Presented by U.S. Bank.
Gabrielle Gibson only plays the game of golf one way...aggressively.
The redshirt junior from Temecula, CA, and her Cowgirl teammates are in the middle of the Mountain West Championship being played at the Dinah Shore Tournament Course at the Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, CA.
“I’m the one who goes for it on the par fives,” says Wyoming’s most consistent player. “I don’t lay up, I’m willing to take the risk. If I’m aggressive, I feel better. But at the same time I have to think more about course management, and do a better job. That’s where I have to improve my game. I understand there’s a balance, and that’s what I’m working on, but I still like taking the chance.”
With a year left in her Cowgirl career, “GG”, as she is affectionately known among her teammates, is tied for the best career stroke average in school history. She also owns a share of the program’s lowest individual event score which she accomplished last year at the DU Ron Moore Intercollegiate tournament.
While GG says she “cried for a week” when Head Coach Josey Stender told her she thought it would be best for her to redshirt. It didn’t take her long to realize that it could be the best thing for her. She put that time to good use. “Once I got past the initial ‘hurt’ I turned it into a positive,” she says. “I practiced and practiced, became great friends with my teammates, and became a better player.”
She also made the most of that year in the classroom. A two-time Academic All-Mountain West performer (she likely will be named for a third time following this season), Gibson graduated in three years with a degree in communications. She is currently working on her master’s degree in communication while doing an internship for the athletics department’s video department. “That redshirt pushed me to want to graduate in three years,” she says. “It was great motivation, deep down I wanted to prove something to everyone, and myself.”
While Gibson plans to get her card and play professionally (“I’m going to have to improve my putting”) she eventually wants to enter the world of sports broadcasting. She certainly has the personality for it. A people person to the max, GG would love to do the on-camera thing. “I think being an athlete gives me a good perspective,” she says of her goal. “I have really enjoyed my internship and feel like sports broadcasting is my long-range goal. While I would love the on-camera side, the production side would be fine too.”
Gibson actually was introduced to golf by her Dad (Glenn) in the third grade, she admits it really wasn’t her thing until high school. “I honestly really didn’t like golf at first. I played soccer, softball, volleyball and competed in track,” she says. “As far as golf, I was a late bloomer. But I realized I had the physical ability to be good at it if I worked hard enough. The swing came easy for me, but like most everyone it was the mental part of the game where I really had to train myself. I feel I have made progress in that area, and I’m more level-headed on the golf course. I think I do a pretty good job of controlling my emotions.
“In high school I felt like I had a good chance to be a solid player. I worked really hard to give myself an opportunity to earn a Division I scholarship. I really felt like golf was the sport that would give me that opportunity.”
She credits her parents (Kendy and Glenn) as “the best support system anyone could hope for”. She most appreciates that they let her make her choices. “They have always been there for me without pushing too hard. They have let me do my thing, and I consider myself very lucky because of that.”
Her parents come to a lot of the Cowgirls’ tournaments. “When I see my family on the course it relaxes me,” she says. “I really appreciate that they don’t ‘coach’ me. They are there for support only.”
Gibson is certainly aware of golf’s positives and as a vehicle to obtain a college education. “Traveling to warm places to play golf, what’s not to like,” she grins. “But it’s a difficult game that requires constant adjustment because of the courses and the weather. It’s a mental game. But long ago I told myself to have fun and enjoy it. It’s super important to have fun. We’re all going to have bad shots and bad rounds, but it’s got to be fun. Sometimes I get too result-driven. When that happens I have to remind myself, or be reminded, to focus on the process. The pressure, the adjustments are all there. Golf is a wonderful challenge.”
Gibson admits that the real pressure for her is playing against her teammates each week to make the lineup for the next tournament. “I’m a lot more nervous playing against them than when I’m in the actual tournament.”
The obligatory question of why would a young woman from California choose Wyoming to play golf produces an easy answer from Gibson that sounds like a college recruiter. “I wanted a change of scenery. I grew up in California, and it was great to be able to play golf there. But this university, its school spirit, the athletics program and the support and the academics were all a fit for me.
“Wyoming was my last recruiting trip. I came on the weekend of the football Border War so that was enough right there. But I liked the smaller town, I liked the college vibe. Then our family went into a grocery store, and we couldn’t believe how friendly everybody was. I think my dad wanted me to come here all along, because he knew a lot about Wyoming. But didn’t say anything. When I told them I was coming here, he just smiled.
“I will always remember the people here. I will miss them the most because they are so genuine. They actually care. Coming from California, so many care about themselves.
“I’m super fortunate I found Wyoming.”