routine on each shot.  See the shot before you hit it.  How high will it fly?  How much sand will come out?  Where will it land?  Will it spin or roll out?  Use no more than 30 minutes in the bunker.

Spend the final hour of practice working on what you need in your game to give you the confidence to compete well.  Consider chipping and iron play, which were not on today’s schedule.

It was freezing outside, so practice was cancelled. But the team had been planning Jennifer's surprise 21st bday party for awhile, and Wednesday night is when we had it! She had absolutely no idea, because her birthday was actually in January, but since it was over the break - we wanted to celebrate it with her! Anyways, the team members came over to my apartment to set everything up, while I took Jennifer to dinner at Chipotle. I kept waiting for a text to come from one of my teammates, saying it was safe to come to the apartment, but it took a little longer than I thought to set up, so I had to stall. I stalled by telling Jennifer I really needed some make up at CVS. Only to find that when I got to CVS, the make up was more expensive then I thought it would be, and therefore I didn't want to buy it. At this point I was running out of ideas, and when I still hadn't gotten the text to come back to the apartment, I decided to go down every isle of CVS and look at everything they had to offer. 30 minutes we were walking around, until finally Jennifer (a little annoyed) was like "Are you meeting someone here or something?" At that moment I got the OK to come back to the apartment, and so I told Jennifer, nope lets go home. As soon as Jennifer walked through the door, the lights were off, and everyone yelled SURPRISE. She was so surprised she actually fell on the floor. It was AWESOME! We had such a fun night bonding over stories, eating cake and girl scout cookies, and playing games.