Hi Everyone!! I apologize for the delay since my last post…I promise to be better in the future! The last few months have been super busy with intensive training in Naples, FL, and getting incorporated as Emily Gimpel Tour Golfer, LLC. Dealing with many of the more-complicated-than-expected business aspects and traveling for the PGA Show and outings, a few Suncoast mini-tour events, and an LPGA qualifier have kept me very busy!
However, this past week has been the CRAZIEST…so crazy that I thought the only appropriate title for this post would be “March Madness”! Can’t wait to fill you all in.
I came off a very exciting week in Orlando working the Junior Clinic at the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill, where I also had the chance to play Isleworth! When the tournament entries closed for the Symetra Tour’s first event as part of its 2015 Florida Swing- the Florida’s Natural Charity Classic in Lake Wales, FL- I was listed as 7th alternate. I’m thinking- bummer! No chance, right?! Wrong…
As of that weekend I was down to 5th alternate and so I decided to make the trip from Naples to Lake Wales on Monday to be nearby “just in case”. I really had no idea what to expect. I played a practice round in the rain at Lake Wales Country Club with my good friend Christina Vosters before driving up to Winter Park to stay with my friends the Burns Family for the week (thank you for the hospitality in your beautiful home again by the way J!) Of course my car broke down in the rain on the way but thankfully restarted.
I stayed in Winter Park so that I could be close enough to Lake Wales if need be (still thinking really slim chances early in the week at 4th alternate). Tuesday and Wednesday I practiced at Orange County National and kept up my work-out routines…love the facilities there…as we were not able to play any additional practice rounds at Lake Wales, so I just tried to relax and be ready. (We had some exciting follow-ups on the business side during those days that I should be able to announce soon! I definitely underestimated how much time that stuff takes.)
As of Thursday morning (the day before Round 1) I was down to 1st alternate (ahhhh!!! Just wanted to play!!!)…so I headed back to Lake Wales CC to practice some short game and remained optimistic for good news! I was still listed as 1st alternate by the end of the day, so the Symetra Tour officials told me to be on site early before the first tee time Friday in case of any withdrawals (WD’s).
Now here is how Friday went down…..Alarm: 5:30 AM. Got dressed, ate breakfast, at the course by 6:30 AM. Checked in with the Symetra Tour officials and headed to the driving range! The morning wave was from 7:45-9:35 AM so I had to be prepared. I stretched for what seemed like forever then proceeded to hit balls (in the dark) from 6:45-8:00 AM. Then I headed to the putting green which is where I remained until the end of the first wave. No good news yet. I am bummed but still staying super positive. Really wanted the chance to play but knew it was out of my control. Weather was about 80 degrees and nice. I learned after arrival that Friday was “College Day” so at least I had my “Terp” mascot driver headcover and golf bag and UMD Terps Golf made it on the tweeted photo posted by the Tour! Go Terps (#terpontour)!
Around 11 AM, two of the Symetra officials found me and when I saw their thumbs up, I knew I was in! How thrilling! After all of the anticipation/stress/prayers from the past week, I finally was getting the chance to play in my first Symetra Tour event! WOOOOOO! I was super excited just to be given the opportunity to tee it up and could not wait until my 1:45 PM tee time!
I headed to the locker room to relax and regroup for a bit, then went back out a little over an hour before my tee time to warm up. I had a great group playing with two really nice girls- Grace Na, another rookie like me, and Nicole Jeray, a veteran on both the LPGA and Symetra Tours. We were having a blast on our first two holes…and then the horn blew! Whipping winds were bringing in the typical Florida thunder storms and we had about a 2 hour lightning delay in the clubhouse (this is becoming the longest day ever right?!) Somehow the temperatures dropped some 40 degrees- from 80s to 40s, in just 6 hours!
Around 3:30 PM we heard we could warm up and that play would resume at 4 PM. I hit a few balls (in the now pouring rain) and then we headed back out! We got in much more of the round than any of us expected from looking at the radar, but luckily we finished 16 holes on Friday as we played until dark- almost 8 PM. It was a tough grind in the pouring rain and colder temps without a caddie and I was so proud of myself for toughing it out after the long day I had!
I got back to my host family’s home a little after 8 PM- they were angels by the way (fellow Pennsylvanians- love it!), and the Vokes’ had dinner ready for me which was amazing!! Mr. and Mrs. Vokes helped me to dry off all of my golf clubs and every knick knack I keep in my golf bag as I looked like a wet rat after enduring that storm. I told them I didn’t think my own family (God bless them- love you guys!) would have done that for me!!
I had to return to the course early the following morning for the resumption of my first round at 7:45 AM and then the start of my second round at 9:20 AM. While hitting balls again in the dark (they all went straight of course!), I see a familiar face walk up behind me and sure enough it was my Dad! I was so excited and overcome with emotion that he had flown down from PA late the night before after work to caddy for me on Saturday! He is the best Dad in the entire world I swear- I am so blessed. He was on the bag for 20 holes on Saturday and even though I did not have my “A game”, we had a blast!!
I was so excited to see what a Symetra Tour event is like, and I am feeling so positive and encouraged. I have a few areas I know I need to work on, but I am so extremely confident that I can play and contend out there very soon! And the girls out there are great, they all seem to support each other as we have all been through weeks like this one, and I am now more optimistic than ever in both my golf game and my life. I have the greatest support system behind me.
BIG thank you’s to my host families from the past week- the Burns Family- you guys are the best! Having me stay in your lovely home at a moment’s notice- I am so grateful. And to Mr. and Mrs. Vokes- thank you so much for hosting me during the event! The comfort and convenience of your home was amazing, and you and your friends are some of the nicest, most positive & encouraging people I have ever met!
To the Symetra Tour officials- thank you SO much for all of your help this week. You responded quickly to my emails and were very professional and helpful. I am learning new things about the Tour every day being a rookie and I am really grateful for your guidance and direction on this new journey of mine!
To Florida’s Natural & Lake Wales Country Club- THANK YOU so much for making this event possible and for hosting us in such great fashion at a wonderful location! I can’t even begin to find the right words to capture how much fun I had.
To Christina- what a fun week we had! So grateful for your friendship and the fun memories we are making as rookies & travel buddies this year! You are such a great friend and I know you are there for me no matter how golf is going! It is so nice to have a friend as awesome as you on the road in unchartered waters.
And most importantly- a huge thank you to my family and friends. I already mentioned how grateful I am to my Dad for showing up to caddy, and he knows how much I appreciate his support every single day. But also to those on the home front- Mom, Jack, Clare, my grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins & friends- Thank YOU so much for all of the prayers, texts, & calls in the past week. And to so many of my other “angels”, you know who you are and I owe you all big time. Many of you who supported me during this last week in particular, in addition to those already mentioned, include Len, Kate, Doug, Steve, Mr. P, Lou, Dave, Dr. A., Mr. O, and Mr. S. While I am out there sometimes seemingly alone, it is so comforting to know that I have such a large support system at home and all over the country. This will always be way more important than any golf score. I can’t thank you enough. Love you all!!!
So to match the world’s longest day on Friday, I think I have also written the world’s longest post! March Madness! But I wanted to make sure I expressed my gratitude to everyone who was with me (physically or in spirit) this past week or so & to show how much FUN I am having chasing my dream! 1 day at a time, 1 shot at a time!!!!!
XOXO, Emily Jane
With my host mom & new friends in Lake Wales!
Best surprise ever! Best Dad in the world.
Working the Junior Clinic at the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill.