Ashley Grier, who played for five years on the LPGA Futures (now Symetra) Tour, became the first female PGA professional in the Philadelphia section’s 95-year history to win a points event. She will be competing in the second annual Valley Forge Invitational at Raven’s Claw Golf Club in Pottstown, PA this spring. Montco Golf sat down with Grier to discuss golf in Montgomery County, the biggest moments of her career, and what it takes to become a champion.
Q: Tell me a little bit about your background and how you got started playing golf?
A: My Dad is a PGA professional and bought a golf center when I was six. Our house was on the property, so I literally had a miniature golf, driving range, and an 18-hole, par-3 course in my front yard.
Q: Could you offer any tips and tricks for someone just getting started in the sport?
A: I would advise to take a few lessons to start so that you can get the basics and have good fundamentals. If you set up poorly and are unsure of what you are doing, you will create bad habits. Then, after a few lessons, try to find some time to go to a driving range and figure out your swing and how you can make contact. Also, don’t neglect your short-game. We all want to drive the ball as far as possible, but chipping and putting are equally important. Improving that area of your game is the easiest way to lower your scores.
Q: What so far is your most memorable shot?
A: My most memorable shot would be in the 2014 Maryland Women’s Open at Congressional CC in DC. I was in a playoff for the win with two other women. On the first playoff hole, (also the first hole on the golf course) I had a 50-foot shot from just into the first cut of the rough. It was straight downhill, and I had a huge gallery behind me watching and I remember telling my caddie that I’m going to putt this because I was nervous and didn’t want to do anything stupid. I ended up putting it in for the win. It was pretty cool.
Q: How do you keep yourself calm and focused in that type of environment?
A: Mental practice. The biggest thing is, you know, you hit this shot a million times. A drive is still a drive whether you’re by yourself or in front of a crowd. It’s important to have a pre-shot routine. Then, when it’s time to hit, you go into your routine of what you’ve done a thousand times; it’s almost automatic. It’s harder to do than it sounds.
Q: What was it like to become the first female PGA professional in the Philadelphia section’s 95-year history to win a points event?
A: I was extremely excited to win. The Philadelphia PGA is a very competitive section with a ton of really good players. There aren’t usually many women in the field, and it can sometimes be intimidating if the guys aren’t used to seeing females playing against them. So that made is especially nice to win this event and establish some respect with the rest of the players and prove to myself that I can be a competitive player in this section.
Q: What are you looking forward to most at this year’s Valley Forge Invitational?
A: Competing at a high level in my local area. The members at Overbrook are extremely supportive and it’s going to be fun playing in front of them in this kind of setting. I also hope that having this event in our area will bring more awareness to women’s golf!
Q: Anything you’d like to add about why Montgomery County is a premier place for golf?
A: It’s tough to find a place that has so many good golf courses in such a tight area than what we have here in Montgomery County. The golf tradition here is also about as good as you’ll find anywhere else.