Roanne Tomlinson's golf journey has not been a straight line
ORLANDO, FL (January 3, 2018) - Roanne Tomlinson is not native to Florida. You could tell that much from two fairways away during the final round of the Orlando International Amateur at Disney World’s Palm Course. On an uncharacteristically cold late-December day, the Englishwoman wore short sleeves and a skirt while everyone else was bundled up.
Tomlinson led after 18 holes of that event, and was tied for the lead after 47 holes. But two untimely bogeys in the final stretch left the Kennesaw State junior three shots short of Katie Yoo, the 16-year-old winner. That doesn’t sit well for a player as competitive and single-minded as Tomlinson.
“She literally just tees up the ball, hits it hard and goes out and does it again,” said Kennesaw State coach Rhyll Brinsmead.
After last week’s close call, Tomlinson will tee it up at the Harder Hall on Jan. 4-6 in Sebring, Fla., before the spring semester resumes.
Tomlinson’s golf journey has not been a straight line. Despite having a Division I-caliber game, she bounced around junior-college golf for two years before finding her way to Kennesaw, Ga., an Atlanta suburb, under Brinsmead’s wing. The Tomlinsons moved from England to Florida and back during Roanne’s childhood, and when it was time to pick a university in the U.S., Tomlinson didn’t have the proper academic credits to go straight to the top level.
Even though her family was based in the Orlando area, Tomlinson connected with Seminole State (located in the Orlando suburb of Sanford) head coach Christa Teno too late to find a spot on that team. Teno already had filled her quota of two international players, so she sent Tomlinson to Texas, where Tomlinson found a spot on the McLennan Community College roster in Waco. She came back to Seminole State as a sophomore.
Tomlinson qualified for the NJCAA Championship with her team each of those two years, and finished T-2 as a freshman then T-3 as a sophomore. The experience built Tomlinson’s confidence. She was used to winning as a junior golfer in England, and that foundation grew. In the transition between Seminole State and Kennesaw State this summer, Tomlinson won the Florida State Golf Association Amateur Stroke Play.
“The week before that tournament, I didn’t practice at all,” Tomlinson admitted sheepishly.
When Tomlinson arrived at Kennesaw State in the fall, the good play continued. She won the first round of qualifying and started the season as the No. 1 player. The Owls finished third, fourth, second and tied for first in four fall starts, and the junior transfer was a big part of that. Tomlinson found a renewed vigor to practice when she transitioned to Division I.
“I think it has improved my game, having the right tools and facilities,” she said. “Before, I had no desire to practice.”
For her part, Brinsmead hit the jackpot when she secured Tomlinson. Brinsmead, well-respected by her coaching peers and unafraid to take a risk on an unheralded player, connected with Teno when she found herself short a player. She was impressed with Tomlinson’s NJCAA resume, and her instinct was good.
“I think that was a Wednesday and we had her up on that official visit that weekend and she committed on the spot,” Brinsmead said. “It was just one of those things where it was meant to be.”
Tomlinson fits very well into a roster of low-key, motivated players. The team just clicks, and Brinsmead has found no need this season for team-bonding exercises – it’s happening naturally.
Tomlinson is a player who puts in the work, but not in excess. She’s efficient without being exhaustive. Part of that may reflect her thoughts on the future.
“I don’t think I want to turn pro,” she said. Tomlinson is working toward a Culinary, Sustainability and Hospitality major, and imagines that might set her up nicely for a job in event planning. Perhaps even in golf.
Whatever she does, she’ll do it with heart.