In this week's issue of Golf World, I wrote a piece on Emily Tubert, the reigning U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links champion who starts is just starting her freshman year at Arkansas this fall. The 18-year-old from Burbank, Calif., intrigues me a lot, mostly because of her refreshing attitude about the game. She's a raw talent who had an impressive summer, but isn't letting it get to her head.
Talking to Lady Razorback coach Shauna Estes-Taylor about Tubert, we naturally discussed the prodigious length off the tee that her newcomer brings. Interestingly, though, Estes-Taylor said that Tubert's putting is better than you might realize.
"She's worked with a putting coach out in California that has allowed her to become of the best putters I've had come to my squad out of junior golf."
Meanwhile here is the Golf World story:
You'd half expect Arkansas freshman Emily Tubert to carry some swagger upon arriving in Fayetteville, Ark., last month, still beaming from her U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links win two months earlier. Until, that is, you talk to the Burbank, Calif., native and realize you're not dealing with some 18-year-old know-it-all.
Asked about her expectations as she embarks on her college career, Tubert humbly sees the moment as a chance to mature on the course. "Coming to Arkansas," she says, "I'm going to learn how to really play golf."
It was only five years ago that Tubert took up the game, her natural athleticism allowing her to excel rapidly. A former water-polo player and quarterback on her high school "powder puff" football team, the 5-foot-11 Tubert made big strides this summer, winning the WAPL title, then finishing second at the AJGA Rolex Tournament of Champions at Blessings GC near Fayetteville, her future team's home course.
"It was really a breakthrough summer for her with regards to a sense of belonging," Arkansas coach Shauna Estes-â¿¿Taylor says. "All along it was about just getting her some confidence and letting her know she had the tools to win."
Estes-Taylor needed all of one swing to become excited about Tubert's potential as she convinced her to leave Pac-10 country for the SEC. "I was at the AJGA Polo event at Thanksgiving, and I saw her hit a tee ball," recalls Estes-Taylor, learning later that Tubert consistently hits her driver at least 250 yards. "I was like Holy cow, this kid is amazing.' She hadn't played much, but you could see she had a good foundation [with her swing]."
With Tubert beginning the acclimation process to college, Estes-Taylor talks of teaching her "options" to help with course management and vary an otherwise one-dimensional approach to the game. Case in point: her wedge play. Being such a long hitter, Tubert often has no more than a wedge to the green. By sharpening her distance control and learning different ways to flight the ball with her wedges, Estes-Taylor believes Tubert can improve her scoring.
"Already I can see huge improvement just working for the first two weeks," says Estes-Taylor, whose squad opens the season at the Suzie Maxwell Berning Classic later this month. "And she's such a sponge. She wants to learn, and she works hard, all the things you dream about having in a kid on your team."
"College is a whole new world," Tubert says. "I don't go in with many expectations. I just want to go out, have a good time and see how good I can become."
Photo by Robert Walker/USGA