By Rhonda Craig
Big 12 Campus Correspondent
She won the Johnie Imes Invitational for the second-straight year after breaking her own school record by five shots, followed by advancing to the 32nd round at the U.S. Women' s Amateur Championship. The best part? That was just in one season.
For Missouri golfer Julia Potter, the 18-hole adventure began when she was just six-years-old.
“My dad was reading an article in Golf Digest about how 40 percent of women’s golf scholarships go unused every year, and he decided that for me and my older sister this would be a great sport to learn in general, but it would also help get my college paid for,” Potter recalled.
Beginning at age six, Potter picked up her first golf club and hasn’t put it down much since. It wasn’t until she got to high school that she really began to see the fruits of her labor.
“My high school team won state three out of my four years. I was on the championship teams those three years, and actually my senior year we ended up breaking the state record,” Potter said.
Playing with a three-time championship team is certainly impressive, but there was something else Potter was playing with that few people even knew about.
At 13-years-old, Potter was diagnosed with Scoliosis - a medical condition in which a person's spine is abnormally curved.
“I don’t think right off the bat anybody would notice that I have Scoliosis,” she contends. “I had back surgery for it when I was 16, and I had a really good doctor. The way he put the bolts in would hit my shoulder blade when I was swinging, but it really doesn’t affect me that much at all.”
Despite the surgery, Potter still managed to miss minimal amounts of course time.
“I scheduled the surgery in the winter when there were no golf tournaments. That’s how much I love the sport, I’ll schedule back surgeries around it,“ Potter laughed.
After three months of inactivity, Potter was released on a Tuesday and turned around and played in her first tournament that following Saturday. Not long after graduating high school, she made her and her father’s dreams become a reality when she accepted a golf scholarship from Mizzou.
“It was something that they definitely wanted for me, but I always had the option. If I didn’t want to play golf in college I didn’t have to, but I mean they were excited for me and it does help with the bills,” she grinned.
In her first season on campus, Potter didn’t waste any time getting into the swing of things.
“I ended up playing in all the tournaments in the fall and all the tournaments in the spring, and then the Big 12 Championship. It was really exciting,” Potter said.
Potter says one of her best college golfing memories took place this past summer.
“I actually missed going to the US Women’s Open in a playoff,” she stated. “This past summer was the first summer that I really realized I could make it and not only to make it to the sectional qualifier, but actually compete and almost make it to the Open. It kind of gives me a boost of confidence that my game is better and that I can make it.”
Potter admits when it comes to her preparation, her technique is a little bit different. While others are out grooving their golf swing, she says she’d rather investigate the green.
“My preparation is more about learning the course I’m gonna play and what’s the best way to get around that golf course. Whether it’s going to the Internet, or if someone else has played there before hand. I’ll ask them questions like, what kind of weather it usually has, and what grass,” Potter said.
Even though she’s already broken one school record and tied another, Potter says she still hasn’t achieved her biggest goals.
“I think Big 12 will always be at the back of my mind and making it to National Championships. Those are my two biggest,” Potter noted.
Until her time comes she says she’ll keep doing what she’s been doing all along.
“I’m gonna keep checking the record book to see what other kinds of records I can break. Breaking school and course records are always somewhere in my mind,” she exclaimed.