Interview with Mallory Blackwelder Trudeau!
Sorry it took me a few more days than anticipated to get this up school got busy. This week's post is a super exciting one! I have an interview with Mallory Blackwelder Trudeau. Mallory grew up around the game of golf, went on to play collegiately, turn pro, play the 2015 season on the LPGA tour, contest on The Big Break (where she ended up meeting her husband!). She is currently working as a player-manager with Fairwhay Management and taking care of her toddler Madeleine. I had the opportunity to meet Mallory at TPC Boston in 2017 during the Deutsche Bank Championship. She was there working with Danny Lee (other posts on my blog about Danny!) and I introduced myself. We have seen each other at other events since then and I always enjoy getting to catch up. Here it is...
NH Golfer Gal: How did you get into golf and who got you into it? Mallory: When I was born, my mom, Myra VanHoose Blackwelder, played on the LPGA Tour, and my dad, Worth, caddied on the LPGA Tour. So I literally grew up around the game and the tour.
NH Golfer Gal: How old were you? Mallory: I pretty much had a club in my hand since I could walk, but I didn’t really get into it until I was a little bit older. I played in my first tournament when I was 11 years old.
NH Golfer Gal: When did you start focusing more and know that you wanted to try to get really good? Mallory: When I started playing in tournaments at 11 years old, I enjoyed it but wasn’t that serious about it. I started improving quickly, and by the time I was 13, I had moved up into the older age division on the junior golf tour that I was playing on so that I could play 18 holes in the tournaments. That summer, I won 6 out of 7 of the tournaments I played in (against the older girls), and realized that I was good, so I started focusing more on my goal of playing in college and getting a college scholarship.
NH Golfer Gal: Did you play a lot as a junior? Competitively? Mallory: I did. In Kentucky, I was lucky that I had several great, local junior tours to play on, so I played a lot of tournaments on those tours across the state, and I played in national (AJGA/FCWT/USGA) events when I got in and when we could afford it.
NH Golfer Gal: Did you play high school? Mallory: I did. I actually started playing on our high school team when I was in 6th grade! (There was no middle school team to play on).
NH Golfer Gal: If so, what was your experience? Mallory: Because I started playing on the high school team at such a young age, it was a bit strange, but everyone was very nice and welcoming to me. My mom coached our high school team for a few years in the beginning, so I’m sure that helped! Overall, high school golf was a great experience, especially when our team made it to the state tournament as a team for the first time in a long time (maybe like 20 years?) when I was a senior.
NH Golfer Gal: Did you have friends that played? Mallory: I did. When I played on the Kentucky junior golf tours, I had several friends from across the state that I would see at tournaments and that made it so much more fun. Honestly, this was a huge part of why I became serious about golf. When I first started, I didn’t have any girl friends that I knew that played. So when I saw that there were other girls (even though they didn’t live near me) it made me want to participate more. Later, when I got into high school, I also had friends that played on the high school team with me.
NH Golfer Gal: What is one of your favorite memories from playing junior/high school golf? Mallory: There are so many! All of the junior tournaments, hanging out with the friends I had made. There was one tournament, in particular, that was so much fun. The Kentucky Junior Amateur. Pretty much everyone stayed at the same hotel, so after golf, we’d all go to the pool, hang out, have pizza, etc. Another great memory is when I won the KHSAA Kentucky State High School Championship. My mom had won State all 4 years of her years of high school (a still-standing KHSAA record) and the title had eluded me until my senior year. That year, I finally won, and won by 10 shots!
NH Golfer Gal: What were some of your other favorite things to do growing up? Mallory: Hang out with friends, read, just normal kid/teenager stuff. I was very involved in my high school’s student government and I was a very dedicated student.
NH Golfer Gal: How did you know you wanted to play college golf? Mallory: In 1998, Jenny Chuasiriporn, an amateur that played for Duke University, got into a playoff with Se Ri Pak at the US Women’s Open. I will never forget that moment. I thought it was AMAZING that an amateur almost won the US Open, and at that moment I decided I wanted to try and play for Duke (it also didn’t hurt that my dad is from NC and is a huge Duke basketball fan - not a popular choice growing up in Kentucky). I stuck inspirational quotes to my mirror, researched the college recruiting process, and dedicated myself to earning a college golf scholarship. I didn’t end up having the opportunity to go to Duke (they were consistently the #1 program in the country at the time) but I achieved my goal of getting a scholarship to the University of Florida.
NH Golfer Gal: Did you know where you wanted to go? Mallory: I sort of answered this above with Duke, but I didn’t end up being recruited by them. I was being recruited by several other schools though, and I had friends that were older that had gone to some of these schools. I took unofficial visits to as many schools as I could to see the campus, experience campus life, etc.
NH Golfer Gal: Did you like playing at University of Florida? Mallory: I absolutely loved playing golf at University of Florida. It was an amazing experience to be an athlete there, and I would have never left had it not been for my mom taking the coaching job at UK.
NH Golfer Gal: What were your reasons for transferring to Kentucky? Mallory: When my mom got hired as the coach at Kentucky, I initially didn’t want to transfer. However, the summer between my sophomore year when I was home with her working on my game, I started playing better than I had since I got to school. She had been my swing coach my whole life, so I ended up making the decision to transfer and be able to play for her. It was a really really difficult decision because I loved Florida so much!
NH Golfer Gal: What was one of your favorite memories playing college golf? Mallory: My freshman year, I was really homesick and sad about being away from home. Our second tournament of the fall season was at UK, and I ended up winning the tournament. It was really special! We also won a few tournaments as a team when I was at Florida, and that was a really fun experience too.
NH Golfer Gal: What did you go to school for? Mallory: Marketing
NH Golfer Gal: What was it like winning the 2007 Women's Western Amatuer? Mallory: That is one of my best memories from golf. My dad was caddying for me, and I played some of the best golf I’ve ever played there. I LOVE match play, and thrive on those high-pressure situations, so I think that was part of why I played so well. That was a big stepping stone in my confidence of wanting to try and play professionally.
NH Golfer Gal: What did you want to do when you got out of college?
If I hadn’t turned pro I would have probably pursued law school.
NH Golfer Gal: How was playing in the Kraft Nabisco Championship? What was it like? Mallory: That was another one of my favorite memories from my golf career. Playing in that tournament as an amateur and making the cut was an unbelievable experience that gave me so much confidence. I played really well the first two days and then sort of faded on the weekend, but it was so much fun. My favorite parts of the week were hitting balls between Annika and Lorena on the range, and playing a practice round with Juli Inkster and Pat Hurst.
NH Golfer Gal: What went into your decision to turn professional? Mallory: It had pretty much been my plan to give it a try since my sophomore year of college when I felt like I really did have what it took. I looked for sponsors to help get me going and went from there.
NH Golfer Gal: How was your experience with Q-School? Mallory: Q-School is tough. It’s such a grind and it is hard because it’s all or nothing that week. Unfortunately, one of the courses that Q-School was always held on didn’t set up very well for me because I didn’t hit it very far. I tried not to let that frustrate me, but I always struggled on that course.
NH Golfer Gal: What was it like traveling all the time to play golf? Mallory: The travel aspect of the Tour is one of the best and worst things. You get to go to amazing places and experience all kinds of things, but you’re also missing other important family stuff at home. It’s a sacrifice for sure. Also, even though you’re in amazing places, you don’t always have time to see anything other than the golf course and the hotel!
NH Golfer Gal: Did you apply for Big Break? Mallory: Yes. They held open auditions at a Symetra Tour event and I auditioned there.
NH Golfer Gal: What went through your head when you found out you had been selected? Mallory: I was so excited! One of my best friends, Sara Brown, had been on the show before me, and I saw how much it helped her career with getting more well-known and getting sponsors. I knew it would be a great opportunity but I had no idea what to expect.
NH Golfer Gal: Did you know what you were getting yourself into? Mallory: No, not really! Sara and a few of my other friends had been on before, but it’s hard to explain what the experience was like. I remember they told me to get as much rest and sleep as possible because the days of filming are SO long. They definitely weren’t kidding about that! It was one of the most grueling two weeks of my career!
NH Golfer Gal: How did you prepare your game for the show? Mallory: I just practiced like normal because on the show you don’t really know what the format is going to be or what the challenges are.
NH Golfer Gal: Did the thought of meeting your future husband on the show ever cross your mind? Mallory: No, not at all! I didn’t know until I got there that our show was men and women, and I definitely wasn’t going on the show to try and meet anyone. I was going there to try and win and further my career (and so was he)! It just so happened that it was meant to be :)
NH Golfer Gal: When did you decide that it was time to step away from competitive golf? Mallory: After playing a full season on the LPGA (17 tournaments) in 2015 and only making one cut, I was really mentally down on myself. It had been a really tough year because Julien and I had gotten married at the end of 2014, and our first year of marriage was spent mostly apart. The time we did get to spend together was when he had a week off of caddying on the PGA Tour and would come to see me, or on my weeks off I’d go on the road to see him. On those weeks that I went to see him, it was hard to find a place to practice and work out, and it was honestly hard to find the motivation too. I got to the point at the end of that season where I felt like I wasn’t enjoying tour life anymore and I was ready to spend more time with my husband and think about starting a family.
NH Golfer Gal: What went into that decision? Mallory: That was definitely one of the hardest decisions of my life. I literally asked Julien if people would still like me if I stopped playing because I felt like my entire identity as a person was wrapped up in “Mallory the golfer.” Looking back now, I realize how crazy that sounds, but in the moment it’s how I really felt. I think that’s an aspect of being a professional athlete that a lot of people don’t discuss, but you sort of mourn the end of your career because it’s been the biggest part of your life for so long. I’m thankful that I did have a husband and family that could help me work through it and realize that there was so much more to life after my golf career!
NH Golfer Gal: You now work for a management company, what does that entail? Mallory: Our company, Fairwhay Management, helps our clients with all aspects of their golf careers. Our goal is to help them be able to focus on their golf career inside the ropes while we assist them with everything else that comes along with being a professional golfer. I also help with the tournaments our clients host on the AJGA and their charity events.
NH Golfer Gal: What is it like travelling with your daughter? Mallory: It is so much fun to take her to new places and experience new things with her, but it’s also a challenge traveling with a baby/toddler. They need SO. MUCH. STUFF!
NH Golfer Gal: Who would be in your dream foursome? Mallory: I always find this question hard! My dream foursome would be my late grandfather, Marvin (I never got to play with him), my husband, Julien, and Tiger. Haha I know that’s a strange mix but it would be fun!
NH Golfer Gal: What would you do if you were in charge of the LPGA or PGA Tour for a day? Mallory: This is a great question. I would definitely make a mixed-team event that paired up the LPGA and PGA players together. I think fans would love it and it would bring SO much exposure to the women’s game! They used to have one of these events that was around when my mom played on the LPGA, and she said it was an awesome event.
I hope everyone enjoyed this interview! A huge thank you to Mallory for doing this!!
~NH Golfer Gal