Collins Bradshaw, a former golfer for the University of Georgia’s women’s team, had an unusual ascension to the peak of her golfing game. In fact, she hated golf at first.
“My brother ended up picking up golf and at first I hated it, I absolutely hated it,” Bradshaw said. “I hated going out there, I hated playing because no girls were out there and I was always alone.”
However, things changed for Bradshaw when she met former Green Bay Packers receiver Sterling Sharpe.
“I was on the range one day and Sterling Sharpe…came up and we just went out to play nine,” Bradshaw said. “He just basically told me that I could go as far as I wanted in the sport and that’s what really captured me, kind of brought me closer… It just kind of clicked for me.”
Once it “clicked,” Bradshaw began entering juniors tournaments. After her first tournament didn’t go very well, she ended up winning four of the six tournaments she played in at age 10.
She began her high school career in seventh grade and began competing at the national level including the US Junior, which Bradshaw said is “like the US Open for juniors.” Bradshaw’s gritty performance at that event, at which she came back during match play down three holes with four to go to force a playoff, was a part of what attracted college coaches to her.
“She beats me and I remember being so upset, but I remember my dad points it out to me the tenacity that I had out there,” Bradshaw said. “I’m not very big, I don’t hit the ball very far, but my accuracy off the tee and my tenacity is what attracted certain college coaches.”
Bradshaw ended up committing to Georgia to play under coach Kelley Hester. However, with many rises comes a fall, and Bradshaw’s came following her freshman season.
“[Hester] ended up getting let go after my freshman year which was really tough on me,” Bradshaw said. “We got a new coach from Southern Cal [Josh Brewer]… A lot of ups and downs, emotionally and just very tired and it started to take my love for the game away.”
On June 24, Brewer called Bradshaw to inform her she was no longer on the team just six days before the July 1 cutoff for transfers.
“I think that a lot of [the girls] were devastated thinking I quit, and I’m not a quitter,” Bradshaw said. “It’s just been really difficult to have to sit there and smile and deep down know that I was forced out of a situation.”
Even if she never plays competitively again or reaches her dream of being on the LPGA Tour, Bradshaw says there are certain life lessons she’s taken from golf that have made the journey worth it.
“Had it not been for golf, I don’t think I would have had as much tenacity, as much…clutch,” Bradshaw said. “I like to think of golfers when your back’s against the wall, you can do one of two things: you can sit down and give in or you can fight through it and know that there’s a chance that you’re probably not going to win.”