Lauren Greenlief (left) with Four-Ball partner Katie Miller (VSGA/Facebook photo)
plays golf for herself. It may seem like a simple statement, but it’s a world of difference from college golf and professional golf to amateur golf.
“There’s less pressure and the game becomes more fun,” said Greenlief, who, at 28, has a firm grasp on how to juggle this game with a full-time job as a management consultant at the Boston Consulting Group.
At the heart of Greenlief’s success – and there has been plenty this summer – is a sheer love for competitive golf. She calls that realization “the big unlock” for her in terms of prioritizing commitments and opening the door for as many tournaments as possible. As a college golfer at the University of Virginia, Greenlief always planned to establish herself in her career so that with a firm footing, she could go back to golf.
Now is that time.
“I realized that I love playing the game and I wanted to find a way to do it,” Greenlief said simply.
Every two years, Greenlief tries to recommit time to her game, whatever that may mean at the time. Earlier this summer, Greenlief moved to an internal role at BCG. With no client meetings, Greenlief went from traveling four days a week to being at home in Ashburn, Va.
“I could work around my hours and practice five or six days a week,” she said.
The fruits of her practice are noticeable. In July, Greenlief defended her Virginia Women’s Amateur title. She advanced to the quarterfinals at the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur and perhaps most notably, also advanced to the quarterfinals at the U.S. Women’s Amateur. It was the first time in six tries that Greenlief had made it to match play at the event. And then she kept winning.
Most recently, Greenlief competed in the Virginia Men’s Mid-Amateur, made the cut and finished T-23 at Winchester Country Club. There is no Women's Mid-Amateur in Virginia, so for Greenlief, it was an obvious decision to play in the men's event. Fellow competitors welcomed her, and she fit right in.
“It’s one of the hardest 6,400-yard golf courses you’ll play in Virginia,” she said of the venue.
Greenlief did a similar drill in 2015, only that year she dropped her workload from her usual 100 percent capacity to 50 percent. That was the year she won the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur, and became the youngest player to do it.
Winning a national title put Greenlief on her coworkers’ radar. Golf wasn’t just a hobby, it was a serious commitment outside of work. After the Women’s Mid-Am, Greenlief recommitted to her job once again, found a way to balance work with the game, and has been able to comfortably juggle six to eight tournaments each season. She’s still looking at options for 2019 that might free up the summer months to play the elite women’s amateur events.
Greenlief was ranked No. 1,288 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking when she made her Women’s Amateur run this summer, which shows that ranking is not everything. It can be tough to hold a good position if you compete relatively infrequently.
“I didn’t really feel like I played like the 1288 player in the world,” she said, “going head to head with some of the top college players and top juniors and playing against them in match play and proving to myself that I am good enough to compete and win in this environment regardless of my world rank.”
Greenlief, whose brain is built for numbers, is already looking ahead to what a better ranking might set up for 2019. She has climbed to the No. 427 position.
Greenlief’s goals for her game are big, but doors are opening all the time – especially as she establishes herself as one of the nation’s top female mid-amateurs. A 2020 Curtis Cup bid is in her sights, and the Augusta National Women’s Amateur caught her attention immediately.
Expect Greenlief to continue creating her own opportunities.
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OUR CUPS RUNNETH OVER
: As the competitive amateur season winds down, for many associations, that means it’s bragging-rights season. Over the past week, several associations have sparred against each other in season-ending matches. The highlights:
Connecticut broke Massachusett’s 14-year winning streak in the two-day event that dates to the early 1900s and features the top players from Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
These matches between the top amateurs and professionals in the Pacific Northwester are conducted by the Pacific Northwest Section of the PGA of America in cooperation with the Oregon and Washington State Golf Associations. Remarkably, this year’s matches ended in a draw. The Pacific Northwest PGA (PNWPGA) professionals retained the cup considering they won the event in 2017.
NCGA amateurs found themselves on top, as usual, after defeating NCPGA professionals. The pros won last year, but it was the first time in 10 years that the amateurs had lost the cup.
The senior version of the Hanna-Wehrman. The NCGA won this one, too, but much more handily. The NCGA rolled to a 20.5-7.5 victory after winning blitzing the NCPGA seniors on the first day, 13-1.
Top North Carolina and South Carolina players joined forces to take down players from Virginia and West Virginia – and on Virginia soil, no less. The win was the third straight for the visiting team in the annual series.
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QUOTE OF THE WEEK: ON GIVING BACK
“I think my motivation has been, golf was there for me when I needed it the most in my life. This is where I’ve done my volunteer work. I just love the game, I think it’s the greatest game. It can be enjoyed by so many.”
-Frank Ford, on giving back to the game (click here to read Ford’s story after winning his first super-senior title last week
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TWEET OF THE WEEK: ON AMATEUR STATUS
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Q&A WITH…Gail Rogers
, vice president of the Northern California Golf Association, who captained the NCGA teams at last week’s Hanna-Wehrman and Staedler-Jetters cups. Rogers is a longtime rules official who has garnered tremendous respect in her work with the NCGA, Women’s Golf Association of Northern California and the USGA. Rogers’ legacy in the game has been about knowledge of the rules and giving her time to help run various amateur events.
1. The NCGA team defeated the NCPGA team in both cups last week. What was the highlight of the matches for you?
What was fun for me was the senior players, some of the gentleman who have played golf against each other since they were junior players. There’s a really long history there which is just wonderful. They’re all friends but they love beating each other.
2. What does it say about these two groups of amateurs who were able to beat the NCPGA teams in both events?
Gail Rogers with the winning NCGA team
When you look at the swings of all of them, anybody could have won. It comes down to making a few putts or getting a lucky bounce. Sometimes it comes down to the first part of it, it’s a modified Chapman so they each hit a drive then they switch, then they pick and play alternate shot in from that point. That’s a hard format, sometimes you’re paired with the right person, your personalities click, and sometimes you have a round where your upper body and lower body aren’t really being friends. I think golf is in a very good state, whether it’s for the pros or the amateurs.
3. You’ll be the next NCGA President. You have done a lot of service to the game through the NCGA, being on the USGA Women’s Committee, being a rules official. You see the game from a lot of angles and have given a lot back. Why has that been important to you?
I’m not sure how it all got started, but it was intriguing to learn the Rules of Golf when I discovered the decisions book and being able to volunteer and help people with rules. It was academically interesting to me. I was more of a book worm than an athlete, so that’s maybe what got me started. I really loved the players and being out there with them. I think I’m a really good cheerleader. I always approach the rules as they’re there, but they’re really there to help us.
4. As you get ready to take over the NCGA presidency, what is the biggest issue facing the organization – something coming down the pipe or at least a priority?
Well, the USGA made a policy a couple of years ago, they changed their associations that issue handicaps. So we have allied golf associations now, so that means that we needed to work with the two women’s golf associations and try to come up with one grouping of all of us that will work well for everybody. So that’s our big challenge this next year as we combine the Pacific Women’s Golf Association and the Women’s Golf Association of Northern California under the umbrella of the NCGA. I think we’re in a good spot to do that. We all listen to each other and everybody has had plenty of time for comment and input and thoughtfulness and so I think the best thing that’s happening is probably for the players, that they really won’t notice much of a difference in what’s happening. Then the other aspect is that we’re really looking at a group that’s really been underserved. Our working women, there hasn’t been a huge number of opportunities for them to play competitively on the weekends. Starting in 2020, when we’re merged, hopefully this will be one of the things that we can do for the mid-amateur women who are working, who have left college and have jobs now and can only play on a Saturday or a Sunday.
5. What’s the best golf course in Northern California and why?
I’m sitting at Pasatiempo right now, which is my course. How could it be any better than this one? We have done a lot of great things, so why? First of all, it was established by a woman, so that makes me feel really good about it. Marion Hollins was very much ahead of her time in terms of what she did for women’s golf and golf in general. She was the first captain of the Curtis Cup and she was also on the first women’s committee for the USGA. She did a lot of things – she helped figure out where the famous 16th hole should be at Cyprus Point when she dropped a ball in the weeds and hit it to where the green is now, over the water. She was a U.S. Amateur player. I have a lot to be proud of to be a part of this legacy at Pasatiempo, and I was on the board here and we worked on – and finally I got, after I left – recycled water for our golf course. That’s been a huge accomplishment for our course in taking care of the environment. We have a wonderful superintendent for that, we have an Audubon Society program here so besides just a championship course, it’s never boring. Every day is different. I couldn’t find a better place to be than this one.