Former LPGA Pro Discovers She’s Talented At Another Game - Pickleball
Posted on May 15 2018
You hear about male athletes doing it all the time. For whatever reason they can think of, they decide to try their hand at another sport after they are done playing the game that made them a household name.
Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo got to take part in a PGA Tour event earlier this season. Another former quarterback, Tim Tebow, up and decided a couple of years ago that he wanted to play professional baseball and is still spreading the word while playing AA-ball.
You aren’t likely going to hear about too many women switching sports, but that is because they don’t have nearly as many options available to them as men. But it appears that one former LPGA pro has found a new love—pickleball.
Sherri Steinhauer played on the LPGA tour for 26-years starting with her rookie season in 1986. Over the course of her career, she would win ten times, eight of which came on the LPGA Tour. She seemed to especially excel whenever she’d hop across the pond to play winning her first of three Women’s British Open titles in 1998 (second in 1999; third in 2006).
With $6.04 million in career earnings, assuming she was smart with her money, she is not going to need the prize money that comes with her new obsession—pickleball. While she often played for six-figure paydays during her golf career, at the U.S. Open Pickleball Championship last month first place took home something in the low four-figure range.
But when you love what you’re doing, it's not about the money.
She took up the oddly named sport a couple of years ago at the behest of a former University of Texas teammate, Lisa DePaulo.
DePaulo brought a set of paddles out to California (where Steinhauer has a winter home), so she and Steinhauer could play. Despite not having any idea how to play or what the rules were, the two spent a day of trying to play at the Mission Hills Country Club.
Later that night, Steinhauer went online to learn the rules of the game. The next day, she took the court with her friend once again, determined and ready to face the challenge of pickleball.
"I was hooked immediately," said Steinhauer (via ESPNW). "Since that first day, I've hardly missed a day of playing pickleball."
She’s become good enough at the game that she felt comfortable entering the U.S. Open Pickleball Championship last month in Florida. Over the course of the week, she played in 20 matches with four different partners, two for women’s doubles and the other two for mixed doubles.
Along with her partner, 27-year old Jordan Hanisch, she took the bronze in mixed doubles.
"I walked away from that experience understanding what I have to do to get better," she said afterward (via ESPNW). "I've gained a wealth of knowledge and amazing experience with this special group of people I've met playing tournaments."
As of the Open Tournament, she was considered a 4.5 level player. That leaves moving up to 5.0 and then the open, professional level. With the time she puts into improving her game and her dedication to getting better, there is little doubt she’ll eventually get there.
She wants to play in the open division at the Open next year.
As for her golf clubs, her tool of choice for over a quarter century—they are nowhere to be seen. It’s safe to say that the golfer has become a pickleball player.
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