May 25, 2023

T-Time Podcast // Ep. 42: Doing Golf Differently with Haley Bookholdt

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Today, Tori has a special guest on her show, Haley Bookholdt. Haley, a former golfer from Elon University, shares her inspiring journey in the world of golf, her goals, and the challenges she has overcome. Beyond her athletic accomplishments, Haley has also made strides in entrepreneurship, growing her own brand and securing a partnership with PXG. Additionally, she actively contributes to Back Swing Golf Events, a women-owned business that adds a unique twist to charity golf tournaments across the US. Through this organization, women can earn money playing golf while pursuing their dreams on the LPGA Tour and supporting charitable causes.

Haley Bookholdt, with her impressive achievements, is on a mission to inspire young girls and women to embrace golf through her new media company. As a mentor and role model, she shares her knowledge and experiences openly, including her struggles with anxiety. With the support of her boyfriend, Davis, Haley has reignited her passion for golf and is considering pursuing a Master's Degree in Sports Psychology to help other athletes. Tune in for an insightful and inspiring discussion with Haley Bookholdt on today's episode!

How Haley Started in Golf

Haley started playing golf around the age of nine during the 2008 recession. Her family faced financial difficulties, and she saw golf as a way to secure a college scholarship. She attended Elon University on and off scholarship, but her experience as a female college golfer was challenging. She struggled with mental health and felt isolated within her team. Haley experienced jealousy and a lack of authentic relationships. In her freshman year, she got kicked off the team for playing only nine holes instead of 18 during a practice round. It caused a lot of confusion and tension. Eventually, the athletic department intervened, allowing Haley and the other players to stay on the team but with community service. Despite the rough start, Haley continued to play under the same coach throughout her college career, as the school rarely fired coaches. Looking back, she wishes she had known that she could be a leader from the beginning and take ownership of her experience as a freshman.

Golfing Together: Haley and Davis’s Winning Partnership

Davis played a crucial role in Haley's return to golf. He didn't want her to relinquish her unique skill due to mental hurdles. While they aren't competitive with each other, Davis uses golf to practice mental focus for football. On the other hand, Haley prefers a more casual approach to the game and sometimes films shots or takes breaks to manage any overwhelming feelings. Davis supported her through her anxiety and reassured her that she could play independently. It took time for Haley to reintroduce the idea of casual golf and gradually increase her comfort level. They still play together, and Haley finds it easier to make it through 18 holes. Both have their perspectives on golf, with Haley emphasizing emotional balance and Davis valuing competition. Haley is learning that negative emotional reactions don't necessarily indicate dedication and that being mellow on the course can be beneficial.

What’s Next for Haley in Golf?

Haley sees golf as an integral part of her online brand. She and Davis are starting a golf-related business they're excited about, too. She aims to continue creating golf content and help make the sport less intimidating for the next generation of female golfers. While she may consider participating in a high-level amateur golf competition in the future, she has yet to make plans to go pro. Teaching golf is possible, but she struggles with imposter syndrome and often seeks validation from her dad before offering swing tips. Posting occasional golf tips to simplify the game is something she enjoys.

Golf and the Social Media Journey

In college, Haley experimented with TikTok and gained a significant following by posting golf-related videos. However, she felt uncomfortable with the male-dominated audience and the sexualization of golf content. After taking a break from golf, she started to rethink her approach and decided to focus on creating content for women. This led to the development of her business and sparked various ideas for the future, including potential TV series, a brick-and-mortar business, clothing lines, merch, and more. Haley also discusses her journey in finding stylish and functional golf clothing that suits her athletic preferences, acknowledging the evolving options. She encourages communal sharing of recommendations and advises buying multiples of favorite pieces for consistency and availability.

Breaking Barriers: The Transformation of Golf from Exclusivity to Inclusivity

In terms of inclusivity for women, the golf industry is slowly improving. However, true change will only happen if women are motivated and excited about making golf their own. For decades, golf has been marketed predominantly to men, making it difficult for women to see it as something that could be enjoyable for them. The key is for women to realize they can shape their golf experience and not feel confined to the traditional male-oriented approach. They can gather with their friends, have a few drinks, play a casual nine holes, and feel a sense of belonging on the course. It's about showing up, being confident, and making it clear that women have every right to be there. Starting with women-centered golf experiences may make it easier for women to transition into male-dominated golf environments.

Haley's Tips for Golf Beginners

To beginner golfers, Haley's advice is to embrace and welcome the humility that the game of golf provides. Rather than running away from failure, they should see it as an opportunity for growth. It's important to be excited about the challenges and setbacks, both in improving golf skills and navigating the social aspects of the game. Beginners should approach golf with modesty, ask questions, and be open to learning. They can accelerate their learning process by being willing to put themselves in uncomfortable situations and accepting that they won't be perfect. It's okay to be slow, not highly skilled, and not to know all the rules and etiquette right away. The key is to have a mindset of continuous learning and improvement.

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Haley Bookholdt:

Instagram | College Bio | TikTok


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