By Chaunce Hayden
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.
You lived most of your life under such a big spotlight. What has that been like for you?
Growing up in the spotlight has definitely had its challenges. As a child, I struggled with body image issues.
I was quite the chubby one growing up 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.
Having a “Michelle Wie Day” in sixth grade might seem like the greatest thing, but it wasn’t, it was perhaps the worst! It was this big accomplishment but I was so embarrassed. I’m proud to say I worked through it and try every day to count my blessings.
Was there a moment when you thought to yourself, “I might actually be an amazing golfer
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
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!
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
Do you still get nervous before you play?
Definitely. But I think that means you’re excited and you want to do well. The nerves never really go away. But what I like to do is take a moment, slow down my breathing, chill and listen to some music, and get in the zone.
What is the best advice you can give a weekend golfer….
“Don’t just set up to the ball – build a “power plant” When weekend players stand at address, they usually
think about the target, or more likely, the pond lurking on the right. Me? I think about my legs. I want them as
sturdy and steady as possible, from my glutes to my calves. This lets me limit my hip turn when I start rotating
my shoulders, maxing out my coil. To start, do what I do: Take an extra-wide stance and plant each foot
well outside your shoulders (photo, above). 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.
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
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
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.
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.
What would you count as your proudest moment in your career?
There have been a couple. One that stands out the most is graduating from Stanford University. It has always been my dream to go to college while playing professional golf at the same time. The second obviously is winning the 2014 US Women’s Open — it was a dream come true, the moment I’d looked forward to my whole life.
Tell us something about you nobody knows?
During my off weeks, I love to cook my meals at home. As someone with dietary restrictions and allergies, I try
to eat Paleo as much as I can because it really helps to control the inflammation in my body. At first it seemed difficult, but there are so many ways you can cook protein and veggies that it became easier once I got the hang of it.
Finally, best advice anyone has ever given you?
Never give up and keep grinding out a score.