First Person with … Emmy Martin

The record-setting golfer talks about her nickname and celebrity encounters, including one with the current president of the U.S.

First Person with … Emmy Martin

The record-setting golfer talks about her nickname and celebrity encounters, including one with the current president of the U.S.

Ending last season as TCU’s top finisher in seven events, the Florida native made her second appearance in the U.S. Women’s Amateur Golf Championship. She said she tries not to dwell on statistics but focuses more on what she needs to get done in the moment.

Emmy Martin has made two appearances in the U.S. Women's Amateur Golf Championship. Photo by Sharon Ellman.

Emmy Martin has made two appearances in the U.S. Women’s Amateur Golf Championship. Photo by Sharon Ellman.

Women’s golf Coach Angie Ravaioli-Larkin is the second-most tenured head coach at TCU. What is it like to be led by someone with so much experience?
She’s awesome, just the way she runs her program here. She cares so much about each one of us, more than just golf. She really cares about us as people. She has made the program about so much more than golf.

Do you think you could be a coach?
I think I could be a coach but not necessarily a swing instructor. I think it would be fun to coach.

What’s your favorite golf course?
Last year we played in Napa, California, at a course called Silverado. I really liked that golf course. I had never been there.

Have you ever played with a famous golfer?
I haven’t played with any big-name people. Someday. I did meet [baseball hall-of-famer] Reggie Jackson, Mr. October. I beat him at a putting contest. I didn’t get to play an actual round with him, but he was out at TPC, which is one of the courses in Tampa I practice at. … My dad was shocked and thought it was really cool to talk to him. Then I got to have a putting contest with him, got his autograph and some golf balls that say “Mr. October.” My dad loves him.

Have you ever golfed at Mar-a-Lago?

No, I haven’t. I was playing at [Trump National] Doral in Miami and that’s [Donald Trump’s] course, too. This was several years back. I remember he flew in a helicopter, and they’re like, “Oh, yeah, Donald Trump is landing right here, on the golf course.” I don’t know what he was doing there. I didn’t see him play. I was there playing in a tournament.

Last season you broke a school record with a 72.9 season stroke average. What did that feel like?
It was really cool to see that at the end of the year. It was not something I was focused on all year. It was just something that was a result of my hard work. I had worked really hard all year, especially the summer going into last season. I just stayed in my process.

What’s your nickname?
It’s Hollywood. My coach, one of her traditions that she’s been doing ever since she started coaching, she gives everyone a nickname their freshman year. It sticks your entire life. I wear sunglasses a lot on the golf course. And just my style, I guess. It’s on our golf bags. Hollywood is in her phone as my name. It’s a big deal to her. I got a pretty good nickname, I’d say. It could have been worse. Coach told me, “I think I have it.” She always says that for a while. One day she said, “OK, we’re going to be in two groups for putting. Casum, Mickey and Hollywood.” I was like, “Oh my gosh!” She explained it. And then I have this dress I wore my freshman year, a golf dress, and it became my “Hollywood” dress.

What’s been your favorite nickname that you’ve heard so far?

The stories behind them are really funny. Kelly [McGovern ’17] is Popeye. I thought that one was really funny. I was actually there when she was caught in the mirror looking at her muscles in her first year. It was at our first tournament and she didn’t think anyone was looking. It’s a fun tradition. Brooke [McDougald] is Quick Draw. My coach will call her QD. It’s because she is quick to jump the gun on everything. My emoji is the clapperboard. Yeji [Shin] is Snickers. Greta [Bruner] is Simba. Grace [Do] is Scooby-Doo. She loves dogs.

Why TCU?

They saw me play at a tournament in Florida. I ended up winning the tournament. They invited me to visit. I came and I loved it. I just fell in love with it. The coaches are awesome. I really love the coach.

What does it feel like to have a school invest in you?

It has always been my dream to play college athletics. It’s a dream come true. When I came here, it was everything I wanted in a school.

Why golf?

I grew up kind of doing everything. I was really into gymnastics. I was doing competitive gymnastics. When I was 12, I kind of got too tall for that and I didn’t see a future in that because you have to be so tiny. My dad loves golf and he played baseball in college. So he kind of got me into golf. I tried it and I’ve been playing ever since.

Does athleticism run in the family?

Both of my brothers play college baseball and one of them plays independent ball. My dad played college baseball. They all play golf on the side too. I’m the only one who took it up.

What is it like to come from a family full of athletes?

I haven’t really known anything different. My brothers and I are all really competitive. But we’re always cheering each other on. My mom doesn’t really play sports.

You’re from Florida. What was the biggest adjustment you had to make living in Texas?

I didn’t really know anyone here, so that was a big adjustment. When I was younger, we lived in Allen, Texas. I was born in Florida and we moved here for just a short time. I was little, but I still remember. I think that’s why my parents were fine with me coming here. They love Texas. I guess just meeting new people and being on my own so far away from home. But we’re so busy … there’s not really any time to be homesick.

Did you have to adjust the way you play golf in Texas?

I would say you get a lot more roll here. Texas roll. But that’s a good thing.

What advice would you give recreational golfers?

I think it’s something you can play your entire life, which is really cool. It’s kind of interesting seeing it from that perspective. I play golf competitively. When you try to go play for fun, with people who don’t play it as their sport, it’s different. I’m competitive. It’s different playing for fun versus competing. I feel like I don’t even play for fun that much. I just play a lot of tournaments. It’s two different types of things. I mean, I’ll take friends to the driving range and it’s fun and stuff, but it’s just different when it’s outside of the competition.

What’s your best method of clearing your head before you play?

I kind of keep to myself when I play golf. I’m kind of in my own zone. Especially right before I’m about to hit.

Do you have a ritual before you tee off?

I do, but I don’t really know how to describe it. I do this thing with my hand. I go like this [presses her left hand against her left hip]. It’s kind of like my trigger before I swing. I have a ritual but not before I swing. If I play well with a ball marker, I’ll use the same one for a while. Like last year, I used the same ball marker like the whole year.

Who on your team likes cows? Do you have any cool club covers like her?

Brooke [McDougald] loves cows. I don’t have any fun ones like she does. I don’t have any animals. My favorite color is pink. I have a head cover that has jewels on it – pink and purple with jewels. But no cows.

How do you choose between a hat and a visor?

Well, I love visors. I am a visor girl. You can get highlights [in your hair] from the sun. The hat hair is not nearly as bad as when you wear a hat.

I know our head football coach likes visors.

He’s trying to get highlights. It really works.

You have a lot of school spirit. What has been your favorite athletic event so far?

Definitely the football games. We kind of started that tradition of “painting up” for the football games my freshman year. It’s funny because in high school, I would have never done that. But Alex [Sborov] and Kortnie [Maxoutopoulis ’15] who were my teammates the past few years and graduated, they got me to do it and it’s so fun. We do that sometimes.

Golf and football are in season at the same time. How are you able to go to the games?

It’s just when we play at home. We happened to be at home this past weekend [for the TCU-SMU game], so we were able to paint up. We’ll miss a couple of them. It’s just kind of hit-or-miss. Some seasons we’ll be home for more games than others. We’re busy now, but especially in the spring, it’s hard [to go to other events].

What was it like to compete in the U.S. Women’s Amateur Golf Championship?

It’s such a fun event. It’s one of the most prestigious amateur events there is. I played in it two years ago, so I kind of knew what to expect. It was super exciting. It’s all the top players in the country. They treat you so well there. I played with [Sophia Schubert, the championship winner] last year at the Big 12 [tournament].

What are your goals for this season?

I just want to play my best golf. I want to beat my record from last year. I try to not really get into statistics. I don’t like to look at stats during the season. More just focusing on what I need to do in the moment.

What will you miss the most about TCU when you graduate?

Playing golf for a team. Obviously you can play it for your whole life, but you can’t play it on a team forever. Just playing for TCU – there’s no place I’d rather be.

What is it like to have such a small team?

There’s seven of us. We’re all really close. We can do a lot more as a team because there are so few of us. Unlike football … I don’t even know how they all know each other. We’re able to be pretty close-knit.

What are your plans for the future?

I would like to pursue golf professionally and give that a shot. There’s different ways of doing it. You go to Q-school … it’s basically just qualifying for different stages. That’s what’s cool about golf – you don’t have to be drafted by someone. You shoot the numbers you’re in.

— Trisha Spence
Editor’s note: The questions and answers have been edited for length and clarity.