Off the fringe: Kristin Walla
Feb. 13, 2009
After four years of Texas Athletics, I've met my fair share of peak athletes of all ages. It's not every day, though, that I get to meet a true living legend. Last Friday, my teammates and I had the unique pleasure of meeting one of the most legendary women's golfers of all time. In the world of golf, Kathy Whitworth has one of the most acclaimed, honored, and illustrious careers of all.
When Kathy Whitworth walked in the room I immediately felt as though I was in the presence of greatness. Amazingly, she still managed to give off a warm, friendly air, despite the fact that she has won more tournaments than Tiger or Annika. Her record 88 victories exceed any professional man or woman.
For a person who has been so successful, she is probably one of the most humble people I have ever met. She began her talk by telling us how she got addicted to golf. She said she couldn't believe how difficult it was. In every other sport she'd tried, she immediately excelled, but golf, she said, was so tough and frustrating it kept her out on the course for hours trying to figure it out.
So, rather than telling us stories of all her gallant victories, she gave us a few thoughts to help us get through the tough rounds. She reminded us that despite all of her wins, she lost a lot more. It is important to aim high, but not consider every loss as a complete failure. In fact, she said her first finish in the money was for only $33, but she was so happy, you'd have thought she won the whole tournament.
On the course she was a very focused player. She was always thinking ahead about the shot at hand, so that by the time she got up to the ball she had it narrowed down to two clubs. She, therefore, hated slow play and never had any time to visit with any of her competitors because she was too busy thinking about her own shot.
While she was the first woman to earn more than $1,000,000 on the LPGA, she said, it wasn't about the money. She truly fell in love with the sport, and once she got over the pressure to play from sponsors or her parents, she found her game. After a few years of inconsistent play, she won her first event in her third season and became the number one ranked player in the LPGA in her seventh year.
Through all her accomplishments and awards, she has remained a gracious and thankful person. The thing that I remember most about meeting her was how she carried herself. She exuded a confident yet modest air that made everyone in the room comfortable while simultaneously feeling the weight of her legendary talent. This is something I will remember every time I complete a tournament: win or lose, hold your head high and be thankful for the privilege of playing the greatest game of all.