This article originally appeared in the July 2012 issue of Scottsdale Health.
Professional golfer Allison Micheletti grew up in a home focused on sports. Her father, Joe Micheletti, a former pro-hockey player, showed Micheletti and her brother early on what it took to become a professional athlete. She always assumed she would become a pro athlete, but she never imagined it would be with golf. In fact, she didn’t take up the
game until she was 17-years-old. Today, at just 24, she is already on the professional circuit.
Allison began her athletic career playing basketball and soccer. She had her life mapped out: attend the University of Connecticut as a two-sport athlete. All of that changed at the start of a basketball game when she was just 16. A torn ACL threatened to dash her hopes for a pro athlete career. Her doctor suggested she take up golf or swimming and leave the basketball court and soccer field behind.
At the time, Allison and her family were living on a golf course and her dad played occasionally. She decided to try it and would sneak onto the course and practice putting. “A lot of 17-year-olds would have thought their lives were over after that kind of injury,” says Allison, “but coming from an athletic family, I didn’t think that way. My dad is such a good role model in my life. He always helped me realize that as an athlete, you have to accept that injuries are a part of it.” She said it wasn’t always easy, but her family’s support helped her get through it and helped her decide to embrace golf. “I knew I was never going to be the basketball player I was,” she explained. “If I couldn’t be the best, I wasn’t going to do it.”
Allison took up golf at 17 and in the past seven years, she has spent every possible moment trying to learn the game and become the best golfer possible. As with everything she does, Allison has thrown herself into her golf career. During her senior year in high school, she played in just a handful of tournaments but still sent her resume to the top 50 US colleges with golf programs. “I wanted a chance to work for a team. I knew I could do it and I knew I could make it a career,” Allison explains.
Furman University in South Carolina accepted Allison and she began her studies and her golf game there. After a year-and-a-half at Furman, and some time regrouping at home in St. Louis, she moved to Scottsdale to devote herself full time to her game – and her career. Allison turned pro in 2011 and works with CBS golf analyst Peter Kostis to keep improving her golf game. Allison enjoys playing golf in Scottsdale, even though she leaves during the summer months so she can continue to play where it is cooler.
For Allison, the key is practice. On a typical day, she is up by 5:30, runs, then heads to the course where she practices and plays for 7 to 8 hours before heading to the gym. All of that hard work brought her interesting attention during last year’s Arizona Women’s Open. The producers of The Golf Channel’s Big Break program were interviewing in Arizona for contestants for their next show. Allison was playing in the tournament and did not try out. The show’s representatives approached her for an interview. She was notified soon after that she had been selected as a contestant on Big Break Atlantis.
Allison accepted and went to the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas this past spring to compete with 11 other female golfers for a prize package that includes a 2012 LPGA Kingsmill Championship Tour exemption; Adams Golf Endorsement contract which includes $10,000 cash; $10,000 at Dick’s Sporting Goods; an Atlantis, Paradise Island Vacation Getaway for two; a $10,000 Avis Car rental credit; and fully exempt status and all entry fees covered for a full season on the Symetra Tour. The winner will be announced on the Golf Channel in July.
Allison says that the friendships she made on the show are more important than any amount of money. “It mirrored real life much more than I originally thought it would,” she says, “but it is intense. People see the emotions when they watch the show and don’t understand. They think it’s just a television show. But you are kept away from everyone and everything for three weeks.”
The most difficult part of filming Big Break for Allison was the grueling “on mic” schedule. The women wore microphones from 4 a.m. to midnight every day and cameras followed them everywhere for the entire three weeks. That made the time away from the cameras extremely special and memorable. The best part of the experience for Allison was two-fold. On the course, she particularly enjoyed the challenges. They were unique and rewarding. Off-course, her favorite times were in the evenings, when all the contestants would get together over dinner and hang out. It is a testament to their friendships that the girls continue to communicate. Recently on Twitter, several of the contestants used the hashtag friendsforlife when tweeting each other. Allison says she would do it again in a heartbeat.
Allison doesn’t look too far into the future right now. She plans to attend LPGA Qualifying School in September and the European Tour Qualifying School. She would love to play an entire tour in Europe. Allison isn’t afraid to go up against the big guns in the industry. “If you’re afraid to go up against the best players in the world, then you shouldn’t be playing,” she says. However, she also knows it is her first year as a pro and that she has to take things one step at a time.
For the more distant future, Allison says her biggest problem is that she “wants to do it all.” She highly values education and is interested in communications and writing. She would also like to have a family someday. Right now, though, she is focusing on golf. “I want to put everything into golf right now,” she explains. Her golf dream is to play St. Andrews in Scotland, considered by many to be the birthplace of golf.
Allison believes her golf career has made her a better person. “It teaches me patience and makes me humble,” she explains. “If you fail, it’s your own fault. You have to take responsibility for yourself.” She says that the mental challenges of golf have been far more difficult to master than the physical challenges. “There is no perfect game,” she insists. “You are always in a battle of the mind. In the end, the person who reacts the best makes the best choices and plays the best game.”
As a female athlete in a traditionally male-dominated sport, Allison says the most difficult thing for women is laughing with the competition after a game. Women have a harder time leaving the game on the course. If she has any advice for young girls just starting out in the sport, it is not to give in to the ugliness in the world. “It’s so easy to get caught up in all of the negativity,” she says. “They just need to persevere and push through it. The person who pushes through it makes it.”
Allison laughs to break the somber mood after imparting her sage advice. “I don’t know, I’m still looking for the answers.” It seems that when you are as dedicated as Allison Micheletti to asking the questions and working as hard as she is to make things happen, that the answers will fall into place.