Heather Angell has spent the past 14 years teaching other women how to play golf better. This week, she’s spending some time concentrating on her own game.
A Class A PGA certified professional from Winston-Salem, Angell will tee it up alongside the best female golfers in the world this week at the KMPG Women’s PGA Championship at Kemper Lakes Golf Club outside of Chicago.
It will the first major event of her career and a challenge she’s looking forward to facing.
“Playing is my passion,” she said following a practice round on Monday. “I’ve enjoyed sharing my passion through teaching them and getting them excited about the game. But it’s also nice to be able to take advantage of this opportunity and be able to play in the tournament.”
Angell spends her summers as an instructor at the North Carolina Golf Academy in Greensboro and her winters in Fort Myers, Fla., as the director of ladies’ golf programs at the Verandah Club.
In between, the 37-year-old North Carolina graduate has played in as many tournaments as her time has allowed on golf’s mini tours and earned the Ohio Women’s Open championship in 2012.
She qualified for her spot in this week’s Women’s PGA by finishing third at the LPGA Teaching and Club Pro Championship at Mid Pines in Pinehurst last September.
After spending the past nine months thinking about the accomplishment and preparing for the tournament, Angell is more than ready to finally get out there and play. And she won’t have to wait any longer than necessary to get on the course.
With a 7:30 a.m. starting time along with playing partners Julieta Granada and Lopez Lee, she’ll be the first player off the tee in Thursday’s opening round.
“I’ve known about this since (September), so I’ve had to process it and manage it,” she said. “I’m excited that it’s here and I’m looking forward to it. This is my first LPGA major tournament. I’ve worked hard on my game over the years, and it’s really neat to kind of see it pay off.”
Although she doesn’t have as much experience at this level as current U.S. Open champion Ariya Jutanugarn or LPGA Tour regulars Inbee Park, Lydia Ko and Lexi Thompson, Angell said she feels good about the way she’s playing as she prepares to compete on the biggest stage of her career.
That doesn’t mean she’s going into the tournament with unrealistic expectations.
“Obviously you want to play as well as you can, and I hope to do so,” she said. “But I definitely want to enjoy the moment and really have a great experience.
“I would love to make the cut. I’d love to win the tournament. When I tee it up Thursday, that’s going to be my goal. I have the game to be out here. You never know. This might be my week. But at the same time, I’m just really excited about the opportunity.”
As accomplished as Angell is as a player and instructor, her talents aren’t limited to just golf.
She has both a bachelor’s degree in journalism from UNC and a master’s degree in sports management from High Point, and she will begin working as an adjunct professor in Florida Gulf Coast’s professional golf management program this fall. She is also well-versed in marketing, promotion, business planning and social media and has even established her own YouTube channel to provide quick golf tips for all levels of players.
Among her other pursuits is a blog (eatplaywin.blogspot.com) geared toward athletes who, like herself, fight a constant battle with food allergies.
“I have an intolerance to gluten, and it changed my life when I went gluten-free,” Angell said. “But it also changed how I traveled and lived on the road for tournaments. I was going to all these different cities and investigating the best places to eat for someone who has food allergies, so I just thought I could help other people to share that information. It’s been fun.”
Not as much fun as playing, though. Especially this week when, after 14 years of teaching others, she’ll get to see how her own game stacks up against the best in the world.