Early this summer, I had the opportunity to meet Savannah for the first time at a Women's All Pro Tour event in my hometown, Wichita Falls. Along with so many others, I've followed Savannah on social media and watched her golf career for a few years.
She won the Texas Women's Open this summer and she is gearing up for Q School. With her effortless swing, she makes golf look easy. We've all seen her incredible swing on Instagram but her golf game is even more impressive in person! One of the things that impressed me most, she's one of the sweetest people you will meet. Here's a little more about Savannah...
Tell us about your golf story.
"My golf story starts at about 8 years old when I took my first golf lesson. My younger brother and I had always played sports and golf was just one of them that we tried. We both played little league baseball so the hand eye coordination was there early, which I think made golf more fun for us both. I continued to take lessons, and then got serious about golf in high school. Early on I knew I wanted to play professionally. When I was little it didn’t matter what I was interested in, I wanted to “go pro” in whatever my current interest was. Whether it was volleyball, tennis, becoming a “professional artist”, or being the first girl to play in the MLB; I always set my sights high. My parents were the absolute best and encouraged it all. Golf seemed to be the thing I took too best, and I decided to pursue it. I played for UC Riverside for 4 years, and after my senior season I knew I wanted to make it my career. The coach I had my last year, Mary Ritchie, gave me the final push to turn pro and painted a very clear picture of what that would look like. She helped me create a plan of attack for my practice, funding/budgeting, approaching sponsors, and tournament schedule. It led to a successful first season, and I knew golf was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life."
Where are you in your professional career? What do you need to take it to the next level?
"At this point in my professional career I am gaining very good momentum in my pursuit of the LPGA. I have Symetra status, which has allowed me to play in a handful of events so far this year, and I look forward to finishing the season out on this tour. I also look forward to competing in Q school in just over two weeks now. My goal and plan is to make it to Q series and secure my LPGA card that way, or at the very least my full Symetra status. Q school is what I need to get to the next level of having a consistent and competitive tour to play on (ideally the LPGA), and I have put a lot of energy into creating a plan to make that happen."
What has helped you most improve your golf game?
"What has helped me most improve in my game this season is my mental strategy, including course management, emotional management, and learning how to better listen to my body while on the road. I’ve struggled in the past with not knowing when to take a week off from tournament play. I used to think that taking a week off meant taking a step backwards, but I now I know it’s in fact the opposite. For me, 4 tournaments in a row seems to be the maximum time I can spend on the road without my overall energy, focus, and physical game being compromised."
What is the golf best advice you have ever received?
"I’m not sure what the best golf advice I’ve received is, but I do know that my favorite idea I’ve come across is “It’s that simple.” There’s a movie with Miles Teller called “Bleed for This” that tells the story of a boxer who can back from a broken neck. At the end he gives an interview explaining his success and he gets asked the question “What the biggest lie you’ve been told?” He responds by saying, “It’s not that simple.” The lie is that everyone thinks accomplishing “X” goal requires something massively complicated, and sometimes it does; but the fact remains that if you want something it’s a simple as taking the steps to get it done. Simple doesn’t mean quick, but it does mean unwavering commitment to task. If I want to make it to the LPGA, I need to put in the hours, have the discipline to workout and take care of my body, rest, plan effectively and efficiently. I have the talent, so I can choose to do those things or not. It’s actually that simple."
Of all the sports, why golf?
"I chose golf because I love the individuality and autonomy of it. I played team sports all throughout my childhood and I learned that I hate losing because of a teammate who doesn’t want to be there. I like to know that my own efforts will put me in a position to win without having to worry that someone else can (even unintentionally) compromise my hard work with their lack of effort towards a similar goal."
If you could only play one course the rest of your life, which would it be and why?
"If I could play one course the rest of my life it would probably be a toss up amongst, Pine Valley, Tradition in La Quinta, Ca, and La Reserva in Sotogrande, Spain. Each are absolutely stunning, impressive, challenging, fun, and require you to rise to the occasion. Not one bad view on any of those courses!"
Do you have any ideas to get more young people (or girls) into golf?
"In my early experience as a little kid just starting out in golf, and now as an adult able to see my influence on younger generations, I know how impactful it is to simply include those who look up to in what you’re doing. Whether it’s golf, other sports, music, cooking, dancing, or design, the act of creating something is contagious. What do little kids do, they copy! I remember one of my neighbors growing up had an older cousin who I wanted to be exactly like. She was fun, beautiful, kind, and smart, and always took the time to talk to me. She was in nursing school, and I remember she studied a lot. It made me feel important to hear her talk about what she was learning. My best idea for getting young kids/girls into golf is to simply get them into golf. Put a club in their hands and tell them, “Golf is what we’re doing today.” If they like you, they’ll probably like golf, too haha"
Who's in your dream foursome?
"My dream foursome would include Brooks Koepka, Jesus, and Dave Chappell. Brooks because he’s just a beast and seems like he’d be willing to shotgun beers with me. Jesus (assuming he has a great swing in this case) because I want to see how he’d manage a golf course and respond to bad golf shots. Dave Chappell because he’s brilliant, absolutely hilarious, and observant, and I’d love to hear what his personal strategy for life is."
Follow Savannah's golf career on Instagram @savannahvilaubi