Big Break Atlantis Competitor
Current Residence: Washington, D.C
Hometown: Orlando, Fla.
Home Course: Laurel Hill Golf Club, Washington D.C. / Windermere Country Club, Orlando, Fla.
College: Daytona State College / Missouri State University
Profession: Professional Golfer / Donor Coordinator, Green America
Aubrey McCormick was a late bloomer in golf, taking up the game much later than most of her peers at the age of 18. As a senior in high school, she swung a club for the first time while on a reluctant golf outing with her father at her home course in Orlando. While it is her father whom she credits with ultimately pushing and encouraging her to achieve professional status, she laughs when looking back on that first time on the course and discussing her initial attraction to the game.
“It’s funny, but it’s true,” joked McCormick. “When I first began, I was incredibly raw at the driving range – and probably pretty awkward as well – but I enjoyed the challenge. People laughed when I first started playing and that really motivated me to prove a lot of people wrong. In some way, I guess I've always thrived in the role of the underdog."
Defined by determination and buoyed by her raw athleticism, the six-foot McCormick continued to spend time at the range and out on the course, honing her rapidly improving game. Those same jeers and jokes from her peers soon silenced. In doing so, she fell in love with the game.
In six short months, her game blossomed to the point where she felt confident enough to send letters and videos to more than 30 collegiate coaches. Ultimately, McCormick was offered a full scholarship to Daytona State College, where she was a member of the 2003 NJCAA National Championship team. It was that year that McCormick decided to eventually turn professional following college.
“Being a part of that team was such a great experience for me, and it gave me so much confidence. It made me realize that this is what I want to do.”
McCormick earned Most Improved Player during the 2003 season, her final year at Daytona State. She accepted a full scholarship to Missouri State University, where she was a member of the Lady Bears golf team for two years. She turned professional immediately following graduation in 2006.
Like so many of her fellow competitors on Big Break Atlantis, McCormick realized quickly the difficulties of making ends meet as a professional golfer.
"As a young professional golfer, you live in a paradox,” explained McCormick. "You either go 'all in' as it relates to practicing and competing and then can quickly run out of money, or you work a job and fundraise in order to have the liquidity to play. But in the process, you can lose so much practice time on the course that your game suffers in the process.”
Determined not to succumb to the self-described paradox, McCormick spent the next five years raising money to compete on the mini tour circuits and on the Symetra Tour (LPGA developmental tour). Between the requisite full-time fundraising and working several part-time jobs, she realized that the very scenario she sought to avoid was slowly happening to her.
Those five years of playing on the mini tours and trying to maintain finances took a toll on her. She eventually became burned out on golf.
“In the process of raising money, I lost so much practice time on the course,” said McCormick. “I was constantly trying to find money to be able to play, so, I always had to work. I saw my game suffer in the process and I found myself in the exact space I wanted to avoid – not being able to focus purely on golf as a professional.
“At that point, golf just wasn’t fun for me anymore.”
After brief stints in New York and Washington, D.C., as a teaching pro, McCormick realized that it was simply too hard for her to be out there with others on the golf course.
"It had become a frustrating cycle of coming so close, only to fall just short of my objective time and time again,” said McCormick. I've always been defiant in the face of adversity, but at that point, I was beyond frustrated. I was truly dejected."
McCormick left the green of the golf course for the structure of an office, where she worked with an environmental advocacy program, focusing on global environmental sustainability initiatives. In the process, she unlocked a passion she had developed over the previous 10 years on the golf course.
"I was raised to be both passionate and protective of the environment," said McCormick. “In the last decade, my childhood passion for the environment has only deepened.”
Despite hanging up her clubs in November 2010, she says she never lost her love of the game. After working in an office setting for a year, the dejection faded and the passion for the sport slowly resurfaced. She had a desire to not only return to golf, but also as the first "green" golfer on the LPGA Tour.
"This is an opportunity to merge my two real passions in life – golf and the environment – and to do so at the highest level of the sport,” said McCormick. “It has been interesting to see how this past year helped me rediscover golf again and how much fun and rewarding the sport can be. Even at my lowest point, I never gave up on my dream and that is a message that I want to take to others. Just because you're deflated doesn't mean you're defeated.”
With a renewed spirit and a demonstrable passion for the game, McCormick just might be the one to beat on Big Break Atlantis