When Meghan Bolger (profile) sets her mind to doing something, she has a way of making a defining mark. Consider the following: She not only won one Philadelphia Amateur title, she won seven – in a row. In 2001, she was promoted to head women’s golf coach at the University of Mississippi, at the time making her the youngest Division I head coach in any sport at age 23.
And when it came to the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur, she enjoyed winning so much in 2006 that she won again in 2007 last October at Desert Forest Golf Club in Carefree, Ariz. By doing so, Bolger, 29, of Haddonfield, N.J., became the first repeat champion since Ellen Port (1995, ’96) and just the third to repeat in the 21-year history of the championship.
Recently, she shared her thoughts on the game, how a south Jersey girl ended up playing college golf in the South at Tulane University in New Orleans, and what she was doing when she found out she had been selected to the USA Curtis Cup squad.
You are the reigning two-time U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion. Do you have a hard time realizing that title belongs to you?
Meghan Bolger: Yes. It has been an amazing two years.
In the immediate aftermath of winning a championship, everyone says, “It feels great” or “I can’t believe it,” but it takes some distance to fully appreciate what you accomplished. When did that come for you?
Bolger: It hit me when I saw my name on the trophy, after all of the previous winners. I appreciate the wins every day in a different manner.
How sweet was winning the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur in October 2006 at Old Waverly Golf Course in West Point, Miss., while you were still the University of Mississippi women’s golf coach?
Bolger: Surreal. The local support was important. The golf course is beautiful and every staff member was great to work with.
How did you celebrate winning the first one and then the second?
Bolger: After the first win, I went directly to coach at a golf tournament [in Auburn, Ala.]. After the second I took a week off. I am still celebrating. It’s a lifelong celebration for me.
Which is more difficult, winning the first or second USGA title?
Bolger: Winning the first, you’ve never done [it]; winning the second means good fortune. The next one is the most difficult. I hope there is one.
How did a Jersey girl end up playing at Tulane?
Bolger: After deciding I was not going to play basketball and soccer in college, I knew I wanted to travel and have an incredible college experience.
Then you ended up in Oxford, Miss., to coach. How much different was Oxford than New Jersey?
Bolger: Oxford is a college town. You are surrounded by great people and dedicated fans. New Jersey is diverse. I am fortunate to have lived in both states and have made lifelong friends.
Why did you never give professional golf a try?
Bolger: My original plan was to gain coaching/work experience for two years and then begin my playing career. My plans changed a little; [I] coached for seven years, loved every second, and now have the commitment and dedication to play.
You were named the Ole Miss coach at age 23, only a couple of years older than your players. In what ways as a coach did you mature over the seven seasons in Oxford?
Bolger: As a coach and individual you are always learning. You learn from your mistakes as well as your triumphs. It’s important to gain the respect.
In what ways does being a coach help you in your own game?
Bolger: You need to be very patient. As a coach you watch a lot of golf and don’t have the time to play or practice. I developed more of a feel game, less mechanical, and loved every round of golf I played, good or not so good.
What’s more gratifying, winning a tournament as an individual or watching your team win a tournament?
Bolger: Both. I love to win. I am very competitive, but also learn from losing. It makes you a stronger person and player.
What were you doing when you found out you had been named to the 2008 USA Curtis Cup team?
Bolger: Pulling off the side of the road. My father and I just finished a qualifying round at Coral Ridge Country Club. It’s special to share with my family and friends
Is there something about you that would make people say “Hmm … ” or would be surprised to know?
Bolger: I love to cook, entertain and travel.
What is the most nervous you’ve ever been on a golf course?
Bolger: A tournament when I was being recruited. My coach still tells the story. Thank goodness my length off the tee impressed her more than my mental game that day.
You’re the first of five children in the Bolger family. Did you get the free pass or did your younger brothers and sisters have an easier time.
Bolger: Growing up was entertaining. Not sure how my parents pulled off every sporting event. We all worked hard in every sport we played. We still enjoy the competitiveness of all sports we play — the Thanksgiving Day football game is getting funnier every year.
What was the best advice you gave your players or that you live by?
Bolger: Enjoy every second of your life. Life is too short to let the little things in life affect who you are and who you want to become.
What’s been your biggest “Wow” moment as a golfer?
Bolger: Every time I meet someone new and make a lifelong friendship I am wowed. I love the stories from the past.
You won seven straight Philadelphia Amateurs? Does that make you sit back and go, ‘That’s pretty impressive?’
Bolger: I am proud to be part of the Philadelphia history with many other great players.