Teen golfer shares what the sport means to her and how it’s helping her tee up success.

We met Julia Chaffin a couple of months ago, after her mom tipped us off to Julia’s incredible ingenuity and generosity. This Minnesota teen and future engineer started selling “smart mirror” building kits. And instead of turning a profit, she decided to donate the proceeds from her sales to Play Like a Girl. Amazing, huh? When we interviewed Julia about her interest in engineering and why she chose to support our cause, we learned something else about her—she’s an avid golfer and a member of her high school golf team. 

We’re all about golf–and all sports for that matter. Right now, our staff and volunteers are putting the finishing touches on the first-ever Play Like a Girl On the Green charity golf scramble (it’s June 14—join us!) so we thought we’d check in with Julia again to get the scoop on this swinging sport, why she loves it and why she thinks you should, too.

Ideal for families

Ever since she can remember, Julia spent Friday nights playing golf with her parents and older brother. Growing up near a golf course meant riding along in the cart or participating in family putting contests. 

As she grew older, Julia learned more and more about the game and was soon playing a full 18 holes. “I spent many years trying to keep up,” she says. “As most siblings do, my older brother and I could find a competition in anything and golf was no exception. Being three years younger, I learned to lose over and over again. But every once in a while, his bad round would line up with my good round and I would win.”

Julia credits her losses for teaching her the importance of using failure to fuel future success, a principle we teach at Play Like a Girl. “Now I can proudly say that I can give my brother a run for his money any day on the golf course,” she says.

Game of strategy

When we first met Julia, she made an interesting observation about her experience playing both golf and soccer. These two very different sports offer very different growth and learning opportunities, both athletically and mentally. 

“In soccer, the game is fast and requires me to develop a feeling for the space and anticipate where my teammates are and make split-second decisions based upon the trajectory of the ball, my position on the field, and the spacing of my teammates,” she explains. “By contrast, golf is like a puzzle and I must rely upon my own skill to solve it.”

Unlike most sports, Julia says golf gives her a lot of time to think—about every shot, about what club to use, about whether she wants to play it safe or try to hit a hard shot that might not work. All of this—not to mention the variety of courses and obstacles like sand traps and water—add up to golf being a much more strategic game. 

“Golf requires more mental endurance and focus because I can hit as many balls as possible, but if I don’t have the confidence when I go to hit a shot, it will not be what I want,” she says.

A mental maze

Golfers know all about good days and bad ones. “On the good days, I am on and it feels amazing,” she says. “Of course, these days are the ones that motivate me to keep playing. But there are bad days, too. And those are hard.”

Every athlete experiences bad days, but Julia’s team is a constant source of encouragement in sports like soccer. “In golf, it is just me,” she says. “Golf has helped me to practice putting the bad test or the bad shot in the past and keep looking forward. It’s not easy, but it’s critical.” 

The 2017 Always Confidence & Puberty Survey reveals that 50% of girls feel paralyzed by the fear of failure during puberty. This fear is so intense that many girls opt out of important growth opportunities like taking on challenges and trying new things. But the truth is, failing is a good thing! It helps us learn, grow and ultimately build confidence.

Julia admits, “The hardest part of golf for me is recovering after a bad shot,” but she gets the importance of trying again. “I constantly remind myself that I am only as good as my next shot, not my last one.”

A sport for every girl

At Play Like a Girl, we know that playing sport offers lifelong benefits for girls—and that applies to golf, too. It’s a fun way to stay active and develop important life skills like patience and resilience. These are just some of the reasons that make golf one of the most popular sports for girls. 

Julia has also found golf to be a great way to meet people. “I met one of my best friends playing together and, ultimately, joining her golf team,” she says. “There is nothing more fun than grabbing three of your friends and playing a round of golf while enjoying each other’s company in the great outdoors.”

Ready to try golf? At Play Like a Girl, we’re serious about getting girls involved in sports in fun and meaningful ways. Learn Golf 101 basics on June 10 at a virtual workshop for girls and women, then join us on the practice range for our Junior Girls Clinic on June 14. Both golf events are designed for girls with little to no experience playing the sport. Don’t delay—sign up today!