Marisa Messana is an aspiring LPGA Tour professional. The Florida native was a star for the women’s golf team at Clemson University, where she has a degree in communication, minor in entrepreneurship, and master’s in HR Development. Talk about accomplished. But her real aspiration for now is making the Tour. We caught up with her in September to find out how she’s progressing.
The recent LPGA Q-School wasn’t kind to you. What are you working on most diligently to give yourself your best shot at earning the playing privileges you want for 2022?
I had hoped and expected to advance, after having some good practice leading up to the event. But I do truly feel like my game is probably in the best place it’s ever been, which is crazy because I’ve made it through two years ago. And now I actually do feel like an even stronger player. So, I’m just trying not to get discouraged by the one round that took me out of contention in qualifying, and just keep working on my game. I’ll be able to pursue other avenues through Monday qualifying or other events that I can play in in order to gain the status.
What’s the biggest strength in your game right now?
It’s funny because I would say ball striking has always been my weakness and that’s why I put a ton of time into that leading up to the event, which the Roundabout app helped me with because it identified that that is where I’d get the most return on my investment – if I were to increase the stats in either that part of my golf game. So, I worked on that a lot leading up to the event and it ended up being one of my strengths. I was hitting the ball better than ever and improved my mechanics and my ball striking across the board. Now I just have to get my putting back to where I knew it can be and I’ll be rolling.
So, you need to improve your putting to get where you want to be?
It’s continually working on mechanics and now it’s also getting my short game back to where I know it has been in the past and I’m capable of playing from — because I know if I combine those two it’ll be a pretty stellar combination. It’s just a matter of making it all come together. It was very encouraging to know I can reach this level of play. Now, let’s see that and put it all together.
What has your practice and workout regimen been like over the past year?
It depends on whether I’m in a tournament week or not. In a tournament week, I practice my mechanics, maintenance and range work earlier in the week, and then I’ll transition more into play mode by the end of the week. That goes across the board, whether it’s a tournament week or not. And for workouts, I’ll do heavier and stronger workouts, and weight lifting earlier in the week, and then more mobility and bodyweight things towards the end of the week. I just try not to overwork myself, which is a tendency of mine in the past, to where it’s tournament time and I’m toast. I’ve definitely been able to gain a better awareness of how hard I can push myself but still be able to come back fresh the next day, and balancing both to be best prepared — but also knowing mentally and physically I need to be recovered in order to perform. I think that’s huge, especially with Q-School where people who practice, practice, practice a lot leading up to the event but then by the time the four tournament rounds come they’re toast. And being in Palm Springs this year, it was hot out there so you can get drained pretty quickly. I was able to balance that pretty well, I think.
What’s a typical practice day like, when you’re focusing on playing and performing your best?
I love starting my days with workouts. I get super excited to get my movement in and get the endorphins flowing, it makes me feel stronger, and also wakes me up and has all my muscles firing properly before I head to the course. I get up early for my workouts, and then go back and eat. To regroup for the day, I do a little bit of meditation and visualization between my sessions just to make sure that I’m super locked in and purposeful with whatever it is that I’m working on that day.
Leading up to Q school I was actually watching golf swings of some of the best players that I wanted to replicate my golf swing to look like. So that was a really good routine that I was able to use actually through the V1 Golf Plus app’s model swings. That was an awesome tool for me, just to visually see what I wanted to do so that I could go on to the range and work on whatever — for me it was always my sequencing. I guess my biggest focus leading up to Q school was to make sure that I was initiating my lower body, getting my left side through and then just rotating from the right side after impact. That was a large part of my time and then I’ll probably do a little bit of putting maintenance or take one portion of putting — whether that’s speed one day or line work that I need depending on where I’m at with my game that week. And then I’ll take it to the course and play, and try to get on the course as much as possible. Growing up for me, I was a little bit of a ranger — just practice all day. But I think you could do that all day and if it doesn’t translate, you’re not going to score.
So, I have to be super conscientious to get out there and put it into play as much as possible. I’ll play worst-ball golf — playing holes and then dropping an extra wedge shot on every hole to just really hone in on my wedge game because I think that’s super important for scoring which I found also through looking at my Roundabout app Performance stats. I’m able to see where I can execute and I found that par fives are super important to get my wedge proximity as close as I can and that way I can execute birdies from there and not have to put so much pressure on the 6-irons and clubs that might not be as sharp for the par four holes. So that’s the game plan that I was able to make, which my caddy and I definitely talk about a lot before the rounds, and then how we can best practice before tournament rounds in order to replicate what we’re going to do on the course. It’s a combination of knowing my game, looking at my stats, looking at past tendencies, and then making the best game plan in order to execute when it is tournament time.
What’s something you would advise average golfers to work on – either a swing fundamental or something fitness-related – to become a more complete player?
Your short game and putting because that’s what’s going to get the ball in the hole. You’re also going to need to work on your ball striking more, but at the end of the day putting is most important in order to translate into a good score. And fitness can really help your mechanics and ball striking, and what you need to do with your swing in order to execute on the course. Personally, the fitness side of it is pretty huge. Not all players are as invested in that, but it can really have a lot of benefits physically with strength, power, agility and even mentally having the endurance of getting through a round with focus.
When you play in pro-ams or with amateurs, what’s something they all seem to do incorrectly?
Fundamentals — the simple things they do before they even start the swing are so important to take care of. They don’t have to recreate the wheel, it’s pretty simple fundamentals that are typically off. If they clean that up, they’ll set themselves up for success much better. Start with alignment.
What’s it been like building your presence on social media? Do you feel the support of the fans?
It’s been quite a journey over the past year or two, building my brand on social media. It could become a whole job in itself, so I definitely balance keeping my priority with my performance and the competitive side of my game, but also realizing that this is what I’m doing in order to fund my career right now. So, it’s all a part of the job and without the social media presence, I probably wouldn’t be able to play. So just being really conscientious about my time and segmenting the time that I have on the course to be super locked in and focus, and then also scheduling the time that I can sit down and work on my social media and making sure that I’m putting out content, to show people who I am and show what goes on behind the scenes in order for me to execute what I need to do on the golf course.
As long as I keep a healthy balance, which I am super conscientious about. It’s enjoyable to have other people seemingly be invested in the journey with me. My biggest goal is to help inspire other people along the way to say hey, this is what I do and if I can do it, you can do it. Let’s empower each other together, whatever journey it is whether you’re trying to become a professional golfer or any industry, the habits that I do really apply to anyone’s journey to excellence.
Away from the course, what occupies your time?
I am truly so obsessed with my craft that I tried to have my off-the-course time all kind of correlating with my work. For example, my workouts are based on the things I need to do for my golf game, but I also look at my workouts as leisure. I’ll do group workouts. Yesterday, there’s a group of former college athletes that all met up on Venice Beach and we did a beach workout together. It’s twofold: it’s work because it’s helping my golf but it’s also social time where it’s an outlet at the same time.
What are your business goals off the course?
Really just to continue to build my brand and then see what other companies are aligned with my goals and brand. And then help them however I can. If I’m building my own brand, I can have a personal brand, but then also be able to serve the larger corporations that have an audience or want the audience that I have as well. I’m also looking for any mutually beneficial opportunity for the company and the consumer — whoever it is they’re looking to attract. I’m happy to facilitate those introductions and especially through golf, it’s super common that I come across a lot of great businessmen and women who I can share my experiences with and develop relationships with. So, if there’s something that I know they need and I’m partnering with a company that could provide that service, it makes me so happy to be able to make those introductions.
What would constitute a successful 2022 for you?
Oh wow, this is week one of redefining what that’s going to look like. I’m definitely going to have to leap out a little bit. We’ll see what comes to fruition but it’s a balance again of staying on task and developing my game and getting the opportunities to play and earn status, and then executing when those opportunities are there. And then with that, finding the business partnerships and the positions that I can hold that can also support my career to keep it going. It’s the super beginning stages right now, and I’m trying to figure out what that avenue is going to be but I’m confident it’ll come together.
Follow Marisa’s golf journey on Instagram! ? @marisamessana