Nishtha Madan’s Journey to Professional Golf
PHOTO BY NOAH MONTGOMERY
My professional career certainly did not begin the way I had imagined. With a collegiate season being cut short one day and learning that Q-school was cancelled the next, the uncertainty of everything dawned on me. I was at a very important turning point in my life and frankly another curveball was the last thing I needed. For someone who loves a plan and a schedule, this unforeseen circumstance brought many mixed emotions. Through this whole roller coaster, I came to the conclusion that it was time for me to start my professional career and make the jump to professional golf. While the NCAA gave athletes the option to return for another year of eligibility, I recognized that my game was on an upward trajectory and I wanted to use that momentum to transition to professional golf. I decided that it was something I did not want to delay further and it would be the next decision I would make.
With the help and support of my team and family, in a matter of three days I graduated from college, spontaneously decided to pack up (most) of my life in my car and headed to Arizona to compete in the only tour active during this pandemic. From excitement to stress to doubt to happiness, I was just about feeling everything about my decision to embark on something I’ve essentially worked my whole life towards, i.e., professional golf.
As an amateur golfer making the transition, the challenges, curveballs and unknowns brought on by this pandemic have been difficult to navigate without a doubt. However, it has also been a blessing in disguise. I was fortunate enough to be able to compete on the Cactus Tour while most other tours were suspended.
The most amazing factor about this journey thus far is that every week had its own highlight. The biggest highlight of all was to be able to compete with LPGA Tour and Symetra Tour players in my first three starts. In my eyes, this was the biggest advantage and learning opportunity that I would not have experienced in a “normal” setting.
Competing with them, talking to them, observing them and learning from them at the very beginning of my career is the most invaluable experience I could ever receive. To be able to put myself in contention with seasoned tour players in just my second event at the Michigan Women’s Open was another major highlight for me. While there is still a long road ahead, seeing myself atop the leaderboard is something that was extremely encouraging early in my journey as a professional.
In my most recent event hosted by the Cactus Tour, I competed with the likes of Anna Nordqvist and Alena Sharp. As a junior, Anna Nordqvist was my favorite golfer and to be able to play in the same field as her was a “fan-girl” moment. At the end of the tournament, sitting in a room with athletes who are in a position that I aspire to be in was inspiring and motivating to say the least.
While the process thus far has been far from ideal or normal, coming out of a pseudo off-season and simply having the opportunity to play golf and compete again is something I am grateful for every day. In a way, I learned how passionate I am about the sport and that this is what I truly want. It has been a wild ride so far and I cannot wait to see what the future holds!
BY NISHTHA MADAN ON JULY 13, 2020
About the Author
Nishtha Madan is an Indian Professional golfer who graduated from California State University, Sacramento in 2020 with a degree in Psychology. She declared herself as a professional golfer in May and currently competes on the Cactus Tour.