USGA Boatwright Intern Potter Making Most Of Vacation Time
By David Shefter, USGA
Eugene, Ore. – Julia Potter didn’t need to persuade her boss for a break to compete in this week’s U.S. Women’s Amateur at Eugene Country Club.
Not when your summer occupation involves golf.
The 20-year-old from Granger, Ind., and a junior-to-be at the University of Missouri is one of many USGA-supported P.J. Boatwright interns serving various golf associations and organizations. In 1991, the USGA established the P.J. Boatwright Internship Program to give experience to individuals interested in pursuing a career in golf administration, while assisting state/regional golf associations, as well as other non-profit organizations dedicated to the promotion of amateur golf, on a short-term, entry-level basis.
Potter has spent the last few months with the Missouri Golf Association learning all aspects of golf administration, from conducting championships to understanding how to accurately rate a course.
But when she qualified for the Women’s Amateur, she needed to ask MGA Executive Director Scott Hovis for time off. Hovis, a former Boatwright intern himself at the MGA (1994) who spent five seasons on various professional circuits before getting his amateur status back in 2001, understood the situation. An elite player, Hovis qualified for his first USGA event five years ago (U.S. Mid-Amateur) at Sea Island Golf Club, but did not make the match-play cut.
“We’ve managed to work around her playing schedule,” said Hovis by phone in Kansas City where he was playing in an event.
Potter recently worked the Missouri State Amateur, an eye-opening experience where she assisted Hovis in all aspects of the competition, including the selection of hole locations.
“I think what I’ve learned with the job has actually helped me prepare better for golf tournaments,” said Potter after carding a 2-under-par 70 Tuesday and finishing stroke-play qualifying at 1-under 143, easily within the match-play cut. “I’m really lucky to have a boss who not only understands my golf schedule, but is also there encouraging me.”
During Potter’s sophomore season, Hovis sent an e-mail to the University of Missouri coaches seeking an intern for the summer. Potter had already decided to spend the summer in Columbia, so she applied and landed the position.
“As a player, we don’t really understand all the time and effort that’s put in by not only the [staff] but the volunteers,” said Potter. “Learning how to run tournaments and what it is to work in an office … has been a great experience and I don’t regret a second of it.”
But while she’s received an education in tournament administration, the internship hasn’t solved one major phobia. Potter still hates to fly. The situation has improved since her freshman season when she had several panic attacks. En route to Oregon, she flew with Missouri teammate and fellow Women’s Amateur qualifier Lindsey Haupt of St. Louis, which eased the tension.
Good conversation kept Potter’s mind occupied enough to avoid any harrowing situations.
“It was really nice to have a teammate and somebody I know on the plane with me,” said Potter, who captured her second consecutive Indiana State Amateur title earlier this summer.
Her anxieties apparently didn’t carry over to the golf course, where she was competing in her first USGA championship after six years of trying. Potter came up short in sectional qualifying for the U.S. Women’s Open in June, but finally broke through at her Women’s Amateur qualifier in Indianapolis, garnering the last spot via a playoff after carding a 76.
Now the left-hander is into match play, where she’s had previous success. Potter won the 2004 and ’05 Indiana Girls’ Junior title and has competed in the Women’s Western Amateur.
“If I play like today, I’ll feel really confident in my game,” said Potter, hoping to become the first female southpaw to raise a USGA trophy (four males have done so). “Match play is just completely different. It’s just head to head. Anything can happen.”
The fact that Potter is competing at all is remarkable. Four years ago, doctors inserted a metal rod in her back to stabilize a back condition known as scoliosis, which is where a person’s spine is curved from side to side, and may also be rotated. The abnormality can make the spine look like an ‘S’ or a ‘C’ instead of a straight line.
Stacy Lewis, a member of the 2008 USA Curtis Cup team, suffered from the same condition and surgery five years ago helped her continue playing at a high level. She nearly won the 2008 U.S. Women’s Open in her professional debut.
Potter has been to play pain free, but doctors at Missouri have recommended she undergo the same procedure as Lewis. It’s something she will consider after her eligibility expires or as long as she can play without pain.
After Tuesday’s 70, there was no reason to grimace.
David Shefter is a USGA New Media staff writer. E-mail him with questions or comments at email@example.com.