By Gideon Rubin
Rancho Santa Fe resident Brooke Seay, 12, practices as hard as anyone in her age group preparing for elite golf competitions.
But when she’s on the course and the pressure’s really on, it’s all about enjoying herself.
“I really try to have fun,” she said. “Sometimes it’s tough when you get caught up in the game but it’s definitely helped me.”
Her approach seems to be working.
Earlier this month Brooke won the girls 12-year-old division at the U.S. Kids Golf World Championship with an even-par 216 total on Pinehurst No. 3. Brooke has won many tournaments, but the Kids Golf World Championship was her second big win on an international stage. In 2010 she won the Callaway Junior World Championship in the 10-year-old division at Lomas Santa Fe Executive Golf Course.
Winning at an elite level isn’t all fun and games though. Brooke attributes her success to hard work and determination. She’s coached by her father, Gordon, with a professional golf coach occasionally chipping in.
“I practice very hard,” she said. “I’m hard on myself and I always try to push myself to be better and I think that helps. Instead of being pushed, I push myself. I really want to be the best golfer I can be.”
But having a good time along the way seems to be an integral part of Brooke’s ability to tap into her potential.
She points to her showing at the Kids Golf World Championship, when she rebounded from a slow start.
She attributes a 3-over-par 75 on the first day, in part, to butterflies, which she overcame as the tournament progressed. She fired a 3-under-par 69 the next day and secured the win with a 72 on the third and final day of the tournament. In Brooke’s division, there were 95 players from 15 countries. Brooke shot the low round of the tournament, and she went 27 consecutive holes without a bogey.
“I was [nervous] and that definitely affected me on the first day,” she said. “I wasn’t playing relaxed. On the second day I felt as if I took myself out of it so I was playing very relaxed, very calm, just trying to have fun. It paid off.”
Brooke’s experience with handling the pressure of elite tournament competition paid off too.
“Knowing that I could win really helped me with my confidence in this tournament,” she said.
The win this year earned her a spot on the United States team at the World Cup match, a team event for the top finishers in the individual tournament. The top six 12-year-old girls from the United States, along with the top eight 12-year-old boys, competed against the International team’s equivalent top players on Pinehurst No. 2, a day later, where Team USA would win the World Cup, 5-3. Brooke and her partner, playing a “best ball” format, shot the day’s lowest score of 66, which was a great score on next year’s U.S. Open & U.S. Women’s Open course.
She returned to San Diego with wins in both the individual and team tournaments, and low scores in both. As memorable as this summer has been for Brooke, one of the highlights of her golfing career didn’t involve actual golfing competition.
Earlier this year she fired the ceremonial first tee shot at the PGA Farmer’s Open golf tournament at Torrey Pines Golf Course.
“I was actually more nervous for that shot than teeing off in any big tournament,” she said.
Fortunately for Brooke, her ability to calm her nerves helped her make the most of the moment.
“I ended up hitting the fairway,” she said. “My driver is one of my strengths so I tried to just hit it like any other shot on the range or any other tournament. It was big relief actually.”
Brooke started playing golf when she was 4. She was first introduced to the sport tagging along with her father when he attended adult weekly clinics.
She said she’s tried to mold her game after another RSF golfer, Phil Mickelson.
“He’s not afraid to do any of the shots he takes,” she said. “He’s always having fun and smiling, even when he hits a bad shot. He’s really fun to watch, I’ve always admired him.”
And it’s not just the golf.
“He’s not only a great golfer but he’s a good person too, and I really respect that,” she said.
Brooke’s stunning resume, however, hasn’t come at the expense of other endeavors.
She plays soccer and tennis, and plays piano and violin.
She’s also involved in an after-school arts program that includes painting, drawing and sculpting.
Brooke believes her artistic pursuits have benefited her golf game.
“It does help me sometimes,” she said. “Sometimes you have to be technical on the range and get your swing right, but on the course you just have to do whatever you can do to get your shot how you want it, where you want it. I think it helps. I like being creative.”
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