Welcome to part 3 of, “Now on the Tee”, an interview series where we delve into the remarkable journeys of women golfers who have embraced…
Now on the Tee: Gabrielle Gibson - Professional Golfer
Welcome to part 3 of, “Now on the Tee”, an interview series where we delve into the remarkable journeys of women golfers who have embraced their passion for the sport and pursued their dreams of making it as a pro. Whether currently excelling in the professional golf circuit or reflecting on their past experiences, these extraordinary women have navigated the challenges, sacrifices, and triumphs that come with the pursuit of a career in golf.
Through candid conversations, we aim to shed light on the dedication, resilience, and unwavering determination that drive these athletes forward, inspiring both golf enthusiasts and aspiring players alike. Join us as we celebrate the accomplishments and stories of these incredible women, proving that the world of golf is becoming a stage where talent and determination shine brighter than ever before.
Hailing from the vibrant state of California, Gabrielle Gibson is a professional women’s golfer currently competing on the Women's All Pro Tour. Her journey into the world of golf began in her early years, guided by her father's passion for the sport. As she honed her skills, Gabrielle's dedication and innate talent shone through, eventually earning her a coveted college scholarship at the University of Wyoming.
Taking the leap into the professional arena, Gabrielle has faced numerous trials and tribulations, demonstrating resilience and determination with the unwavering support of her dedicated team. Beyond her personal achievements, she has emerged as a fervent advocate for women's golf, actively promoting greater visibility through media engagement and championing initiatives that encourage more women to take up the sport. Gabrielle's inspiring journey serves as a testament to her passion for golf and her commitment to the growth of women's golf on a broader scale. We had the privilege of sitting down with Gabrielle to delve into her personal journey and her vision for the future of women's golf.
Q: We’ve seen a common theme emerge in these interviews — the challenges and rewards that come with aspiring to be a professional golfer. Let's delve into your journey from the early days when you decided to fully commit to a career in golf. Can you share your experiences, including the obstacles you've faced and the sacrifices made along the way?
Gabrielle: “I started playing golf later than many girls, getting serious about it during high school. It wasn't until my senior year that I realized I wanted to pursue golf as a career. I worked hard, earned a college golf scholarship, and played for the University of Wyoming, where I found success. It was during those college years that I decided to go all in on a professional golf career.“
“After graduating, I turned professional and went through Q-School. Now, I'm in my fifth year of that journey. It's been a grind, but it's also been made possible by sacrifices — not just my own but those of my family. Finding sponsorships, especially early on, can be tough. Fortunately, my parents have been incredibly supportive.“
“My dad retired around the time I went pro, and his dream was to travel the country in an RV. We decided to combine our dreams. So, for the past four years, we've been living in a 360-square-foot RV. My dad is also my caddy out on the course, which is really fun and definitely creates a unique relationship.”
“Living in an RV with your parents at 29 comes with its challenges. But I am able to sleep in my bed before every tournament — something many players can’t do. Finding accommodations for tournaments can be hit or miss, and you don't want to be uncomfortable before a big weekend.”
“The financial aspect is definitely a big hurdle. Many passionate players have to give up their dreams due to the financial side of it. I feel lucky that I’ve had the support and determination to keep pursuing my dream in the competitive world of golf.”
Q: What was the transition process like from competing in college to turning professional?
Gabrielle: “That transition is challenging because you're essentially on your own once you graduate. Although, in my case, having my parents' support has been invaluable. But it's true that in the professional realm, you no longer have coaches holding you accountable. There's no one telling you to hit the gym at 6:30 in the morning or to attend a specific training session. You're entirely responsible for making those decisions and fitting them into your schedule. It's a whole new level of independence.”
Q: Let’s turn back the clock and talk about when you first fell in love with golf. Thinking back to those early days, how has women’s golf evolved and grown since then?
Gabrielle: “This one's a bit tricky. What I do is, before the season kicks off, I try to secure enough funds to cover my entry fees for the entire year. So, that’s definitely a big part of my offseason is raising those funds. Having a little bit of a financial cushion in place for my entry fees helps relieve some of the pressure on me to perform well at every single tournament. It’s definitely nice to not have to think about that side of things while I’m on the course.”
“I can confidently tell myself that, regardless of the outcome in any tournament, I'll still be teeing up next week. The funny thing is I actually think I was feeling the pressure more so in college than I am now.”
"Back in college, I would be in the middle of a tournament round and that thought would creep in - 'Oh my goodness, I need to make this putt or put this in the fairway, or I won't make the cut for the next tournament,' So, it's kind of funny that my life as a pro doesn't have me feeling the heat as much as what I experienced in college."
Q: Why do you think that is?
Gabrielle: “Looking back five years ago when I began my professional journey, there were limited options for women's golf tours. Unless you secured status through Q-School, you had only one or two mini-tours to choose from. These options were great, but the payouts and overall experience weren't as favorable as they are now.”
“But things have changed a lot since then, I’d say. New tours have emerged, and existing ones have only gotten better. The Women's All Pro Tour, in particular, has been a game-changer for women's golf. It provides a comprehensive tour experience, including food, host housing, yardage books, practice rounds, and range balls. It really has transformed the experience for female players, making them feel like they're part of a genuine professional tour, unlike some earlier tours that felt more like leagues.”
“The Women's All Pro Tour has not only improved the financial aspect for female golfers, but has also provided exemptions to higher-level events like Symetra Tour events. This has bridged the gap and offered more opportunities for female players to compete and progress toward their goal of joining the LPGA.”
“It's been remarkable to witness the growth of the Women's All Pro Tour. In its early days, some tournaments struggled to attract enough players, but now there are waitlists for a lot of these events. I think the game is just more accessible than ever. It allows female players to sign up and participate without needing specific status, which is definitely a positive change.”
“While there's still work to be done, particularly regarding financial support compared to men's tours, there's no denying the progress in women's golf. Improving sponsorships and attendance at LPGA events is something we can collectively address. But I know these changes won't happen overnight, and it will take time to make significant strides in these areas.”
Q: We’ve talked about increasing visibility for the women’s game and bringing more fans into the fold. How would you say others can best support the growth and success of women’s golf moving forward?
Gabrielle: “That's a great question. I'd say one way is to encourage more people to attend LPGA events and generate enthusiasm around them. Take, for instance, the Waste Management Tournament; people (even those who don't play golf) love attending it. What if we could create a similar atmosphere for women's golf?”
“It could be something for people to enjoy and have fun with. Golf is a sport, after all. I understand there's a tradition of silence during shots, but it's still a sport, and people love cheering for their favorites. If we could bring that kind of energy to the women's side, I believe it could attract even more support. More attendance means more ticket sales and potentially increased financial support for prize purses.”
Q: How do you handle the immense pressure that comes with performing in these tournaments, especially when your livelihood is somewhat tied to how well you do?
Gabrielle: “I know it's different for everyone, but I'm going to credit my dad here because he’s been my caddy. Obviously, when we were out there, my whole mentality was not caring and not worrying about what happens. So my dad came up with a little slogan, ‘Don't be a Karen.’ That was the whole mantra for the whole week during Q-School. Every time I started caring too much because I had a bad shot and started worrying about the outcome, he would remind me, ‘Don't be a Karen.’ Going into it mentally, I learned to not stress over the eventual outcome. Whatever happened happened. If I played well, great! I moved on to Stage 2. If I didn't play well, then I probably wasn't going to play golf anymore.”
“So I think that was the mentality I had going into it. I took all the pressure off myself because whatever it was, it was. Of course, I know that this is often easier said than done. It took me a long time to figure that out. But with every swing, every putt, I just trust my ability and all the work I've put in over the years and let it happen. That's where I’m at mentally, and it’s a good place to be in.”
Q: Any advice for fellow female golfers?
Gabrielle: “If you're thinking about playing professionally, just go for it. Who wants to look back 10 years from now and wonder ‘What if?’ I encourage anyone with that thought to just go out there and do it — go all in. I know some girls hesitate, thinking they're not ready for Q-School, and that their game isn't where it needs to be. But, girl, you're never going to feel entirely ready for Q-School. You just have to go for it.”
“And for those who have been on this journey for a while, my advice is don't give up too soon. I understand that financial challenges can force some to quit prematurely. But if you can still find a way, don't give up too soon. I almost didn't go to Q-School this past year. I was having a rough season, missed a lot of cuts on the Women's All Pro Tour, and I was getting tired of the grind. I even considered quitting.”
“However, after talking to friends, family, and coaches, they convinced me to give it one more shot. I'm so glad I did because I made it to Stage 2 for the first time in five attempts. It's been a real grind, and you never feel fully prepared, but you just have to go for it and not give up too soon because you never know what's around the corner. That would be my biggest piece of advice.”
Q: Finally, let’s talk about the work you’ve done with BackSwing Golf Events and the ways it’s benefitting the women golfer community.
Gabrielle: “I've had such a great experience with BackSwing Golf Events. When you're out there at a BackSwing event, you're really serving two purposes. You're helping charities raise money, and at the same time, you're raising money to support your own career and your own dreams. It’s such an awesome concept that they've come up with. It not only helps girls who are trying to make it to the LPGA financially, but also supports charities all over the country. So that's probably the best thing.”
“But also, from a personal perspective, being on the BackSwing team and having this fantastic group of girls around you, all sharing the same path and dreams, it's pretty cool. We all work together towards our goals. It’s also a fantastic opportunity to go out there and hit shot after shot after shot and improve your own game. I can definitely say that participating in BackSwing events has helped my personal game. For instance, when I played in Q-School during stage one, every time I got to a par-3, I felt confident because I had hit so many shots on par-3s at BackSwing events; I knew I was going to hit every green.”
“So, it's not just about raising funds; it's also about improving your game through practice and repetition. There are so many aspects to BackSwing that make it really awesome. I've had such a great experience so far, and I'm looking forward to participating in more events, meeting new people, and, occasionally, even running into a celebrity or two, which is pretty awesome.”
Stay tuned for Part 4 of our interview series! These interviews highlight the resilience and determination of these amazing athletes, and we’re thrilled to be sharing their stories.
We are incredibly grateful for our partnership with BackSwing Golf Events, a group of lady professional golfers providing vital support to aspiring athletes like those featured in this series. Together with BackSwing, we're committed to promoting women's golf and inspiring the next generation of talented players to reach for their dreams on and off the course.