How golf has taken Laura Jones from New Brunswick to SFU

A sit down with one of the East Coast's best young golfers

(Photo courtesy of SFU Athletics)

Laura Jones had a very strong 2017 year when it came to golf, both individually and for the SFU team. Individually, she finished first at both the Bouctouche East Coast Junior Championship and New Brunswick (NB) Junior Girls Championship. She also finished second in the NB Women’s Amateur and CN Future Links Atlantic Championship. For SFU golf, her 2017 season was highlighted by a second-place finish at the Northwest Shootout. To get to know Jones, continue reading!

Fast Facts

Name: Laura Jones

Major: Health Sciences

Year: Sophomore (second-year)

Hometown: Moncton, New Brunswick

Sport(s) you play at SFU: Golf

Fun fact about yourself: I’m obsessed with mountains.

GPA: 4.26 (which, for those of you that don’t know, is nearly all A+s!)

Part A (Sports and athletics)

The Peak: For those who aren’t familiar with the sport you play, can you explain it for us?

Laura Jones: Sure. Golf is pretty straightforward, the main objective is to get a little white ball into a hole in the ground in as few strokes as possible, using any of your 14 clubs. Each club has a different face angle, allowing you to hit the ball varying heights and distances. A full round is 18 holes, with each hole typically being a distance between 100 and 600 yards. At the end of the round, the score for each hole is added up and is related to the course par, which serves as a reference point for the difficulty of the course.

P: When did you first begin playing golf?

L: My dad’s an avid golfer so I’ve been around golf my entire life, but I only started to take it seriously around the age of 14. I thought it was pretty boring before then.

P: What drew you to the sport of golf?

L: What drew me to golf was the amount of people I met through it and the amazing friendships I made. Golf is a unique sport as it takes 4–5 hours to play, with a decent portion of that time spent walking and chatting with your playing partners. I found the competitive atmosphere super enjoyable, and quickly made some great friends that really got me hooked.

P: Have you participated in any sports/meets recently? If so, how did you do at them?

L: I competed in the first tournament of our spring season a few weeks ago. It was a little bit of a rocky start, but there were definitely many positives to pull away from the tournament, which is a promising sign so early in the season.

P: Do you have any practice or event superstitions?

L: I always hit at least one shot with every odd-numbered club in my bag.

P: What’s your favourite winter Olympic sport?

L: I’m not a huge fan on the winter Olympics, but I enjoy watching anything with cool flips. Figure skating is the first one that comes to mind.

Part B (Life in general)

P: What’s your favourite food/snack to have before a practice or game?

L: My dad’s homemade granola bars; I’ve got a huge stockpile in my dorm room fridge.

P: What does an average school/practice day look like for you (from the time you wake up, to the moment you go to sleep)?

L: My schedule is quite different depending on the day of the week, but my most common day [involves me] waking up at 6 a.m. and heading to an hour of team weight training. After that, I attend class for the morning, study in the afternoons, and practice at the driving range for 1–2 hours in the evening. When I get back to my dorm room I usually get another hour of studying in before heading to bed around 10:30.

P: How do you balance competitive athletics and post-secondary academics?

L: That’s something I’m always striving to improve, as it’s definitely not easy. For me, balancing the two takes a lot of self-discipline, as I often have to make sacrifices in other areas of my life. I try to use my time wisely by doing everything as efficiently as possible and staying organized, especially during midterms and finals when things get pretty crazy.

P: What drew you to the major you chose?

L: I really like how the program integrates various approaches to healthcare. The stream that I have chosen enables me to take a wide range of classes, with many being science-oriented like human pathophysiology and molecular biology, and others focusing on health care policy and ethics. Overall it seemed like a really well-rounded program that aligned with my interests and would provide a great foundation for whatever career I end up pursuing.

P: How do you keep yourself mentally, emotionally, and physically healthy with such a demanding schedule?

L: The biggest thing for me is making sure I’m getting enough sleep, that’s something I always try to prioritize. Other than that, I think it’s really about being self-aware, and being willing to give myself a break when I feel like I need one. I also make sure I dedicate time to maintaining relationships with friends and family, as that social connection is really great for my mental and emotional health.

P: What’s your favourite activity to do in down-time?

LJ: I don’t have too much down-time, but when I do, I try to spend time with my friends. Between semesters I’ll indulge in a few Grey’s Anatomy episodes, which is something I always look forward to.

Part C (Meaning and inspiration)

P: If you’re comfortable sharing, could you tell us about a challenge or challenging time (in relation to athletics or school life) you’ve faced recently, and how you dealt with it?

L: The first half of this past fall semester was definitely a challenging time for me. I put a lot of pressure on myself coming into the year and got overwhelmed by a few failures. I started to question whether or not I was going to be able to complete my degree as a varsity athlete, and strongly considered leaving the team to focus on school. After a lot of reflection, I came up with a list of specific things I needed to improve, which resulted in me completely altering my study habits. This was an interesting transition period for me but taught me some really valuable lessons that I am certain will follow me for the rest of my life. I also had some major changes in perspective, and substantially decreased the amount of pressure I was putting on myself, which has really helped my mental health.

P: Do you find there are challenges relating to being a female in a relatively male-dominated sport? (If you have any specific stories, feel free to share them). How do you cope with some of these gender difficulties?

L: I haven’t experienced many challenges with this, especially in recent years. However, when I first started playing junior tournaments around the age of ten, I was quite intimidated by the fact that there were usually one or two girls and 50 or 60 boys. I remember being on a putting green after a tournament round with a group of older boys, and I was so scared of being in their way that I didn’t hit a putt longer than a foot to ensure I wouldn’t miss the hole and have my ball roll near them. This intimidation eventually wore off, but it’s definitely a concern for young girls entering the sport.

P: What are some qualities that make a good golfer? Or more generally, a good athlete?

L: A good work ethic and the ability to control emotions. The second one is key in a sport like golf where there is so much time for your mind to wander and affect your game.

P: What advice would you give to younger athletes struggling to balance academics and sports?

L: Reach out to those who have gone through similar experiences to learn what has worked for them and see how you can improve. Even just hearing that others have been in your place and gotten through it is often really comforting.

P: What advice would you give to younger students, in general?

L: Be aware of how you’re spending your time, and how efficient you are when you are working. Try out different study techniques to find what works best for you and don’t be afraid of a few failures along the way, [as] they are what will direct you towards success.

P: If you could thank one (or more) person in your life, who would you thank, and what for?

LJ: [I would thank] my family members, who have played a huge role in supporting me to be where I am today. They’ve been there to celebrate successes, and have picked me up after heartbreaking failures, and I am so grateful for that. Also, my friends here at university and back home who keep me sane by making sure I don’t spend all my waking hours in the library, and who fill my days with laughter and joy.