Sports Spotlight: Hailey Pokorski – Golf

What inspired you to join golf?

I was mini golfing one day, and then I looked over. I’m at the top of the course, and I see the driving range. I got so intrigued. … I stopped what I was doing and just stood there and just looked. I’m like, ‘That looks so fun.” Then I asked my dad after we finished mini golfing, I’m like, ‘What’s that?’ He said, ‘It’s golf. Then afterwards, we went to Sports Authority, went over to the golf section, I swung a club, and it was just a natural swing. He was amazed. He was like, ‘I can’t believe you just did that.’ From there, that’s how I got here.

Describe your biggest strength and weakness?

My biggest weakness is mental; my mentality can sometimes get in the way. Golf is all about mental. If you don’t have a good mental state, it’s not going to happen. … My strength is my swing, just my physical capabilities, that’s my strength. Being able to swing that golf club and being able to physically get better, I think that’s my strength. … I’m good with every single club from driver down to putter. That’s all my strength. I don’t suffer physically, but mentally that’s my weakness.

How do you try to improve your weakness? 

I’m trying to readjust my mind when I’m playing a certain hole. I just started changing my mind toward when I make birdies on holes. I try not to get overly excited. I treat it like I was a pro golfer. I make that birdie and then I just walk up to the next hole. I’m not going to be immature and get overly excited. I just make that birdie, putt, move on to the next hole, and keep on going. That’s how I shot my 35 too; I just made those consistent birdies. 

What would you tell people on the fence about joining golf?

First, you have to have some experience coming into it. If you don’t have a basic swing down, you’re not going to get anywhere in the game. Simple as that. You have to know the fundamentals. If you come in there knowing nothing, you’re not going to get anywhere. You have to have some idea about the game because, if not, progress is not going to happen.

Since you’ve surpassed your old personal record and have a new record of a nine hole score of 35, what’s next?

Breaking 75 would be really nice. That would be my all time goal for 18 (holes). For nine, I would like to see a 33 or 32, going three or four under, that would be really nice to see.

What did you have to specifically work on to achieve your personal record?

Drives, practicing that accuracy, making sure I hit the fairways. Putting was a big adjustment, I had to make a lot of club changes. I went to the range almost every single day, just trying to get better. I spent two to three hours on the range just trying to dial in those irons, making sure my wedges are good. I would make sure I practiced my bunker shots. Then once I get back down, I feel pretty confident going in and playing golf, when I know that I can hit the drive solid. Irons, wedges, and when I can putt well, I’m like, ‘Okay, this is going to be a good day. Everything’s dialed in; it’s going to be a good round.’

What is your dream golf course?

Probably a links course, maybe Pebble Beach (in California). Bethpage Black in New York is my ideal place where I want to go play golf. They’re just courses that pros have played. I want to walk the same courses they have; I want to try something new. All I’ve played is Illinois golf courses, so I want to get out, experience courses in different states, in new environments. I want to challenge myself too. I think it would be really fun.