Junior Whitney Welch is back playing the game she loves. After a rocky start to her collegiate career at Arizona, Welch has found her steadiness. “I kind of rededicated myself to golf and am enjoying it again and I’m playing real well,” Welch said.
Once one of the Top 3 AJGA golfers, Welch showed everyone the magic she possesses in the 2005 Wildcat Invitational where she finished tied for fifth, with by far her collegiate best 54 rounds of golf. ”I couldn’t think of a better place to have my best tournament. I think sometimes when you play a course too much you expect too much out of it. You know where all the places are to not hit it and it’s really hard not to,” Welch said. “I think I worked on being disciplined and didn’t worry about the scores. I felt like I could play good this tournament and why not let it happen. I did and it went really well.”
Getting back into her AJGA shape, Welch took this summer to concentrate on her golf game, working with Kevin Smeltz at an Orlando, Fla., golf academy. “I went to Florida and stayed down there last summer to work with instructors. I had a lot of fun and met a lot of great people. I started to love playing again,” Welch said. The blooming love helped Welch qualify for the United States Women’s Amateur. Welch placed third with a 72 (E) in the sectional qualifier in Phoenix, last June.
Welch started golf at the age of 14. Living on a golf course, the Las Vegas native had no interest in the sport. “I didn’t like golf very much. It wasn’t fast enough, wasn’t aggressive enough. We lived on a golf course and my dad would play, but I played every other sport than golf,” Welch said. “Then at 14, my dad got me to do little local tournament for fun in the summer. I remember I would get so frustrated because I could hit it so far, and swing so hard but I couldn’t hit it straight at all. I’ve always been able to pick up any sport like any decent athlete, but with golf I would get so frustrated. I just wanted to get better. My dad tried to start teaching me and that didn’t work, so he said he would get me a coach.”
That’s when Welch met Blake Shew at a Las Vegas golf academy. “He believed in me from the first time I took a swing. He told me I was going to be amazing, and he had never seen anyone hit a golf ball like that. I didn’t expect anyone to tell me I was any good when I started. He said to give him a year and he’d have me doing good things ?- and it was true,” she said.
A political science major, Welch would like to attend law school, but before that experience she would like a try at the LPGA. “I definitely want to keep playing. I think it’s been really valuable for me to see other people’s mistakes along that road. Last summer, I practiced with a lot of people down that road; I listened to them and what they go through. I think I’m better prepared for the wait. You just never know.”