FARGO — The LPGA Tour is played all over the world, beginning the year in southeast Asia before heading over to Hawaii and California. Next month, for the first time in her five years as a professional, it’s coming to Amy Olson’s backyard.
Relatively speaking, Hazeltine National Golf Club in the Twin Cities is like a neighborhood course.
“There’s nothing like playing in front of your hometown crowd,” Olson said Wednesday. “I know a bunch of people from Fargo will be down there so I’m just excited to play in front of family, friends and fans.”
The Oxbow, N.D., native and North Dakota State graduate is a Fargo resident again after her husband, Grant Olson, was named a Bison assistant football coach in January.
She’s gotten a taste of the hometown feeling — in Arizona. When Olson plays in the Bank of Hope Founder’s Cup in Phoenix, she routinely attracts the northerner snowbird or vacation crowd. In fact, her most memorable moment on tour came last year when she hit a hole-in-one on the sixth hole at Wildflower Golf Club in Phoenix.
“I still get chills because it’s great to do those things but to be able to do it in front of people that you know, people that are rooting for you, is pretty special,” she said.
If only she can do that next month at Hazeltine. The KPMG Women’s PGA Championship is set for June 18-23. Olson is one of two players from the Midwest who will be competing in the major tournament.
Certainly, Olson expects the course to be set up like any other major — difficult. The rough is typically longer, the greens are faster and the yardage is longer.
And that’s fine with her.
“They really do make it challenging, but I love that kind of golf,” Olson said. “Par is a great score versus having to make a million birdies just to try and keep pace. I like the ones where sometimes grinding for a par is a big deal.”
It’s been a season of more than keeping pace. Olson has made eight of nine cuts, is 37th on the LPGA money list at $144,266 — eighth among U.S. players — and has surpassed $1 million in career earnings.
“In reality, if you’re keeping your card, you’re probably making enough to meet your expenses,” she said. “It’s very different from the guys. You look at the guys and anybody that keeps their card probably made a million dollars that year. It’s not something I watch real closely, there’s just not a whole lot you can do.”
The goal this year has ascended to making the Solheim Cup, the 12-member United States team that competes against Europe in a tourney that is similar to the Ryder Cup. Olson is currently 12th on the U.S. Solheim Cup points standings.
She has yet to play Hazeltine, which hosted the Ryder Cup in 2016. Olson did set foot on the property in 2002 when, as a 10-year-old, she got to watch the PGA Championship in person.
“Obviously the course has been redone since then,” Olson said. “I’m hoping to get down there before this tournament. I watched it on TV with the Ryder Cup so I’m excited to get my own feet on the ground there.”
This week, Olson has spent a lot of time on the Fargo Country Club grounds working on her short game. That’s the part of her game that has needed attention lately. Technically, she was using her arms too much and not relying on her shoulders to do the work.
“Ultimately it’s the number of reps,” she said. “The more you do it, the better you get. There’s always something to get better at; it’s what keeps us coming back no matter what level you’re at.”
Next month, fans only have to travel east on Interstate 94 to see Olson’s level of golf.