It may February, but it’s not to early to get a hot cut of Michelle Wie!
Born on October 11, 1989, in Honolulu, Hawaii, Michelle Wie displayed immense potential after learning to play golf at age 4. She qualified for a USGA tournament at age 10, and at 14 she became the youngest female to compete against men in a PGA Tour event. After claiming her first LPGA victory in 2010, the former prodigy won her first major tournament at the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open.
During her brilliant career this 6 foot tall super-athlete has shown grace under constant expectations to be the best in the world. Whether you follow golf or not, the chances are you know the name Michelle Wie.
“Growing up in the spotlight wasn’t easy. As a child, I struggled with body image issues – I was chubby and I was also 5’7’’ at ten years old.”
“I think women and men competing against each other truly broadens the appeal of the sport, so I’m all for it!”
Chaunce Hayden: You lived most of your life under such a big spotlight. What has that been like for you?
Michelle Wie: Growing up in the spotlight wasn’t easy. As a child, I struggled with body image issues – I was chubby and I was also 5’7’’ at ten years old. Being that tall was tough–I was bullied in school; it was hard being really insecure and then being thrown into the spotlight. I’m proud to say I worked through it and try every day to count my blessings.
Can you recall what first got you interested in golf? Did you start kicking and screaming or did you have a passion from the very start?
I have to say that I always loved golf – I lived, breathed, and slept it as a kid which led to my talent being acknowledged. I am so thankful that my career started so early and I get to live my dream every day.
Was there a moment when you thought to yourself, “I might actually be an amazing golfer one day?”
Early on, I always had big goals when it came to my career. I’ve had some amazing milestones including qualifying for a USGA tournament at age 10. But I knew my goals had no limits when I became the youngest female to qualify to compete against men in a PGA tour event when I was just 14.
Do you ever think what it would be like not to be one of the world’s greatest golfers? What would life be like?
I really try to have an active and “normal” life when I am not competing. I graduated from Stanford University in 2012 and I’m so happy that I got to have that college experience – everyone learns how to grow up together. I am like any other girl – lover of yoga, pizza enthusiast and Pinterest-obsessed. I can’t imagine my life without golf but I know that I would still be doing something I am passionate about.
Is there one moment in golf that stands out and means the most to you?
Winning the U.S. Women’s Open Golf Championship at age 24 was pretty cool!
I recall when you were still a teen playing alongside the male pro golfers. Looking back was that a mistake?
I think it was both an amazing experience and challenge to have happen in my teens. I have always had a competitive drive and have learned something from every single competition, especially when competing on that level.
Women golfers are so talented. Why can’t the two genders compete against each other?
I think women and men competing against each other truly broadens the appeal of the sport, so I’m all for it! Hopefully, I can continue to inspire young girls to pick up a club and shoot for big dreams like playing in the Masters.
What is the best advice you can give a weekend golfer…. like…..me?
Don’t just set up to the ball – build a “power plant” Take an extra-wide stance and plant each foot well outside your shoulders This broader base further restricts your hip turn. Then push out your knees so you look a bit bowlegged, like I do, and squat down a bit, pressing your spikes into the ground. Your legs are now engaged—the tightness signals that you’re ready to start your backswing. “Activating” your legs this way helps you swing like an athlete. If your legs are as limp as noodles, they’ll collapse under the force of your motion. Even for non-power hitters, loose legs sink swings
How important is Tiger Woods to the game of golf?
I’ve been fortunate to take part in one of the Tiger Woods Foundation Clinics in 2016 and take away some amazing lessons. I absolutely LOVE talking to Tiger about the game and got some great advice. Tiger was my favorite player growing up, I even had a life goal to beat him! His mark on the sport is undeniable.
We recently lost Arnold Palmer who most would agree was the greatest golfer who ever lived. What did he mean to golf and how did you feel about his passing?
The golf community was devastated by the loss of such an inspirational athlete and man.
What’s your favorite golf movie?
This is tough – there are some great ones! There is the obvious classic comedy in “Caddyshack” and “Tin Cup” was the romantic comedy take on the sport. I love trying to guess which golf course some of the most famous scenes in those movies were shot at!
Anyone who has ever golfed wants to feel that sensation of a driver whacking the ball straight down the middle of the fairway 250 yards. What’s the best way to make that happen?
Muscle repetition is key in golf, if you keep practicing and keep your head down – it’s going to happen! One of my favorite (and most important) things to work on is my swing – it’s all about discipline and consistency.
You have a very unorthodox way of putting. My back hurts just watching you. Why does it work and does your back ever get sore as mine does watching your technique?
Putting is very subjective – everyone has his or her own style. It all depends on what works and feels best for you. This technique really developed as a result of me wanting to get closer to the ball, wanting to be one with the ball if you will – now I see the line so much better when I read the putt. And my back hurt worse before I employed this technique; it feels so comfortable for me now, I’m almost at a 90 degree angle and it’s all legs.
Okay, what’s with you and StarKist Tuna?
I partnered with StarKist because I find that their Tuna Creations, Salmon Creations and Kid’s Creations single-serve pouches are a wonderful tasty source of protein that fits my on-the-go busy lifestyle. I love that you can just open the pouch and enjoy – no draining required. Plus, they make a honey bbq flavor that I really love to keep in my gym bag!
Why a gluten free diet?
My decision to be gluten and dairy free is from listening to my body and understanding what choices will resonate best. It definitely was the right decision for me – I feel so much healthier!
How much time do you spend in the gym?
My fitness plan really varies when I’m in-season and not. When I’m in-season there are a lot of golf-specific exercises I need to do for my hip and for my leg to keep everything strong. I really focus on my glutes and hamstrings—especially since I’m naturally very quad dominant. Those two are very important for golf. I’m also double-jointed in a lot of areas and don’t have any problem with flexibility so for me it’s more about keeping everything strong and tighter.
Is it possible to have a personal life with your insane schedule?
Yes! I learned that there are hardships that come with being a professional, just as in life. You can’t take anything for granted: your health, your friends, your family, your game, just be grateful for everything. And when you can, enjoy your “off-time,” which for me includes starting the day with an acai bowl and hot yoga, going to the beach, painting, baking and hanging out with friends.
Tell us something about you nobody knows?
I LOVE hot sauce!
Finally, best advice anyone has ever given you?
Never give up and keep grinding out a score.