Elizabeth Szokol: My Journey—Awareness
While LPGA Tour pro Elizabeth Szokol may make golf look easy, her path to success has been anything but straightforward. The Winnetka, Ill. native was an injury-prone athlete from the start, experiencing her first knee surgery at age 12 after playing softball and tennis. Ironically, the downtime helped her discover a new favorite sport, which she took up at 14. “Finding golf was really helpful to me and gave me something to be competitive in and focus my energy on,” says Szokol, who attended a large public high school that had a girls’ golf team. “I know a lot of other girls didn't have that opportunity, so I was really lucky.”
Wherever Szokol has played golf, she’s risen to the challenge. After leading her high school team to the 2010 Illinois State Championship, she attended Northwestern University in nearby Evanston where she cracked the starting lineup freshman year in 2012—the same year she became the Illinois Women’s Amateur Champion. As a college sophomore, she made the Academic All-Big Ten and the Second Team All-Big Ten, and helped Northwestern finish 15th in the 2014 NCAA Championships. Then she transferred to the University of Virginia and continued excelling, landing on the Atlantic Coast Conference Women’s Golf All-Academic Team her senior year.
After college, Szokol started playing professionally on the Symetra Tour and became a first-time winner in her second year at the 2018 IOA Invitational. She ended her rookie season with 10 top-20 finishes, including four top-10s in her last five starts. In her first year on the LPGA Tour, she made 10 of 20 cuts and tied for sixth at the 2019 Ladies Scottish Open. All along the way, she’s been a minority on Tour—something she views as an opportunity. “I’m very proud to be Jewish,” she says. “There are not many other Jewish professional golfers, but I found two (Jewish tour player) friends to go to different synagogues and temples with wherever we are in the country. It’s definitely a unique experience that I would not have gotten if I wasn't playing golf professionally.”
One of Szokol’s personal goals is to eventually play Israel’s two golf courses. Her situation serves as motivation to partner with Aon, a company dedicated to being inclusive of people of varying races, religions and backgrounds. “Awareness is important,” says Szokol. “I’m very lucky to partner with Aon. The company’s creating equal prize money between the LPGA and PGA Tours for the Aon Risk Reward Challenge. That $1 million for the LPGA Tour Challenge winner is incredible and very unique, and I’m very thankful to Aon for starting this initiative.”