Want to master the hardest game ever invented? Want to become one of Minnesota's most promising golfers?
Here are the golf tips you need to follow:
1. Build a time machine.
2. Go back to when you were six years old and take up the game while learning from your father, who is an instructor.
3. Practice and play seven or eight hours a day.
4. Approach the game with an optimism and enthusiasm that, for most of us, disappears after our first Titleist sinks to the bottom of a pond.
Isabella McCauley, the Star Tribune All-Metro Girls' Athlete of the Year last school year, is a senior in high school. She qualified for the last U.S. Open.
Last weekend, she became the first woman and youngest ever to win the Minnesota Golf Champions tournament, beating a field of men and women, with the men playing a longer version of the course.
McCauley, 17, who lives in Inver Grove Heights and plays out of Southview Country Club, will play for the Gophers next year and seems bound for the LPGA Tour. She wore a maroon Gophers cap during the tournament last weekend.
"I would love to turn professional,'' she said. "That's the goal. But I always take it step by step and never really look too far ahead. I'm committed to playing for the Gophers and I'm super excited about that.''
Golf isn't the only form of instruction she receives around the house. She says she has always been home-schooled.
Her typical day?
"During the school year, I'll get up and work at school for about five hours, like seven to 12 on average,'' she said. "Then I'll go play golf until dark. In the winter, I'll practice for about three hours in my basement or in a dome. Then I'll come back home and do more school work and sometimes I'll work out.
"I do workouts two or three times a week, usually at night. During the school year, I'd say I practice between three and six hours a day. In the summer, we play five days a week. And on those days we want to be out there for seven hours, including the round of golf. One day a week we'll practice for about five hours, and then we'll take one day off.''
She's taking early-college courses through the University of Northwestern-St. Paul. "I've been home-schooled my whole life, so it's something I'm used to at this point,'' she said. "I really enjoy it because I'm able to manage my time and schedule. And if I have a golf trip, I can get ahead or take my work with me. I'm kind of Type-A so this works for me. You just have to be able to learn while dealing with distractions.''
She started playing at six. Her father, Sean, wanted her to "learn a game we could enjoy the rest of our lives.''
McCauley played in a tournament when she was 10, she said, "and that's when I really started getting into it. Once I played in a tournament, I was definitely more interested.'' She finished in the top 10 of the state high school meet when she was in 7th grade, and competed in the Drive, Chip & Putt championship at Augusta National in 2017.
Her father's instruction and her work ethic made her the state's No. 1-ranked high school girls' player in the state last year competing for Simley. Her victory last weekend is an indication she's making winning a habit.
"In August, I played in the state open,'' she said. "I was leading going into the last nine holes and I had a weird thing happen to me where I was hitting putts up a hill and they were rolling back to my feet. I had put a lot of pressure on myself.
"So my goal going into this last weekend was to not put too much pressure on myself, and just try to focus on a number. It definitely means a lot, to win that tournament.''