NORMAN, Okla. -- U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links contestant Clariss Guce might have some extra incentive to play well this week. That’s because her caddie is her college coach, and that coach just happens to be Annie Thurman Young, the 2002 WAPL champion.
Young, a former All-American and Big 12 Player of the Year at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, is happy to return to the Sooner State. And her young charge, a senior at California State University-Northridge, is happy her coach is by her side for this week’s national championship for public-course golfers.
“She can still beat me and she gives me confidence when I’m out here,” said Guce. “Plus, she said if I win a tournament, I get a rematch.”
Young‘s prolific achievements extend beyond her legacy as a USGA champion; she also earned the decisive point for the USA in the 2004 Curtis Cup. A member of the Oklahoma State women’s team from 2001-2005, she turned professional and played in events on both LPGA and LPGA Futures Tours (now named Symetra Tour), with the hope of getting full-time status on the LPGA Tour.
When that didn’t happen, Young was named the head women’s golf coach at Oklahoma State, where she worked from 2009-2011. She became the head women’s coach at CSUN in 2012.
Young was always a hyper-competitive player who hated to lose, but this week, the coach says she is happy to be a caddie with new perspective.
“When you are playing, you think it’s the only thing in life,” said Young, 30, who now lives in Santa Clarita, Calif., north of downtown Los Angeles. “Now, I have a different view and the goal is to make it easy golf.”
Easy, as in low-stress and enjoyable – an approach she is trying to share with her college players.
Young regained her amateur status a few years ago after playing professionally for 3½ years. She hopes to compete again, but she is no longer interested in the weekly traveling lifestyle of a touring pro. She and husband Caleb Young also hope to start a family.
Driving into the Jimmie Austin OU Golf Club this week for the WAPL brought back a lot of memories for Young. She has met contestants of all ages, from the U.S. and around the world.
“All ages and all kinds of people can be successful here,” she said. “That’s what’s special about amateur golf.”
One thing Young says she will make sure Guce understands is the value of her experience at the WAPL. Her own experience at the championship was a career-impacting event.
“I didn’t realize how big it was at the time,” she said. “I got more opportunities after winning this tournament, and making the U.S. Curtis Cup team was one of them -- which was the highlight of my career.”
Young’s playing career is not over, and Guce might have to face her coach in amateur competition in the near future.
Until then, Guce will focus on winning a championship somewhere to force her coach into a rematch. And the former WAPL winner, no doubt, will be ready as ever.
Lisa Mickey is a Florida-based freelance writer who has previously contributed to USGA websites.