Current Residence: Las Vegas, Nev.
Hometown: Mount Vernon, Mo.
Home Golf Course: Silverstone Golf Club; Wynn Golf and Country Club, Las Vegas, Nev.
Profession: Professional Golfer, Caddie, Teacher
- Three-time All-American, three-time conference champion and 2006 Player of the Year at Drury University
- 12 collegiate victories and 19 top-10 finishes at Drury University
- Earned conditional status on the Ladies European Tour in 20010
- Four top-10 finishes on the 2013 Cactus Tour
Tonya McCall had high ambitions for her professional golf career ever since her junior year of high school. She spent her first three years in college at Drury University in Missouri, a Division II school where she dominated in golf: 12 victories and earning player of the year honors her sophomore year.
It was after her junior year that, “Life happened,” as she eloquently puts it.
One of her close friends from her junior golf days is Sara Brown, also a two-time Big Break participant. Her father, Mike, connected Tonya to the golf program at University of Nevada-Las Vegas, where they were looking for a senior transfer. Tonya was at the right place at the right time. She knew she needed to press the reset button and continue her collegiate career in a new environment. UNLV was the answer.
She transferred to UNLV for her senior season. It was a rough time for Tanya. Born and raised in Missouri, transferring to UNLV was a serious adjustment for her on and off the golf course, and she did not perform to the best of her abilities.
“It was difficult moving away from my family and friends, but I knew deep down this was the right decision for me,” explained Tonya. “I changed clubs, my lifestyle, friends, everything. I didn’t have my support team around me. It allowed me to really grow up and challenge myself, and I am thankful that ‘life happened’ like it did.”
Following her senior season at UNLV in 2009, Tonya focused on her golf game in preparation for a professional golf career. She turned professional after the 2009 NCAA Division I National Championships and planned on hitting the mini-tour circuit. It was then that “life happened” a second time. While at a wedding in Denver, she was stepping up to the dance floor and felt a “pop” in her knee. Although she was in pain, she competed the following week in a SunCoast series event, where she placed first. That week, she discovered she had a tibial plateau fracture in her right knee, and was forced to shut her game down a month before Q-School and was on crutches for eight weeks.
“The knee injury was so disheartening for me,” said Tonya. “It made me even more determined at that time to come back from the injury and focus harder on my golf career.”
When she returned to golf, she found immediate success, earning four top-10 finishes on the Suncoast Tour, and a fourth-place finish on the Canadian Women’s Tour. She also advanced to final stage of the Ladies European Tour Q-School, earning conditional status for the 2010 season.
Again, life happened.
In January of 2010, she became pregnant with her first born, Molly. Tonya and her husband, Reese, made the joint decision to put her career on hold. That year took an emotional and physical toll on the McCall family. They moved multiple times due to Reese’s job opportunities as a head golf professional, and finances were tight. Her daughter was born in September of that year. In November, Reese’s company asked him to move back to Las Vegas for a new golf professional position. Not having family in Las Vegas, they were initially forced to live out of a hotel their first week back in Vegas.
“I remember breaking down one night while at a food court eating dinner and living on the strip,” said Tonya. “I told myself, ‘This was not how I pictured my life going or how I planned on raising my family.’
At that moment, she also realized that no matter what life throws at her, she can overcome adversity.
In 2011, she and her husband started to rebuild and get some continuity in their life. They bought a house in Las Vegas and started anew. She was a full-time mother, and gave birth to her second child, Mason, in May, 2012.
“Molly and Mason are my pride and joy,” said Tonya. “Being a mom and raising my two kids has given me such a different perspective on life, and it has allowed me to appreciate all that I have.”
Still, she wondered, what could have been.
In 2013, she began to play golf on a more consistent basis. She accepted a position to caddie at the Wynn Las Vegas. Golf was coming back into Tonya’s life, slowly but surely. After speaking with her husband and doing a lot of soul searching, she wanted to see if she still had what it takes. Her first tournament in four years was going to be on the Canadian Women’s Tour, where she had prior success.
Right before the tournament, her son came down with Pneumonia. Not hesitating, she canceled all plans for the tournament. “It just wasn’t my time yet,” she concluded.
After her son recovered, she returned to focusing on her golf game, and signed up for the Colorado Open, a tournament in which she has fond memories. The Colorado Open was her first tournament as a professional in 2009, and it also was the site where Reese proposed to her. In 2013, she added one more lasting memory to the list. She got the call that she was cast on Big Break Florida.
“I don’t think I screamed louder in my life,” joked Tonya. “I knew that was a sign. Big Break is all about giving players opportunities, and I am going to capitalize on mine.”
Tonya McCall is ready to find out what could have been with her golf career. Big Break Florida just might be the kick start she needs.