by Jordan Perez, AmateurGolf.com
Sadie Englemann (Stanford Athletics photo)
Days before Stanford’s 2023 spring opener, the reigning national champions were presented a challenge. Lineup stalwarts in Rachel Heck
and Brooke Seay
would not make the trip to Palos Verdes for the Therese Hession Challenge due to injuries. More troubling news would follow: Sadie Englemann
tweaked her back.
After finding out the news from an athletic trainer, head coach Anne Walker insisted Sadie spend the next few days with ice and rest. Assuming Sadie would follow suit, Walker maintained business as usual. Sitting up in her office at Siebel Golf Varsity Training Complex, she sat on the phone before looking up at the range and noticed a familiar silhouette.
Walker hung up and marched out of her office. “What are you doing?” she asked Englemann.
“Don’t worry coach,” she assured. “I’m not gonna hit that many. But I’ve got to grind.” Her pleas fell on deaf ears. “You’re going to pack up your bag and march your butt over to the putting green,” Walker ordered.
And despite the head coach’s horror, Walker wasn’t surprised; this was classic Englemann. Described as having a heart of a lion, Walker told the Englemann during her recruitment they’d win a championship with her in the lineup – and that dream came to fruition at the end of her sophomore year.
“I went to Stanford to win a national championship,” she said. “That’s all I could have asked for.”
Halfway across the country was where Walker plucked Englemann. Born and raised in Austin, Texas, as an only child, Sadie spent significant time on a golf course with her stay-at-home dad, Mike, who saw a natural talent manifest from his three-year-old daughter. Eventually, he decided to enter Sadie into Texas junior golf events with quite the strategy; the older the competition, the better.
“The only way to get better is if you play people who are going to beat you and show you how to lose,” Mike told her. By the time eighth grade rolled around, so did the offers. A down-home Southern girl, Sadie grew up a Texas A&M fan from a strong lineage on her dad’s side. It was always assumed she’d stick around – making Stanford an unusually tough pitch.
“She didn’t really give me any indication of where she was going to go,” Walker says. A few nervous weeks would result, but the head coach would realize she had little to worry about. Sadie admits Stanford was her childhood dream school – but aside from prestige, she knew very little about it.
In a recruit, Walker found a player who quickly found success on the AJGA. The only player to shoot under par, she broke out in the Shanshan Feng Girls Invitational as a high school sophomore and was awarded an exemption into an Epson Tour event, fulfilling a dream of professional golf she still maintains. Earning medalist honors thirteen times, she’d go on to win back-to-back state titles before heading off to Stanford…online. COVID kept The Cardinal at home until the spring of 2021, when Englemann finally stepped foot on the campus of her dreams.
Young Sadie and her father Mike
The transition wasn’t seamless, but you wouldn’t know it by her start. She showed up big time in her first event, sharing medalist honors with teammate Seay in Englemann’s first event. That same year, she earned an invite to the Augusta National Women’s Amateur. But when Sadie reached college golf, she quickly realized she had some maturing to do. In tense moments, junior golfer Sadie found herself losing her cool.
“If I was going to be on a TV camera, I surely did not want to be having people talk about me as someone who doesn't know how to control their temper,” she said. Quickly, with the help of Walker, hothead Sadie became steady as ever.
And finally, only child Sadie had sisters – and one built-in best friend of 15 years in Rachel Heck, who is now her college roommate. Instead of states away, the two are now finally experiencing life and its challenges together. Heck recently underwent surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome. For two consecutive seasons, Heck has spent significant time away from the team due to health issues, a burden her best friend also carries.
“How can I be the positive person she is for her?” Englemann says. “We’re gonna step up for her. Whether or not it has to do with golf…if it’s the little things I can do, because she’s made everyone, my life included, so much better on the daily.” She keeps her circle small, but each person knows one thing is for sure: She’d run through a brick wall for each one.
Rachel Heck and Sadie
Never in Sadie’s concern for her best friend did she express what it could cost the team. Instead, she’s taking care of that with her own stellar play. Stanford’s spring strategy has revolved around a trio of Rose Zhang, Megha Ganne, and Englemann – and so far, they’ve hardly lost a step.
Though Stanford's new-look lineup stumbled out of the gates when it failed to hold a two-shot lead heading into the final round at the Therese Hession Challenge
and ultimately finished five strokes behind champion Oregon.
A week later, Englemann broke out quickly in the annual Battle of the Bay
against San Jose State. On a windy and piercing cold day at CordeValle, made five birdies and went bogey-free to dominate Louisa Carlbom, 4 and 3, garnering Stanford’s best result and her very first Pac-12 honor.
The explosiveness is standard Sadie. “We call her ‘Englebomb’ because she’s an amazing putter and once per round, she drops a bomb,” Walker says. She carried that momentum into the Juli Inkster at Meadow Club Invitational
, an event Stanford came just short of winning a year ago. The Cardinal returned with a vengeance. While plenty of the buzz surrounded Rose Zhang’s
school-record-tying victory, Englemann persevered through two days of nasty conditions at the Meadow Club and turned in steady rounds of 72-72-71 to tie for third at 1-under to help Stanford to a five-stroke victory over Pac-12 rival USC.
In many ways, that’s been the story of Englemann’s amateur career. The ultimate grinder, she is often overlooked until all the scores are counted and there she is, reliable and steady with a steely mental game, on the front page of the leaderboard.
In its quest to defend its national championship, Stanford is relying on Englemann more than ever before. The stakes are high, the stars have shifted, but Englemann is doing just fine taking center stage once again: “Sure, we’re defending, but we’re going to try to win the tournament just like we try to win every other tournament.”
Work ethic, team spirit, Englebombs: It’s she who has reminded Walker of one thing for certain, “I always have to make sure I have a Sadie Englemann on my team.”