Golfer with a Goal
The life of a professional golfer looks ideal to fans. The pros compete on the world’s most pristine and challenging courses and execute spectacular shots on command. They travel throughout the United States and get to play with the world’s best athletes. The life of a touring pro, however, isn’t just glitz and glamour. Behind every professional is years of training, practice and discipline. However, only a select few, like Oklahoma City’s own Fiamma Felitch, use their athletic gifts to improve the lives of others and serve as ambassadors to a future generation of golfers.
Felitch is an excellent example of how professional athletes can use their success to help others. A former standout at Bishop McGuinness High School, Felitch was a Class 4A State and Regional Champion in 2007 before attending the University of Tulsa. She turned pro after two years of college, playing on the Cactus Tour and Symetra Tour. Felitch joined the LPGA Futures Tour in 2014 following a second-place finish on The Golf Channel’s Big Break Florida contest.
Her professional and amateur accomplishments are only part of Felitch’s passion for the sport. This summer, she is preparing to launch a golf academy for the state’s best female high school athletes and hopes to connect them with the resources they need to take their games to the next level. “No one teaches high school athletes how to contact coaches and get golf scholarships. Many female scholarships are available yet they go unused every year,” Felitch says. “It’s important for them to have some experience going into college golf so that they can chase their dreams of playing professional golf. I’ve gained a great deal of knowledge about the golf industry over the years and I plan on sharing it with young ladies who may want to pursue a college career or even a professional career.”
The academy will be held at Rose Creek Golf Club in Edmond from June 29th to July 3rd. Felitch expects fifteen of Oklahoma’s top high school golfers to participate. “I want it to be small enough that I can spend one-on-one time with each girl to work on their games,” she explains. She hopes that the academy is successful enough to become an annual event.
The academy will be a chance for Felitch to share her passion for the game with the state’s most promising amateurs. She understands how overwhelming the pursuit for a scholarship or sponsorship can be and wants to help others learn from both her mistakes and successes. The academy will give Felitch a break from the non-stop life of a touring professional. Often, athletes get so caught up in the glitzy lifestyle that they forget to give back to those who are still chasing their dreams. Felitch hopes to inspire a new generation of young women and give them the information they need to take their games to the next level.
Felitch was first introduced to the game by her father, Frank. There was one problem: Felitch was naturally left-handed, and most starter club sets are made for right-handers. “He cut down a right-handed golf club and had me chip around in the backyard. Come to find out I had very noticeable natural talent,” Felitch recalls. “I chipped in the backyard until I started hitting it over the neighbors’ fence. They were tired of finding golf balls in their yard so my dad starting taking me to the driving range. I eventually fell in love with the game and bonding with my dad on the golf course.”
Felitch grew up playing at The Greens Golf and Country Club in Oklahoma City, but loves playing at courses throughout the metro. “Most of the courses have been very accommodating to me and I appreciate all of them helping me along the journey.” Her favorite memory from her amateur career was her 2007 state championship, which she won by a commanding 12 strokes.
Felitch’s typical day is hectic. “An average day consists of practice, playing and working out. I’d rather play all day than stay on the driving range and hit balls.” While many amateurs are worn out after 18 holes, that is typically just a part of a pro’s daily routine. “I will practice for a couple hours on the range then go play either nine or 18 holes. After the round I will work on my short game or whatever I am working on at the time. I believe that being in good shape is an important aspect of the game as well. I work out with a trainer twice a week and do cardio on my own.”
While the life of a touring pro may seem like a non-stop golf vacation to fans, it can be very expensive to play on tour. “Our sponsors and endorsement deals are what pay entry fees, hotel rooms, flights and other expenses,” Felitch explains. She recently obtained a sponsorship from Flirtee Golf, which manufactures golf apparel, and hopes to add many more sponsors as her career develops. Felitch says her appearance on Big Break Florida has helped her professionally and convinced her she could compete at the highest level.
Helping young female golfers is important to Felitch because she remembers the uncertainty of being able to pursue golf in college and as a career. By using her considerable athletic skills to assist and inspire younger athletes, she’s improving her community and the game of golf.
Felitch can be found on Twitter and Instagram as @LPGA_Fi. Her golf academy will be held June 29th-July 3rd at Rose Creek Golf Club in Edmond.