Having the drive to beat the competition one stroke at a time
The never-ending thrum of players hitting golf balls fades into a drone as junior Tiffany Le focuses on her own ball. She does two practice swings, moving back to check her line before going for the final swing, sending the ball flying until it becomes a speck in the distance. After years of playing golf, this has become second nature to her.
In 2019, Le was recognized by the San Gabriel Valley as the Girls’ Golfer of the Year. By enduring multiple-day tournaments and maintaining a focused mindset, she was able to show her hard work through her victories.
“I was surprised and grateful overall to be recognized for all my hard work this season,” Le said. “It shows that if I set my mind to something and keep at it and practice even when times are tough, it will all be worth it in the end.”
Le first began playing golf at the age of eight, when her dad would take her and her sister to hit balls at the driving range. Since piquing her interest at an early age, golf has become a major part of Le’s life.
“Some of my favorite memories of playing golf are meeting other players from different states or cities when I go play at tournaments,” Le said. “Some people I’ve met through playing golf are some of my closest friends now.”
Le has learned various lessons through golf that apply beyond the sport. For example, she strikes a balance between school and golf by utilizing tutorial time for homework. In addition, she’s become more resilient and patient by going through days when she has a slower partner or her playing is going as expected.
“Patience comes into play when my round isn’t going as I hoped, or my swing isn’t consistent or my putts aren’t falling. I just have to be patient as I’m playing and hope it will get better,” Le said. “I also developed a strong mentality on and off the golf course. I learned how to stay positive when times get rough at school or the golf course or even at home.“
Other than dedicating lots of time to practice, Le has a routine to ensure she maintains a healthy condition for tournaments. Usually, tee time, the time when a course is reserved for a player, begins around 7 a.m. Le spends an hour practicing before her competition time in order to warm up, which means she has to get a good night’s rest beforehand and eat a good breakfast in the morning. This allows her to play with a stronger mindset.
“A struggle most golfers have when they first start playing competitively is being consistent and having a strong mental game,” Le said. “When golfers mess up on a hole, they tend to get upset, and it can affect [their] entire round. I strengthened my mentality by playing positively and focusing on beating the course and not the people I’m playing with.”
A few of Le’s achievements include placing third at the California Interscholastic Federation state championships, placing second individually at Nacional Guatemala 2019 at San Isidro and placing first at a United States Golf Association qualifier tournament.
“I was happy that I went all the way to the end to represent my team [at state],” Le said. “Getting that recognition makes me feel proud that all my hours of practice and sacrifice paid off.”
Despite her successes, Le maintains a humble mentality and continues to strive for improvement, looking to constantly maintain her position in the high ranks.
“I feel proud of myself, but at the same time, I can’t get comfortable from my wins,” Le said. “I have to keep practicing to get better because I want to be consistently at the top — not just have a couple wins then get too comfortable.”
Golf will continue to be a significant part of Le’s future, as she hopes to pursue it after high school and even as a career after she graduates from college.
“The drive and passion I show toward golf I [also] try to put it toward other activities,” Le said. “It’s taught me that if I really love this game and want to pursue it in the future, I have to sacrifice the little things like hanging with friends or homework time once I get to college.”
Le has been able to make her accomplishments in golf through the support of her parents, who take her to practices and pay for travel fees and tournaments outside of the state.
“If I do get the opportunity to become a professional golfer, I will be able to provide and help my family when they get older,” Le said. “I want to give back to my parents since they have sacrificed so much for me to pursue golf.”
By Natalie Cheng, Staff writer
Photo courtesy of Tiffany Le