It was never my dream to play golf professionally when I was growing up. I always wanted to be a ballet dancer and then a tennis player. It wasn't until I was about 17 that I even thought about playing golf. My parents and brother are all golfers so I guess it was inevitable that I would eventually play but I had always hated the idea.
I saw golf clubs as stuffy, intimidating and boring however that all changed during my last year of school at Epsom College. I played a lot of tennis before I took up golf and was fortunate to have a great coach, who along with my parents taught me the value of hard work and determination. I had a very sporty upbringing and we were always active as a family so when I had a string of minor injuries playing tennis, I had to do something to fill the void. I started going to the golf club with my family and started chipping and putting, which then progressed to hitting balls and going out on the course. My mum would spend hours with me at the range helping me with my game and I soon became hooked. I started playing in some local junior tournaments and the first one I played at Wimbledon Park, I won the nett prize with a score of 54. My brother was also playing this event and when I saw him and my dad at the end of the round I had to get them to check my score as I didn't know what I was doing and they didn't believe that I’d shot that score.
My first real ambition to turn pro came when my mum took me to St Andrews to watch the Women's British Open. I was over awed at all these amazing women playing golf, I loved their clothes and their style but also and how strong and powerful they looked on the golf course. I really enjoyed the atmosphere at St Andrews and was lucky enough to go back and play a tournament there a few years after I had watched the tournament.
After Epsom College, I was awarded a golf scholarship to Florida International University in Miami. Playing collegiate tournaments was great and I loved competing against other girls and meeting people from all over the world. After two great years in America, I decided to turn pro. Playing on tour was a wonderful experience as I was able to visit so many different countries and was lucky enough to have my mum travel with me to some tournaments. One of my favourite countries I have visited is Australia and my favourite tournament I have played in was at 13th Beach Golf Club outside of Melbourne. I was staying right on the 18th hole on the top floor of an apartment building with amazing views over the golf course. Most of the players were also staying with families on the course that week which was nice as everyone was together. This tournament was unusual as the men and women were playing a tournament at the same time. It was a great format and would love to see more tournaments like it across the world. There was a group of women followed by a group of men which was nice for the spectators as they were able to watch a variety of golf.
Another course that I will always remember was the course at Sun City, in South Africa. It was excruciatingly hot and there were wild animals roaming the course. We had course rangers standing on the first tee with paintball guns as there were baboons running around everywhere. After playing well in a number of tournaments in South Africa I qualified for the Investec Cup Finals to be held at Millvale, which is so exclusive and remote that we had extreme difficulty trying to find it. Another player and I ended up driving down lots of mud tracks with large overhanging branches and manged to get what we thought was completely lost until we stumbled upon one of the best courses I’ve ever played.
After playing on tour for more than four years, I have now started coaching at Foxhills Golf Club which I am loving and I really enjoy helping people to achieve their goals in golf. They have amazing facilities there and a great junior programme which is fantastic. I am hoping to help them build an even more successful academy for all golfers where I will be focusing on encouraging more women and girls to take up the game. It is my hope that more people will take up golf, so if you’ve never tried, go down to your local course and check it out. Hope to see you all on the golf course soon!
Lauren is a PGA Professional at Foxhills Club and Resort and is available for lessons. You can contact her via email at email@example.com or follow her on social media. Insatgram: @laurenblease89 Twitter: @laurenblease.