Watch: Paige Spiranac. Callaways Hot Prospect

We can’t take our eyes off Paige Spiranac. We ignore, despite our best efforts, the stunning Troon North golf course that stretches out beyond the window into the vast arid scrub brush, past natural ravines and into the rolling foothills that bask in the shadow of Pinnacle Peak. We dismiss the grandeur of the mighty Sonoran Desert, it’s arroyos, sun-backed washes, huge saguaros, mesquite trees and ironweed landscapes. It all sort of withers away into a blurry background, accidentally overwhelmed by the infectious personality of the 22 year old golfer from Monument, Colorado. She’s radiant. She’s warm. She has a smile that could end a war. And she’s one helluva golfer.

Her personal best is a 10-under-par 62. She has twice shot a 65 in competition. She’s sunk three holes-in-one. In April, she helped her team capture the Mountain West Conference Women’s Championship. Three months later, she went on to secure a solo victory by winning the 100th edition of the Colorado Women’s Match Play. The newly turned pro comes from athletic stock: her father played college football, her mother danced ballet professionally and her older sister, Lexie, was a heptathlete and rower at Stanford. And with a slew of viral videos online, and over 500,000 Instagram followers, Paige is also the Internet’s favorite golfer (it’s not hard to see why).

How did you get into golf?

Golf was kind of a Plan B, you could say. I was a competitive gymnast. I started that when I was 6 and did it until I was 12. I really wanted to go to the Olympics and I was training seven hours a day, six days a week. And then I fractured my kneecap twice and had a couple of really bad injuries and it kind of forced me out of gymnastics. And one day my dad was like, ‘Hey, like, you should try golf.’ And so, I hit the first golf shot, loved it right away, and then did that all through Junior Golf, and then went to San Diego State and played college golf there.

So your Dad was the inspiration behind you kind of getting involved in it?

Yeah, I don’t really come from a big golfing family, my parents were more into tennis, and so I actually tried tennis first, and didn’t like it that much, and then golf. But, yeah, he definitely was the main person who got me into golf at first.

OK, cool. And at what age did it stop being a recreational sport. When did you actually realize you could make a career out of it?

Well, as soon as I started, really. I was brought up to never really do anything unless you do it full out. Coming from my gymnastics background, I was used to training really hard, so then when I switched to golf, it was really just like, ‘Ok, I’m going to make it.’

Can you tell us a little bit more about your University playing days?

I had a great experience at San Diego State. The girls there are like family to me. And I still have a great relationship with my coach. I was team captain my Junior and Senior year, so it was a big part of my experience there at school.

How much emphasis do you place upon your practice game?

My parents taught me to work as hard as I can every day, because nothings handed to you. I’m out on the range for hours, and then I’ll go play. Fitness is also a really big part of my life, too, so I work out in the morning, practice, and then I’ll work out again at night.

Is there a specific part of your game that you concentrate on the most?

Yeah, I love short games. Anything around the green, like chipping, bunker shots, flop shots, anything like that. There’s so much creativity involved: you can have a basic chip shot that you can hit a million different ways, and I really love that part of it. But I also love hitting my driver, you know if you’re ever having a bad day, there’s nothing better than just going and hitting like a million drivers.

Do you feel that your short game is the strongest part of your game because of that?

Yeah, it definitely is. I probably shouldn’t practice my short game as much as I do but I just love it so much.

So what part of your game do you think needs the most work?

Probably just believing in myself. Golf is all about confidence. You need to believe that you can do it: you can hit the fairway, hit the green, you can make the putt. And I think I lack that a little bit.

What is your ultimate goal, professionally?

Obviously I want to make it on the LPGA Tour, but I just want to work as hard as I can and see how far I can take it. It’s really hard to make it, so I just want to play as much as I can and hopefully it all turns out.

I’m sure it will. What kind
of steps do you have to to take to get to the LGPA tour?

There are two ways to go about it. They have qualifying school where you have to make it through each stage to get your tour card, and they also have the Semetra Tour, which is a tour right underneath the LPGA Tour. So you can play there and earn your card through being on top of the money list.

Just how important is health and fitness to you?

To me, it’s everything. I know that I can’t compete at a high level both mentally and physically, if I’m not physically fit, or if I’m not eating right, and so I make sure every day that, I’m eating good foods and going to the gym. People don’t really consider golf a sport, but it’s hard!

If you could change two or three things about golf culture what would they be?

I think making it more exciting in any way possible. I love when you see players interacting with the fans and trying to, you know, get them to cheer them on. I think that’s great because football, hockey, baseball; they all have fans that are cheering, they’re excited to be there. With golf they just stand there and they clap when they’re supposed to clap, and I feel like if they had more fan interaction, then people would be more excited and actually go out to tournaments.

So, really, just fan interaction?

Yeah, I think that would make a big difference. When I was still a gymnast, Juli Inkster threw me a golf ball at a golf tournament and I will never forget that moment.

You recently teamed up with Callaway. Are these sort of signings the fuel that you need to achieve more success in the game?

I’ve always loved Callaway. They’re a great company, so to be with them and sign with them, is a huge honor. I want to do my best to be a good representation of what they want as a Callaway player and so I want to keep working hard so that I can get out on tour and hopefully represent them a little bit more.

“Golf was kind of a Plan B, you could say. I was a competitive gymnast. I started that when I was 6 and did it until I was 12. I really wanted to go to the Olympics and I was training seven hours a day, six days a week.”

Aside from golf, and aside from health and fitness, could you tell us something about Paige that we don’t already know?

I love comic books. Everyone’s usually pretty surprised to hear that, but I love going to comic book stores, and all my friends are pretty into it, so it’s something we all do together.

So it would be fair to say
you’re a bit of a nerd?

I am the nerdiest, dorkiest person ever. People never really expect it, but that’s what I love.

Instagram and social media fame has had a big effect on your life. What does Instagram mean to you?

Instagram mean to you? It’s funny how this whole thing started. I didn’t really have any social media until senior year. I just wanted to document my senior year as a way to share with people and now I’m still sharing with people, it’s just with a larger audience. I think that’s kind of cool, that I can document my journey now, making it on tour with all these people. So it’s been crazy but it’s been great.

So you touched on your dad kind of being your inspiration and why you got handed a golf club, but can you talk about how important your friends and family are to both your life and also your career?

My family is everything. They have sacrificed so much for me so I work as hard as I can every single day so I can hopefully give back to them everything that they have given to me. And I know I wouldn’t be the person that I am today without my mom and my dad and my older sister, they’re all incredible people. And my friends, too. I need a really strong support system and my friends have been there for me and they have been great and I don’t know if I could have gone through any of this without them.

That’s so cool. Thank you so
much, Paige.

Thank you!