From the archive

How Rachel Heck got beloved teammate Rose Zhang ‘out of her shell’

March 27, 2024

David Cannon

A few months back, Golf Digest described Stanford's Rachel Heck as being “hotly tipped as a future LPGA star.” There’s no doubt that Heck has the talent and wherewithal to become one of the top pros in the game, but she’s decided to move away from golf and begin a career in private equity after becoming an Air Force lieutenant. That’s the definition of a Renaissance woman if you ask us. We have no doubt Rose Zhang would say the same thing.

Two-time NCAA DI champion and immediate LPGA winner Zhang couldn’t stop praising Heck during her profile with us at the end of 2023. Two golfers aren’t going to get much closer than one carrying the other’s rib bone in their bag. Yes, that’s a true story.

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The two became thick as thieves in their late tween years at the AJGA Ping Invitational at one of Zhang’s early tournaments. “Rose was 12, and I was 13,” Heck explained. “She was so quiet, and I made it my goal to get her to come out of her shell because this was one of her first invitationals! I got her out of her shell.

“On the course, she’s so composed, so in control. Off the course, she’s goofy, she’s super awkward and clumsy. She’ll just trip over things. She’s hilarious. She’s texting me right now, actually. I told her I was going to do an interview about her, and I was going to say horrible things.”


Christian Petersen

Being able to turn goofiness on and off is critical for a friendship, especially one that has resulted in a good deal of victories. The dynamic duo won as teammates, leading Stanford to the highest of stages, and as competitors. Heck became the first Stanford woman (and ninth freshman) to win an NCAA title in 2021. Zhang won last year’s Augusta National Women's Amateur. The first person to greet her after the historic win? No surprise there.

“Even when we’re on the course, we never talk about golf,” Heck told Golf Digest. “We just talk about normal stuff like boys and classes and life. She’ll be like, ‘Oh, my God, I did the most embarrassing thing today,’ and she’ll just giggle.”

Heck may not be adding any LPGA trophies to her already overflowing case, but whenever Zhang wins (and they’re coming fast), a little piece of that victory will be Heck’s as well.