During her first Paly golf game as a freshman, senior Lauren Wagner topped the golf ball. Rolling only a couple feet, Wagner’s thoughts were quickly clouded by the thought of her intimidating sophomore teammates and new coach. As she began sweating, she told herself that she was going to have to calm down. In fact, up until Wagner’s sophomore year, she felt nervous in front of the rest of her team.
Wagner introduced herself as the girls golf B squad captain, explaining her job:
“As the B team captain, I mostly make sure that there is communication between the 2 [A team and Bteam] teams with my fellow captain Stephanie [Yu],” Lauren said. “I also try and organize gear, events, and team bonding activities.”
Golf has been a part of Wagner’s life from a young age.
“I started playing golf when I was five and it was when my parents joined Palo Alto Hills, a country club,” Wagner said. “I ended up playing golf with my family a lot and I took lessons until I was about 12.”
Although she stopped playing golf at 12 because she wasn’t enjoying the sport, she fell back in love with the sport the summer before her freshman year when she began to recognize the importance of golf. During that summer, she described her daily golf schedule as very intense.
Wagner’s proudest moment as a golfer was making it onto the Paly golf team. At the time, she had been constantly practicing and picturing herself golfing for her school.
While starting back up again, Wagner played on both the Paly’s girls golf team and her own country club team. Wagner began to recognize the importance of golf, and now as a senior views golf as a business opportunity. Wagner described the benefits of playing high school golf for her future career.
“Golf is one of those things that are really good business tools later in life and knowing how to play can be very beneficial,” Wagner said. “Being able to play golf and hold your own is super important. Also, when you’re choosing business associates, playing golf can really reflect someone’s character.”
According to Wagner, while she does not want to play golf in college, she can see herself playing in a club for fun and with business associates post-college.
According to Wagner, the girls’ golf team is the only sports team this year at Paly to go undefeated this far into their season.
Wagner attributes the girls’ golf team’s success to the high level of the freshmen players and highlighted the importance of teamwork.
“We got a lot of really good freshman who are playing pretty close to scratch golf [a player who can play to a Course Handicap of zero on any and all rated golf courses],” Wagner said. “We’re really working well together as a team, and we’re all super supportive of each other, which makes it super stress-free, and more of a fun environment to improve your game.”
In addition to viewing Wagner’s extracurricular activity as a business tool, she described the reason why she loves golf, viewing golf as a way to de-stress during her stressful first semester as a senior. According to Wagner, while many of the players have their own coaches, Wagner stopped making appointments with her coach during the summer and school year in order to focus more on school.
“Growing up, golf was never something I enjoyed, but now that I’m older, I really see the value in that skill,” Wagner said. “Also, the more hectic my high school career gets, the more calming it is to go out on the course and separate myself from all the stress. I love golf because when everything in my life is chaos, between school and work and extracurriculars, I can go out on the course and forget about everything else, it’s a really great stress reliever.”
Not only does Wagner see golf as a mental de-stresser, Wagner described how her mental head space changes while on the course and the mental strain golf has on players.
“Golf is really a mental game, you don’t need a lot of power or strength to be able to play a good match,” Wagner said. “It really is a mentally taxing sport, probably because of all of the factors that you have to keep in mind when you have to be playing. I think that might be because it’s such a slow game that it causes you to get in your head and psych yourself out, it’s really difficult to work through that.”
She has developed multiple ways to stay focused on the course.
“Being able to calm yourself on the course is key and being able to take a deep breath and stay focused [is important],” Wagner said.
While Wagner serves as a role model to her teammates by suggesting tactics to stay focused on the course, she also has her own golf role models inspire her to keep up the hard work. Wagner described previous players on the team that serve as sources of inspiration and that her previous teammate’s sense of passion still influences Wagner and her teammate’s success to this day.
“Honestly, the older girls on the team,” Wagner said. “When I was a freshman, Michelle Xie, Emily Hwang, and Candace Wang really inspired me. Having friends of yours be able to go out and put a lot of effort into winning CCS [Coast Central Sectionals] or league or go undefeated really inspired our year.”