As she began to plan her 2019 competitive calendar, Lauren Greenlief decided that this was the year to “double down” on her aspirations.
“I normally take an eight-week leave from work every other year, and this was the year to do that again,” said Greenlief, 28, of Ashburn, Va., during the 5th U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship last week at Timuquana Country Club in Jacksonville, Fla.
But Greenlief was also coming off a 2018 season in which she won her second consecutive Virginia Women’s Amateur and advanced to the quarterfinals of both the U.S. Women’s Amateur and U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur, a championship she won in her debut at age 25 in 2015.
The quarterfinal spot in the 2018 U.S. Women’s Amateur made her the first mid-am (age 25 and older) to advance that far in 12 years and marked her first time advancing to match play in six tries at that championship. It was time, Greenlief thought, to take her best shot at achieving some important career goals by doubling her planned 2019 work hiatus from eight to 16 weeks.
“This felt like the year to take extra time – to take four months and play the right way,” said Greenlief, who made the University of Virginia golf team as a walk-on and graduated in 2012. “I’m really excited about seeing if I can build on my world ranking, see how low I can get it.”
Greenlief climbed as high as No. 420 in the Women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking™ last August, and she now sits at No. 446. Her lofty goals include making the 2020 USA Curtis Cup Team and qualifying for the second edition of the Augusta National Women’s Amateur next April – or at least, as she puts it, “getting my name in the conversation.”
“I’m going all in on golf this year, which is exciting,” said Greenlief, who works as a management consultant. “My company is very supportive of it, and because it’s unpaid, it’s an easy decision for them. And when I go back to work, I’ll be refreshed, which is good for both of us.”
Greenlief and partner Katie Miller won the Women’s International Four-Ball last year in Wellington, Fla., and qualified for match play at Timuquana, but lost in the Round of 32. For Greenlief, it’s just the start of her competitive season.
“I saw some good things in my swing and putted well on tricky greens,” said Greenlief. “This being our first tournament since the International Four-Ball [in February] and playing under much tougher conditions, I will try and build from here.”
Greenlief shot 71-77 on Monday at Chartiers Country Club in Pittsburgh, falling seven strokes short in her bid to qualify for the 74th U.S. Women’s Open in three weeks at the Country Club of Charleston (S.C.). Later this month, she will attempt to qualify for the LPGA Tour’s Pure Silk Championship in Williamsburg, Va.
“I also plan to play in the North & South [at Pinehurst], the Eastern Amateur, the Southern Amateur – events I haven’t played in traditionally,” said Greenlief, who pointed out that the Ladies’ National Golf Association Championship (formerly the Trans-National) will be played at The Golf Club of Tennessee, where she made her strong run in the Women’s Amateur last August. “I think I’m going to be on the road every week from the first week of June through the Women’s Amateur [in early August].”
And just maybe, that road trip will lead to bigger destinations.