By Alex Williams
Waking up every morning and going straight to the golf course is her favorite thing to do. Lauren Dunbar has been playing the game of golf ever since she can remember. Ever since the age of 5 to be exact. She is now 23 and pursuing a professional golf career. Lauren Dunbar says it is hard for her to imagine herself not playing the game.
“I’ve been playing for so long now, I feel like it’s all I know”, says Dunbar.
She owes her love of the game to her dad and her grandfather. Dunbar says, “They pretty much gave me a kid’s golf club when I was little and I never seemed to put it down after that.” She practiced all the time and started to take lessons and began to get serious. Dunbar’s dad, Greg Dunbar says, “I was so happy she was pretty good because that meant I had a playing partner all the time.”
Fast forward to her playing golf for her high school, the A.C. Flora Falcons in Columbia. Ultimately the team won the state championship. “That was such an exciting time for me, and winning that gave me so much confidence.” Dunbar was a senior in high school when they won that title and was on her way to play college golf. She was set to spend her next four years at Wofford College where she was going to play for the terriers.
Getting to Wofford was not an easy task. Just ask Dunbar’s mother, Lisa Dunbar. “That was a very long and hard process, with going through all the recruiting,” she says. She explains everything about the recruiting process. It meant going to out-of-town tournaments and sending videos to colleges. But it was all worth it in the end, because Lauren Dunbar played college golf on a hefty scholarship. She was just about 90 minutes away from home, which her mom was happy about.
Dunbar says, “While I was so excited to play golf at Wofford, it was a lot to juggle at first.” Team workouts were held very early in the morning along with weekend trips for away matches. She was able to do it and even joined a sorority her sophomore year.
College flew by. “I was either playing golf, going to class or hanging out with friends, and sometimes it felt like a blur.” Next thing Dunbar knew, she was graduating from Wofford. Dunbar recalls that as a scary time. “I knew I wanted to push the golf thing a little farther, but I kept wondering if I could actually do it.”
After graduation Dunbar moved back home to Columbia so she could play golf and save money. She worked to earn a little money, but she focused on her golf game. She also goes to an instructor in Greenville several times a month for help.
Becoming a professional female golfer is not easy, and takes dedication. There are many steps to be taken to reach the Ladies Professional Golf Association status. Very few people make it to that level right away. Dunbar says, “Right now I am technically in what they call Q-School and I hope to keep moving up.”
The LPGA Tour Qualifying Tournament, or “Q-School”, is the starting point. This is a way for up and coming female golfers to make a name for themselves. It involves multiple stages that provide a way for the players to ultimately make it to the LPGA.
Dunbar was set to go through the first round in fall 2015, and she did not make it. “Obviously I was disappointed I wasn’t able to move on but I knew that I could keep practicing and shoot for next year,” said Dunbar. And that is what she did.
So when fall 2016 came around Dunbar was ready for round one of Q-School. She was able to make it past that first step this time. “That moment right there made it so worth it for me because it solidified what I had been doing for the past few years.” But she wasn’t done; she was on to round two.
Dunbar had another person helping her and in her corner this go around. She had a caddy. It worked out so that a retired family friend could help Dunbar and go on the road with her. Pat Crowley was the one. “I was more than happy to help Lauren out; I am an avid golf guy and wish nothing more than to see this young lady go all the way,” Crowley says.
Unfortunately Dunbar did not make the cut to go on to the next step, but she was able to take something out of it. By making it past the first stage, Dunbar is able to compete on the Symetra Tour. That is essentially a mini tour within the LPGA. That means she can still compete and look to climb the ladder to where she wants to be.
Dunbar has moved out on her own and returned to Spartanburg, where she spent those four years in college. “It felt like the right time to move on out; the golf courses suit me better anyways in Sparkle City,” she says.
Williams is a mass communications senior