At the tender age of six, Olivia Mehaffey knew she wanted to pursue a future in golf. Alongside her brother Luke, her father Phillip used to bring them down to Tangragee Golf Club where they would compete ferociously to get the better of one another. Most of her golfing as a youth found her competing against the boys at her local neighbourhood club, as a result of very few girls showing up to play at the time.
With golf male-dominated back then, the now 23-year-old professional golfer was often inspired by Rory Mcllroy and Shane Lowry amongst many others growing up. Though finding role models in male golfers, Mehaffey often wondered what would be like if there were females like herself who would had the benefit of seeing other women golfers growing up.
Years later, young girls today have female golfers who they can look up to in the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA), something that the Down native wished she had growing up.
Speaking on her childhood memories, Mehaffey is desperate for the next generation of girls to be afforded the same opportunities she has received.
Having an environment for girls to play sports is not only fun, but it is fundamental for girls to feel supported and welcomed in the sport. When they see others like themselves playing the sport, it encourages them to pursue their passion. With much admiration and passion for golf, Mehaffey finds much pleasure in golfing as a career which has kept her happy through the years, and advises others to find a career that makes them happy. “To have a career to be something you love so much, I think it’s so exciting.”
With the constant objectification of women in the media, females in sports constantly feel the pressure to compare themselves to unrealistic expectations.
“It’s tough. You feel that you have to be perfect in everything because you think you’re being judged in every single area. Things are getting better, but there’s still a big difference [between men and women].”
One piece of advice that she’d give to young girls dealing with these issues: “everybody’s going to have something to say. You can’t please everybody. Just really listening to those around you is important.” Overall, knowing who’s around you and who supports and forgetting those who may try to bring you down will help you in the long run.
In addition to focusing on the positive feedback, having a plan for yourself along with a solid team who knows you will allow for you to stay focused on your own athletic journey and feel less pressure to compare yourself to others. “If you have that kind of plan for yourself and you know what you’re trying to achieve, you don’t even look at what other people are doing because you’re so focused on what you want to achieve.”
As for what she was to achieve in the future, Mehaffey looks forward to getting a LPGA card and winning an Olympic gold. Though not viewed as an end goal for all golfers, Mehaffey has her eyes set on the gold. For all golfers, Mehaffey advises to find the fun in what you do, as it is easy to get lost in the competition and forget what inspired you in the first place.