Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, tournament host and LPGA Professional Stacy Lewis was unable to attend the KPMG Stacy Lewis Junior All-Star Invitational. In the past, one of the staples of the event has been the Question & Answer session with Lewis. In hopes to keep that tradition alive, juniors submitted questions for Lewis to answer from home.
Q: Was there ever a time in your golf career when you thought it wasn’t going to work out and you almost gave up?
A: For me, my initial thought is no. I always believed in the process. I believed that you have to go out there and try to get better every day, that’s always been my goal. Yes, you create long-term goals and there’s things you want to accomplish but I think you have to just go out there and try to get better every day, and see what happens. Everybody plays their best golf at different ages.
Q: How do you stay so positive throughout your successful journey?
A: If you only knew what was going on in my head and behind the scenes. It’s not always positive, let’s just say that. It’s a game that you lose a whole lot more than you win. It knocks you down, but every time, I’ve found a way to get back up on my feet. If you’ve had a bunch of second-place finishes there for awhile, you just have to find a way to bounce through it. I'm upset for a night or so, but then you go out there the next day and you try to get better. That’s kind of been my motto throughout my whole career.
Q: What was your most memorable junior golf moment?
A: Let’s just say, I wasn’t the best junior golfer so there probably weren’t a whole lot of highlights. Honestly, for me, I think I had a top-five finish at an AJGA event that got me into some other tournaments, so I was pretty excited about that. I made it to the junior girls, I believe it was in Kansas City. I had tried and tried and tried, and it was probably one of the last ones I was actually eligible for, so just making it to that tournament was a success for me. I didn’t make the cut, I was a little bit in over my head, but again I wasn’t the best junior golfer, I wasn’t the best golfer on my high school team. I think it worked out to my advantage in the end.
Q: What motivates you when things are not going so well?
A: I just think it’s the process. It’s the process of becoming a better golfer, it’s the process of getting better. I’ve always focused on that. There’s rounds where it seems really hard and there’s rounds where it seems really easy. Often times we forget about those really good rounds and we seem to remember those really bad ones. One I would try, when you have those really good rounds, is to write down what was so good about it, how you felt, what went right. We forget about those rounds so quick and we keep the bad stuff in our head longer than the good. Write down the good rounds and I think that will help you through those times when things aren’t going so well.
Q: How do you handle pressure situations during tournaments?
A: Everyone’s different. I’ve got some things I try. When I get under pressure, I start to walk faster, I start to think faster, I start to talk faster, I do everything faster. For me, I’m trying to slow myself down. I’m trying to slow down the way I breathe, I’m trying to slow down my walk, the way I walk into the ball. I need to slow down. That’s kind of one thing that helps me. When you’re over a shot, especially when you’re over a putt, I think that’s the hardest thing to do under pressure, making a putt, I like to kind of talk myself through it. I say “I’m going to put my right foot in, I’m going to put my left foot in, my right hand on the putter, my left hand on the putter. I’m going to look at the ball, look at the hole, look back at the ball.” And before you know it, that ball is long gone and it’s probably in the hole. It’s just amazing when you talk yourself through it, you just kind of let things happen, you let the putt happen without thinking your way through the putt. Maybe try that when you’ve got to make that important putt.
Q: What do you do to prepare for a tournament during a practice round?
A: I love this question, it’s probably my favorite question of all these on this list. You see it all the time, people just going through the motions of a practice round and you don’t get a whole lot out of it. What I like to do first, off the tee, is getting your lines and writing them down in your yardage book. As you go throughout the day, you are making sure those lines are good. The second thing is, I use aim-point. You know where hole locations are going to be so I try to find the straight putts for all my hole locations, write that down in my book. Outside of that, I am chipping and pitching as much as I can all day. I watch other girls on tour and they’re hitting putt after putt after putt from all these random places and to me, how are you going to remember that? What are the odds of you actually having that putt during competition? For me, you’ve got to chip and pitch as much as you can. That’s the real difference from going from different golf courses, different grasses react differently, you’re playing under different conditions. That’s what I would encourage you to do, and it’s going to help your chipping and pitching get better just because you’re going to be practicing it so much.
Q: If you were to turn the clock back, what would you do differently, if anything, from ages 14-18?
A: I really believe in the journey. I believe everything happens for a reason. There’s really not a whole lot I would do differently. I think I definitely didn’t play my best golf from 14 to 18, which is okay. Everybody plays their best golf at different times. There’s really not anything I would change. I think you really have to go through this process, you’re going to lose, you’re going to fail, you’re going to screw up, you’re going to do something stupid on the golf course, but if we can continue to learn from it, we’re getting better every day.
Q: When did you decide that you wanted to go pro?
A: I had no intentions of playing professional golf, honestly, until I got to college and started to get better. My goals, all along through junior golf, were to get a scholarship and play at a university and be a part of a team, make their traveling five, that was kind of the whole goal for me growing up. Then I got to school and got a lot better, and then in my junior year I won the National Championship and the first question I was asked was “Are you turning pro?” and I didn’t even know what that meant, what I needed to do to do that. So I said, "No." I wanted to go back to school, I wanted to enjoy my senior year and continue to get better. It really wasn’t even until my junior year of college that that bug was even planted that this was going to be the next step once I was done with college. I’m thankful for that because I was able to focus on the present and focus on what I was trying to do in college and trying to get better. It really allowed me to focus on that.
Q: What is it like to play professional golf?
A: Professional golf is hard. It is a job. When you’re inside the ropes, once they announce your name, it’s golf. Golf is the same. It’s the same golf you guys are playing right now. What’s different is when that putt is holed on 18. There’s people pulling you different directions, there’s different demands on your time. There’s sponsors of your own, there’s tournament sponsors, there’s fans, there’s all kinds of people that are going to be pulling you in multiple directions and you have to learn how to balance that, you have to learn that. What I’ve always done is, my practice time is first. If I have time to do all those other things, I do them, but for me practice time is always number one. You’re paying people. It’s hard to do it without having sponsors because otherwise you’re living and dying by every putt and every shot you hit, and that’s a pretty hard place to be. I would encourage you all, if you want to play professional golf, be prepared, have all your ducks in a row, have a good support system around you. I think that’s what’s helped me the most is that I have five, six people around me, that includes my parents, that if I do well, I have somebody to celebrate with. If I don’t do well, they’re going to tell me. If I say something wrong in an interview and it’s not so good, they’re going to tell me that and be honest with me. It’s important to have a good support system. The big difference between college and professional golf is you’re by yourself. All of the sudden you go from these people you get to travel with and room with to now, you’ve got to go do it on your own. There have been plenty of times where I’ve won tournaments and I’ve been sitting by myself in a hotel room on a Sunday night. Everybody else has moved on to the next stop and there’s not even anybody else there to celebrate with. That’s just kind of the realities of it, but I have those off weeks where I get to go home and celebrate with my family and get time with them. That’s the time I really look forward to now.
Q: What is it like to play college golf?
A: I love college golf. I stayed at school for five years, so obviously I loved college golf. I encourage every single one of you to go do it. You learn what it’s like to play for a team, you have these five people plus your coaches, that are encouraging you every day. You get to travel with them, you’re not traveling by yourself. The team aspect of golf, it’s really the only time in your career that you’re going to get that. You get a great education, most of you could probably get your school paid for, or at least part of it. You have an education, you have a fall back if you get a wrist injury and you can’t play anymore. It’s a great thing to have, and also when you turn pro, especially if you major in business like I did, you’ll understand what it takes to run your own little company. You’re going to have to hire people, you’re going to have to fire people, you’re going to have to hire a caddie, you’re going to have to pay him. You’re going to have to do all these things you would have to do if you were running your own little business. What you learn in college can be used in the professional golf world as well. I would encourage you all to do that. It’s a great place to grow up and learn how to play more shots and different courses. You can fail and it’s okay. You go out in the first couple years of your professional golf career and if you struggle, it’s really hard to get out of that. I would encourage everyone to do it, and I loved it obviously, and I would love to see some of you become Razorbacks too.