When you look at the numbers, it’s not hard to see why Madelene Sagstrom has already won two Symetra Tour tournaments, has finished in the top five in the six out of seven Symetra events that she has played, and has become the first Symetra player to ever earn over $100,000 in one season (in case you were wondering, the season isn’t even half over). She stands on top of the money list… outdoing second place by over $70,000.
Okay, so let’s check out the stats… Sagstrom is currently number one in driving distance averaging 277.3 yards off the tee. She is also number one in putts per greens in regulation at 1.72. And she is number one in scoring average, rounds under par, birdies, eagles, sub-par rounds, rounds in the 60s… you get the idea. It’s not exactly shocking how much she is dominating with numbers like that.
But of course, there is a human being behind all of those numbers. And, although it might seem like this golf thing comes easily to the 5’7”, 2014-2015 SEC Player of the Year, 23-year-old, LSU grad from Enkoping, Sweden… you must remember that golf isn’t really all that easy.
I finally had the chance to call Madelene and ask her about all of this golfing success. During our talk, her personality reminded me of a quote a friend of mine always says… “It’s nice to be important but it’s more important to be nice”. Yep, this Symetra Tour star is truly more concerned with working on herself as a person than as a golfer.
Her passion for golf started in Sweden, where she grew up watching the great Annika Sorenstam take the world by storm. Growing up, Madelene also played soccer and gymnastics but ultimately she chose golf. Why?
“I love the feeling of getting better in something I can measure. Golf is always going to be up to what I do and how much work I put in. The challenge of being all by yourself and lonely and vulnerable…. I just love it.”
After high school, Sagstrom decided she would give college golf a try. She made a connection with LSU head coach Karen Bahnsen and never looked back. She had an exceptional college career which culminated in her winning SEC Player of the year her senior year. But initially, LSU’s leading golfer was very disappointed that she didn’t do better in her college golf.
“I was really disappointed in myself in college. I felt like I failed at Nationals. It took me seven to eight months after the fact to realize that my college career had been very good and was not a failure.”
The feeling of not doing well enough has been one that Sagstrom has wrestled with much of her life.
“I have struggled ever since high school believing in myself and thinking I’m good enough at golf or as a person.”
Fortunately for everyone who enjoys good golf and seeing great athletes reach some of their full potential, last November, Sagstrom’s entire golf mental game and life mental game got a huge lift from Sweden golf great Robert Karlsson.
Boasting 12 professional wins himself, Karlsson found Sagstrom in Sweden last November while she was preparing for Stage III of LPGA Q-school. He has been with her ever since. About Karlsson, Sagstrom says,
“We’ve been doing tremendous work together. We basically took my life apart and started building it up again. We have worked on everything but golf… The entire year I have been working on liking myself as a person. If I make or miss a putt it doesn’t matter because I’m good. Before golf defined me, but now I have perspective.”
This simple but difficult change in mentality has made all the difference for Madelene this year. She knew that all she needed was for her game to “click” but she was “trying to force it”.
Now things are clicking and the LPGA better watch out.
With a 36 hole total of eight under par to earn medalist honors at Atlanta Georgia’s US Open Qualifier, Sagstrom will soon find herself competing with the best of the best at the US Women’s Open.
“I was so excited. I just sat in the car for the six-hour drive home and kept telling my caddy Josh, Oh my gosh we are going to the US Open!”
Caddy Josh has been another influential piece of the golf puzzle for Madelene. Madelene and Josh met on the Wednesday before she won her first Symetra event in Fort Meyers where he first caddied for Madelene. He has been on the bag ever since.
“Josh has been amazing. I could not have done this without him. He is that extra bit of trust I need.”
Although Madelene knows that she will inevitably be on the LPGA soon, she is in no rush to be there.
“I do not need to be on the LPGA to work on being a better golfer or a better person. I love the Symetra Tour and the people out here.”
Until her next Symetra events in the Midwest and her US Open showdown, Madelene will just be hanging at home in her college town of Baton Rouge being the “same person”.
Her new relaxation method these days is to work on puzzles. She’s got a thousand piece puzzle right now that’s giving her and her friends a run for their money.
Something tells me she will have it soon… I think she’s pretty good at putting together puzzles 🙂
It’s nice to be important but it’s more important to be nice.
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!”
Image credit: Feature photos by Scott A. Miller / Symetra Tour