Julia Potter-Bobb thought taking a pushcart, versus going it on foot, would be a game-time decision on the first day of the Golfweek Purdue Amateur. A 36-hole day at Purdue’s Ackerman-Allen Golf Course was about testing limits for this former collegian, now 32.
“Could I still do what I was doing at 22-23?”
It’s not as if Potter-Bobb doesn’t compete against this level of player at this intensity anymore. She frequents USGA championships (owns two U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur titles, in fact) and those always include a double-round day. It’s the idea of facing it at the outset, and all the good and bad that comes with that, that makes a 36-hole college day different.
“Just the mental fortitude you would need, whether you got off to a good start and then had to go back out and play a second 18 with bar set high or you got off to a bad start and knew you had to come back and play that same hole again,” she said.
Leaderboard: Golfweek Purdue Amateur
Potter-Bobb birdied her second hole at Ackerman-Allen on Saturday morning. She went on to an opening 75 and followed it with 71 to land inside the top 10 after the first day of the event. Louisville fifth-year senior Lauren Hartlage led after rounds of 68-67.
Potter-Bobb likes to say that if her 32-year-old self played her 22-year-old self (who was a standout at the University of Missouri), 32 would win almost every time.
“I think what I’ve learned, and this is maybe the difference between being in college and being out of college and having a career established, is it really is just a game and there is always a next round,” she said.
She can get past the stings, the mistakes and the losses. Rather than living and dying by her last round, she lives and dies by the next one. It can be freeing on the golf course.
Potter-Bobb is the only player in either field at the Golfweek Purdue Amateur who isn’t a current collegian. She works as the director of member services in the Indiana Golf Office. There are some ways in which working in the golf industry makes it easier for her to tee it up in competition, but in other ways, it’s harder.
— Lance Ringler (@GolfweekRingler) October 10, 2020
The summer competitive season is a busy time of year, making it harder to slip away. Potter-Bobb thinks her schedule was maybe more open in 2020, because of the pandemic, than it has been in years past. She was able to play last week’s inaugural Amateur Golf Alliance Women’s Amateur in Florida, a new tournament created just for mid-amateurs that was pushed back from May, and finished runner-up to Lauren Greenlief. Two days before the Golfweek Purdue Amateur, she played a U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball qualifier with partner Kelsey Chugg, another former Women’s Mid-Am champ. The two qualified.
Many tournament opportunities are controlled by a player’s WAGR ranking, and it can be hard – with a full-time job – to play a number of events that keeps a player like Potter-Bobb in the conversation for elite opportunities like the Curtis Cup and the Augusta National Women’s Amateur.
“If I want to have these opportunities to play in certain tournaments, I have to keep in mind my number and take advantage when I can,” she said.
In that sense, the Purdue event presented the perfect opportunity.
“I’ve kind of been stating the last few years that I wish I had more events in October and November that I could play in,” she said. “I wish I had more WAGR events that are near me. I wish we had more weekend events I could play so I don’t have to take time away from my work. Lo and behold, this event hits all three that I’ve complained about. At some point, I have to put my money where my mouth is.”
She’s putting her game there, too. No surprise here: It’s holding up just fine.
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