What’s the best way to motivate Mississippi Bulldog Alum, Ally McDonald, to play great golf?
Too easy…. Tell her she can’t.
“One of the most motivating things for me is someone telling me I am incapable of accomplishing something. When I was 16, I was playing in a pretty big golf tournament. A lady was commentating and said I would never make it on the LPGA and mentioned a couple of reasons why. That has stuck with me and given me some extra grit on days when it might not be easy.”
Yep… that lady was pretty wrong… Ally just had one of the highest earning seasons ever from a Symetra Tour player. She finished second on the money list and earned her LPGA Tour Card via the Volvik Race for the Card Top Ten.
Let’s take a minute to appreciate the stats that this young woman put together this past season.
First, the big one…. McDonald finished second on the Symetra Tour Money List earning $110,359 and becoming one of only two players to ever earn over $100,000 in one year.
She did that by having eight top ten finishes… four of which were second places.
“I was disappointed I never got a win. I had a few chances… in every tournament, except the Tour Championship, I wasn’t really at the top of the leaderboard (heading into the last day). I just put together a low score (in the final round) that got me up there. I fought hard at the Championship and gave myself a great chance to win. Nicole and I went head to head all day, but she got it done in a playoff.”
Hopefully, somebody will go ahead and tell Ally that she can’t win on the LPGA because then I will be able to make a sure bet that she will. I do believe she can, and you probably should too because Ally is taking a plethora of game with her to the Big Leagues.
As you can see, when we look deeper into the stats, Ally was ranked an impressive 4th in greens in regulation, 6th in putts per green, 5th in total eagles, second in rounds in the 60’s, 4th in birdies, 11th in driving distance, and 15th in driving accuracy. Obviously, her all-around game stacks up at every dimension… putts, fairways, greens, power, scoring… she’s really good.
So what can she still work on this winter to help her be ready for her 2017 LPGA rookie year?
“This offseason, I will just be getting stronger and sharpening my skills. I want to be fully prepared physically and mentally come January. So, I will be working hard to make sure I am ready for that first event and ready for the grinds of the year. I’ll be excited for the adventure.”
Certainly, Ally will take many of the lessons that she learned while grinding this year on the Symetra Tour with her to the LPGA. One of the big challenges she was able to practice dealing with was the difficulty of life on the road.
“The travel, along with the physical and mental strain, is not something that’s easy to adjust to if you aren’t used to it. There is definitely a learning curve to everything.”
But, as those of us who love a challenge know, it’s usually the hard parts about a profession that are essential to making it so awesome too.
“My favorite thing was probably meeting everyone and seeing a lot of new places. Travel is hard, but nothing beats seeing some of the amazing places we get to see.”
I couldn’t agree more with those sentiments.
I asked Ally if she had any advice for cursed folks who were still trying to figure out how to golf… (so that maybe they could find their inner Ally)… and I thought her answer was really insightful. It’s something that I have also thought for a long time as being true and helpful.
“Well, I think the old saying ‘drive for show, and putt for dough’ has a double standard. There is more importance to driving the ball than the amateur might realize. For myself, trying to set up in the fairway was always key to scoring. If you aren’t in the fairway, you are either scrambling or looking at a more difficult shot from the rough. Sure, you need to make putts to shoot low scores, but the emphasis should always begin on driving it in the fairway.”
Alright, so that’s one fundamental key to success, but what else was Ally thinking during her charge to the top? Why does she even play golf in the first place?
“I play golf because I love the game. I love the competition and everything that goes with it. Some days are a grind, but the days that aren’t are why I come back for more. God blessed me so much when he gave me this gift. I hope I can be a light wherever I go.”
Ally also emphasized a few other themes that have been a key to her success as well. The essentials she mentioned- trust, work ethic, confidence, and humility are good ones, and I have heard them from many good players before.
“I trusted that my process and work would produce the results. This game will beat you up fast, so it’s always important to be confident in your ability. Be confident but be humble.”
And, like we all know, sometimes that is easier said than done.
Like all of us, Ally knows the feeling of an errant golf shot all too well. I learned this as she told me all about her most embarrassing golf story…
“I played golf in high school with the boys and I will never forget the State Tournament my Freshman year. I was hitting a bunker shot- I swung and I was looking around for the ball. It proceeded to hit the bill of my cap. Well… I was the talk of the clubhouse. All the guys at the scoreboard were talking about how this girl hit herself in the head with her ball. I was the only girl playing, so, of course, it was me, and everyone snickered and stared.”
Well, yeah, that was a rough one! But the good news for Ally is that although she’s still the talk of the clubhouse, people aren’t snickering anymore. In fact, I think most of the LPGA fans out there will most definitely just be staring in awe rather than amusement because of how well she hits a golf ball these days.
All of us here at Womensgolf.com wish Ally nothing but the best in her endeavor to play her best golf next year on the LPGA.
From Allie to Ally… go get ‘em!
Allie White from Lancaster, Ohio, is a professional golfer and golf journalist. She is currently pursuing her Masters in Journalism at Ohio University. With four years of experience on the Symetra Tour, a cut-made at the 2009 U.S. Women’s Open, and a 2016 Ohio Open Championship, White hopes to continue her golf career during her academic breaks.
My two biggest golf dreams are to play in Toledo Ohio’s LPGA event and to make it back to another US Open. I’m still hunting for that first hole in one!”