Allyson Geer-Park (Matt Mitchell/MSU Athletics)
ORLANDO, Fla. – The UCF Challenge overlapped a mini milestone for Michigan State junior Allyson Geer-Park
. The second round fell on the six-month anniversary of her Aug. 4 nuptials. That’s a rare thing for a college golfer, but for Geer-Park, 20, it feels completely natural.
Geer-Park acknowledges that an early marriage is not for everyone. But over the course of a 10-minute conversation, she just as frequently uses the word “team” to describe her relationship with husband Nick Park as she does marriage.
“If you don’t have the ability to compartmentalize and know what you can and can’t handle, it could be really hard,” she said. For the Parks, it just works.
Geer-Park plays golf with that same kind of commitment and assertion. She went 8 under at Eagle Creek Golf Club in Orlando, Fla., to finish fourth at Michigan State’s spring-season opener last week. Teammate Yurika Tanida finished a shot behind her in a tie for fifth. To Geer-Park, that was a good indicator that northern-based players like her shouldn’t be counted out or considered at a disadvantage.
“I don’t feel like any of it hinders me,” she said of the Michigan climate. “It pushes me to work harder.”
Geer-Park is the middle of three Geer children. Her mother and her older sister were Spartans, and she wanted to be one, too. She committed to Michigan State before high school, and that was that. When she arrived in January 2017, she made all eight spring starts with the team and played to the second-lowest scoring average, 74.08.
In two and a half years, she has finished in the top 5 nine times, including last week in Orlando. Her breakthrough came at the beginning of the season, when she won the Mary Fossum Invitational, Michigan State’s home event. Geer-Park is No. 74 in the Golfweek
/Sagarin College Rankings, and fourth-best among players in a northern climate. She won back-to-back Michigan Women's Amateur titles in 2015 and '16, and this past summer won the Golf Association of Michigan Women's Championship.
In between the past two seasons, the Brighton, Mich., native has also qualified to play in her home-state LPGA event, the Meijer LPGA Classic. Two years ago, she played in the Symetra Tour’s Tullymore Classic and finished T-33. Last summer, Geer-Park left the day after her wedding to play the U.S. Women’s Amateur. She was eliminated in a nine-for-one playoff into match play.
Under head coach Stacy Slobodnik-Stoll, Geer-Park says she has learned how to score. She didn’t make very many mistakes when she was a junior golfer, but she also didn’t put herself in position to make many birdies. Her putting has improved, too.
“With my putting and the drills, they’ve just helped me with the competitiveness, feeling in pressure situations that I could make five, six birdies in a round,” she said.
The 20-year-old has also created every opportunity that she can for herself. She completed her high school coursework through home school, which gave her more freedom to golf. Sometimes, that meant traveling south with her mom – specifically to Florida to get some time on real grass. Over Christmas, she and husband Nick spent 10 days in South Carolina fine-tuning.
Their next golf trip will arguably be their best yet. Courtesy of her position in the World Amateur Golf Ranking (also No. 74), Geer-Park received an invitation to play in the inaugural Augusta National Women’s Amateur. She will be Michigan State’s only representative.
“You play for goals, and when I heard about Augusta, it became a goal, but I knew that if I just kept playing my game and if I just kept progressing the way I needed to progress in my career, I would have that opportunity,” she said.
Her husband will caddie, and though Geer-Park hesitates to say it, he may be even more excited than she is. Nick is a former college golfer at Eastern Michigan.
“I’ve never seen him so happy,” she said of asking him to carry the bag. Choosing him for the job “had a little to do with him being my husband,” but the two also work well together on the course.
“Being able to compartmentalize the husband and caddie relationships, he does a great job,” she said. “It takes a certain personality, a certain couple.”
Add in “a certain determination.” That’s Geer-Park’s strong suit.