From mowing greens to reading them, Shockley’s a natural

Dawn Shockley’s introduction to golf was far from typical for someone who has risen from weekend hacker to a ranking of 81 in the country among collegiate golfers in just six years.

Her introduction wasn’t about lessons from top pros, not about the finer points of swinging a driver and not about seeing the line of a long and winding putt.

It was about mowing grass.

Shockley, who was raised by a single mother, worked at a golf course in Estes Park, Colo., to help make ends meet while in high school. What came next came naturally — the game of golf.

“I suppose I was lucky enough to have some natural talent and a natural swing, but I think my competitiveness helped a lot,” says Shockley, a junior geography major and Pioneers women’s golf standout who didn’t take up the game seriously until she was a sophomore in high school. “I hate losing at anything. I mean really hate it.”

“There’s no doubt she’s a fiery competitor who plays with a lot of competitive spirit,” says Sammie Chergo, head coach of women’s golf. “She’s improved steadily every year. Her strengths are her athleticism and her feel. She also has great touch with her putter and can feel and visualize shots very well.”

Shockley, whose performance this year helped the team enter the national championships for the second year in a row, says one of the best pieces of advice she ever got was from Chergo, who told her to trust her natural feel, touch and abilities.

Shockley also credits her mom for her success. “She did everything for me and took me everywhere I needed to go to play golf. She’s the biggest part of my life,” she says.

Another big part of her life before golf was basketball. In high school Shockley was a three-time all-state and all-conference basketball player. But golf eventually won out because, she says, she knew she had a better shot at being able to play collegiate-level golf.

She’s clearly proven she can hang with the best in college golf. As a freshman she was one of three players to play in all 11 of DU’s tournaments and finished the season third on the team with a 76.50 scoring average in 28 rounds. She also had 25 of 28 rounds count towards DU’s team total, the second-best mark on the team.

And last fall she placed first on the team in finishing percentage (82.5 percent) and second in average score (73.56).

When considering other reasons for her success, Shockley hesitates a moment, and then recalls working on that golf course in Estes Park. “Those were good days. I met a lot of nice people who helped me along the way,” she says. “The small town community really took me in and took care of me.”

The Pioneers women’s golf team is competing at NCAA National Championships May 20–23 in Albuquerque.

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