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: Julie Houston - Professional Golfer
Julie Houston is a professional golfer currently competing on the Women’s All-Pro Tour. During her college years, Julie had an exceptional four-year experience and achieved significant success. Her standout performances at the collegiate level fueled her ambition to pursue a professional career in golf.
Julie's commitment to the sport and her genuine love for golf is evident in her continuous efforts to promote women's golf and inspire aspiring female golfers through programs like BackSwing Golf Events. We were lucky enough to sit down with Julie and ask her about her game and the growth of the women’s game at large.
Q: Can you share your journey and experience of fully committing yourself to pursuing a career in golf?
Julie: “My journey with golf started when I was 12. My brother worked at a golf course, and that's how I got into it. I advanced quickly enough, even though I started a little bit later than some of the girls out here. I got a scholarship to UTSA and had an amazing four years there. It was a really great experience, and I was able to have some success there."
"I knew when I was getting close to the end of my college career that I definitely wanted to turn pro in golf, which just means that you're deeming yourself a professional. We go to Q school to gain status on different tours. You go all the way, and you can get LPGA status, or the next level down is the Epson Tour, and then the Women's All-Pro Tour. So going to Q school sort of determines where you're going to play the next year, and that's always a big deal. Every year, you want to go as far as you can, but you just have to have the right timing."
"That's always been a lot to handle and a lot to deal with every year. It's never easy. It's a lot of pressure. But this is my 4th season as a pro, and I've gained a lot of experience from the first year. In terms of the sacrifices and hurdles you have to navigate when it comes to being a pro golfer, travel is huge. On the road for 3 out of 4 weeks of a month, so I'm home for one week, and then I'm gone again. I got married in April. My husband is very understanding of my golf, and he's super supportive. He wants me to keep doing it for as long as I want to, which is great. But I do miss out on hanging with friends who aren't golfers and seeing family. You definitely miss out on some things, but you're chasing a dream, so if you want it bad enough, it's worth it.”
Q: I’d love to hear more about your experience in college and how it compares to your time on the professional tour. With some experience under your belt in the professional world, what would you say is the biggest difference between the two levels of play?
Julie: “In college, you have your coaches and your university handling everything for you. Like, everything is taken care of for you, and all you have to do is show up when you need to show up. It's like, oh, great, love it!”
“But on the pro level, there’s no one there to hold your hand. You have to figure it out. You have to sort out nutrition plans, make your own travel arrangements, get your own gear, all of that is on you to handle.”
Q: Zooming out and looking at women's golf in general, how would you describe the evolution of the sport since you first fell in love with it as a kid?
Julie: "I think momentum and progress have been almost all positive for women's golf. As far as the Epson Tour, Epson has invested so much money and resources into the tour, and just the commitment to that tour they’ve shown is amazing. The purses are higher than ever, and more tournaments are being hosted than ever, so you're making more when you win, which is obviously what you want."
"It’s all trending in the right direction — I think people just need to watch women's golf more, which is hard when we have the TV slots that we do. But I think if the game keeps growing at the right pace, it will force networks to give it more prime-time coverage."
"I know, at the level I'm on, the competition gets only better each year. There are way more competitive women golfers than there were four years ago when I turned pro, so it’s amazing to see how popular the game is becoming. Personally, I always try and seek out the youth and explain just how good golf is, and try to get them to have fun with it. Golf can be super frustrating or boring at times, but it's also really fun. Just getting more kids into it is going to be a huge, huge part of the future."
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?
Julie: “Yeah, golf is a really weird sport to be a pro in because there is no contract, no guaranteed money. Sponsorships, sure, but at the level I'm on, it's extremely hard to get those. So you are literally playing week to week for your livelihood, and it's expensive to play! So yeah, there's a lot of pressure to make a cut, perform well, and make money to cover everything."
"For me personally, I handle it differently than maybe most people. When I'm out there, I'm not constantly thinking about the money or the impact it'll have on my earnings that week. I've been fortunate not to have to think that way through BackSwing's support, which has been huge and helped me a lot. But I believe the people who overly stress about every shot and its financial implications are the ones who struggle more. Golf is a game, and you'll have good weeks and bad weeks. You just have to take it with a grain of salt. If you have a bad week, the next week could be a whole different story. So that's how I deal with the pressure, working hard and keeping things in perspective."
Q: When we think about where the game is headed and what excites us about the future, what would you say you're most looking forward to when it comes to the evolution of the women’s game?
Julie: “One of the tours I play on is the Women's All-Pro Tour, and, next year, Annika Sörenstam's foundation will be the main sponsor of the tour. She’s the G.O.A.T of women's golf, so her contribution to the tour is fantastic. I'm really excited about the opportunities it will bring. Even though I'm hoping to be full-time on the Epson Tour next year, having such a prominent figure supporting the smaller tours is a great boost for women's golf. It means more attention and exposure for the sport, and so I’m very excited about that."
"I’m just looking forward to the growth of the game and the increase in fans who follow women's golf with the same enthusiasm as they do with men's golf. It's interesting to see how many people can easily name top male players, but not as many can do the same for LPGA pros. As the game continues to grow and gain more traction, I'm excited to see more people following and supporting women's golf in the road ahead."
Q: Talk about the work you’ve done with BackSwing Golf Events and the ways it’s benefitting the women golfer community?
Julie: “My experience with BackSwing has been nothing short of absolutely amazing. The company that Mackenzie, Amanda, and Taylor have built is just fabulous. They are doing so much for women's golf, and they don't even know the half of it.
“Us pros who are out here trying to make a living know how financially challenging this can be, and they understand that. They've created a platform for us to work for them in between tournaments. I had an event for BackSwing on Monday, and that's literally going to pay for my next tournament. It's a great deal they've set up to help aspiring professional golfers pursue their dreams.
“On the other side of that, the biggest thing that I love about BackSwing is that I get to raise money for great causes while I'm working, which is super rewarding. I've gotten to see firsthand people who benefit from the money I'm raising for them, so it's not just really fun, but also really good. I'm definitely blessed to be part of BackSwing, and I definitely don't see myself stopping working for them anytime soon."
“So many girls have to work at a golf course or do other things that take away from their practice or their focus on golf. Whereas with BackSwing, I am hitting balls all day. It's practice, in a sense. I'm not sacrificing anything by working for them. It’s truly an amazing program, and I'm incredibly grateful for it."
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?
Julie: “That’s a great question. I'd say, start by watching an LPGA tournament on TV for a weekend — whether you tune in live or record it and watch it later. Some people I've spoken to said they found watching the LPGA more relatable and enjoyable than men's golf. Maybe it’s because we don't swing at 120mph with the driver, so fans can actually relate to our game. It's fun to watch. And we have personalities just like the men too! So, I’d tell others to give it a chance, and watch more LPGA tournaments."
"I’d also encourage people to keep up with the smaller tours too. We visit a lot of towns across America, and unfortunately, not many people know about these events. So, take a look at our schedule and get out there! It’s literally free to watch us play, and you’ll get to watch some amazing players and some fantastic golf.”
Q: Any advice for fellow female golfers?
Julie: “Remember why you fell in love with the game. Golf can be really frustrating and really hard, especially at this level. So always remember why you fell in love with it, because when you think about it that way, you'll never want to stop. Just keep that passion alive, and stay dedicated to the game."
Stay tuned for Part 2 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.