Editor’s Note: This is part one of a monthly series where Brynn Walker Collins describes her experience in professional golf. A former University of North Carolina golfer, Walker Collins competes on the Epson Tour, a circuit that offers top finishers access to the LPGA Tour.
I was married just over two months ago. In doing so, I proclaimed to the world that I had found the love of my life. Yes, that is true; but he’s not the only love of my life. My husband, Trevor, knows this, so I’m not offending him by sharing the news.
I fell in love with golf long before I met Trevor.
Golf and I have been together for about 15 years now. Our relationship has had its fair share of ups and downs. I’ve felt every emotion that Taylor Swift writes in her songs. There have been moments where I think we are going to break up. When our relationship is hanging on by a limb, a quick dogleg leads us on a little longer. When everything is going right, it’s addicting — and we grip each other’s hands perfectly. However, when things start to spiral downward, it turns into tough love.
My husband just about has to hide my clubs from me if I’m going to spend a day away from the course. He hears me complain about tough breaks, and he’s there to celebrate when I receive a gift from the golf gods. The love of my life is my husband. Nothing will ever compete with our companionship.
However, the first love of my life is golf. In this short piece, I’m going to share our love story.
Like all great relationships, we started out in the honeymoon phase. I owe it to my brother, Ryan, for introducing us. Ryan suffered too many concussions as a quarterback on the football team, which kicked him out to the golf course. I idolized my older brother and tried to follow his every move. When he picked up a set of clubs, so did I.
Ryan let me tag along for his first range session. For me, it was love at first sight. I was in awe of the addiction to hitting that little white ball as far and straight as I possibly could. I was head over spikes in love and willing to do anything to extend our time together. Ryan and I ran out of balls and money so we would go out onto the range, ducking, dashing and darting back to the hitting bay with a fresh and free bucket of balls. Upon our return, we were met by the driving range owner and told never to come back — it was foolish and fun, this young love.
“I remember the first time I came in second at a junior tournament. Like a heartbroken teenager, I cried the whole way home. My first lesson from loving golf is that loss allows you to grow.” – Brynn Walker Collins
While we were busy scrambling around the public driving range, my dad was sitting on a waitlist for St. Davids Golf Club near our home in the greater Philadelphia area. Despite our new addiction, this membership was not intended to fuel our fondness for the game. Instead, my dad was thinking that, with three daughters, it would ease the pain of hosting all of our weddings. More than 10 years later, all of his daughters are married and not a single one hosted a wedding at the club.
Well, in some ways it’s where I married the game, so we can leave an asterisk on that.
The honeymoon phase lasted for the majority of my youth. It was highlighted by hot summer days with my friends drinking Arnold Palmers and eating hot dogs at the halfway house. Competition came easily to me. Whether it was junior interclub, U.S. Kids or a PGA section junior tournament, I usually won. But I had not yet realized that golf was different from all the other sports I played — you lose far more than you win.
Eventually, I came face to face with failure. I remember the first time I came in second at a junior tournament. Like a heartbroken teenager, I cried the whole way home. My first lesson from loving golf is that loss allows you to grow.
It was around that time that the blindness of the honeymoon phase came to an end, and we started dating. Every day, rain or shine, we took long walks together and spent time getting to know each other in the peace of the practice range. We looked to others for guidance on how to get along better. While dating, we had some pretty great memories together and saw each other mature through the years. We won quite a few junior tournaments: two AJGA events, four state championships, two LPGA Monday qualifiers and 10 USGA junior events.
In my sophomore year of high school, we took our relationship to the next level when I committed to play college golf at the University of North Carolina. I knew this was a big leap and would test the bounds of our love. Many new ingredients were thrown into the mix: new people, places and practices. It was a new type of test. In all the unfamiliarity, I always felt at home in the presence of golf. Another lesson I’ve learned through golf is that home is not a physical place but the company you keep.
My college career was coming to a close when the world was hit with COVID. At the onset of the pandemic, for the very first time, golf and I had to take a break. Golf courses were closed, cups were covered, and good company was hard to keep. In these times I learned another lesson: Out of the darkness, there is light. The world found a way to play the game despite the rapidly spreading disease. When all else was shut down, people eventually flocked to the courses like never before.
This was the moment we got engaged. In the solitude of quarantine, I realized the life this love instilled in me. For months, we had no distractions, goals or tournaments. We spent each day together, freely frolicking from fairway to fairway. Without goals, I got lost in the process. My only desire was to master the game. In doing so, I opened a whole new world and discovered my best play. I decided when the world reopened I wanted to take our relationship to the next level.
In January 2021, I married the game. I turned professional. At that moment, I dedicated my life to the pursuit of golf at the highest level. And as with any marriage, I made sacrifices. I moved to a new state and got rid of the distractions that were toxic to our relationship.
When I look back at my marriage with the game, I’d say it’s been fantastic. We’ve just celebrated our two-year anniversary. But as many wives would admit, it hasn’t been easy. I’ve shown up every day regardless if my heart was broken or full. We’ve seen triumph together. We’ve also tasted defeat. The most wonderful part is that we’re just at the beginning of our life together.
There is much we’d like to accomplish. Next on the horizon is the LPGA.
Over the years, I’ve documented the diary of this dream on my blog. This year, I’ll be sharing it with you in my monthly feature. I promise to be authentic, to share the ups, downs and everything in between.
The task in front of me is not easy. Everyone is out to be their best. There is always so much to fear in this quest. However, through the years, I’ve learned that love casts out fear.
I’ll lean on an undying love to arrive at the next milestone in our relationship.
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