“I’m big on school and I’m big on promoting the game to young people. It takes hard work and discipline to follow your dreams, but wherever you find your passion, if you stick to doing what you love, and if you work hard, anything is achievable.”
Niagara Parks is thrilled to have LPGA golfer Brittany Marchand as a golf ambassador, helping to inspire young women to explore the sport. Embracing the celebration of Women’s Golf Day, Marchand serves as a role model, teaching young women about the importance of education while integrating her talent and passion for professional sports.
Niagara Parks met with Brittany Marchand at its Legends on the Niagara facility to talk about her role as an ambassador and her success to date.
What led you to golf?
My grandpa got me started in golf when I was about seven years old. I didn’t really love it at first, but I ended up being at a club where there were quite a few girls which was rare at the time. I started going to meet with my friends and wanted to compete when I was about 12.
Why was education important to you?
I really liked math and science in high school. I was good in school so education was always important to me. I wanted to make sure when I went to study in university, I studied something I was really going to enjoy because you never know what can happen in sports. I wanted to have a backup I was really going to enjoy so that’s when I decided to study chemical engineering in university and I’m glad I did it.
How did you find a balance between school and golf?
It helped to do my degree in five years. From the beginning, I knew my coach wanted me to start playing right away, my freshman year so I didn’t want to register but, I also knew it was going to be a lot to do four years with both. I was really lucky to have good advisors at NC State that helped me manage my degree and move a lot of my lab-based classes that were time-consuming into my fifth year, that helped a lot so I could still travel with the team. Sometimes I sacrificed social life and sometimes I didn’t do well on a test because I was focusing too much on golf or vice versa so, it was definitely a balance and I got better at it (in my fifth year).
Family support must have been essential for you?
Family support is huge. My parents were the ones in the beginning who told me to study what I wanted to enjoy and to make sure I put education in the forefront to be with golf as well. It was always nice to know that my parents believed in me with both and there was really never any pressure, they just really wanted me to do well in whatever I did.
What made you decide to get involved with Niagara Parks?
One of the big things is to be a good role model for girls. My story was, I didn’t really love golf until I had other girls to do it with. I think that’s a big thing to be able to spread the message and to show what golf has to offer in the Niagara area and then also the women and girls in this area. It’s great if you have other women to do it with and not to be intimidated. It’s a great sport to try.
You have become a role model for young girls, what is your message to them?
Believe in yourself and work hard at whatever you want to do. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t achieve something. For me, there were a lot of people that didn’t agree with the degree I chose if I wanted to be serious with golf. There was a part of me that wanted to do it just to prove them wrong. If you have hard work and dedication you can really achieve anything!
Paint the picture of what it’s like when you step up to the tee.
The goal is to try to not have a lot going on in your mind when you’re stepping up to the tee. I feel like at this point it’s a lot more of a nervous excitement. Doing it for so long, the first few jitters get less and less as it goes. Obviously, when I was little it was a lot more stressful but now, I think it’s more of an excitement feeling which is great. If you’re not nervous, you probably don’t really care that much so I think it’s important to have a little bit of that nervous excitement.
What would you say was your biggest challenge along the way?
I would say time management and where to put my focus at what time. I think through college especially, and at the same time I was going to NC State and getting a scholarship to play there, I also got on the Canadian National team so my summer’s were busy as well, always travelling even though I had a full Fall and Spring schedule at school, I was constantly on the go and getting good at focusing on what I needed to do at that time, getting good at quality practice. Not maybe a lot of hours but being good when I was there and focusing. Same at school. When I was at school, focus on school, that was a huge part of it.
Who gave you the best advice and what was it?
Some of the best advice I was given in college was through a friend of mine who knew a professional golfer at the time, Lorena Ochoa who was one of the best in the world. She got to sit down and talk with her because she was from Mexico as well. We were talking about how Lorena had told her about how important it is to remember that everyone has their own path and yours may not look like the typical mold of a professional athlete but, to just follow your path and stick to it because you can still end up in the same place. That was really big for me at that time because it was assurance that I could still get to where I wanted to be, maybe it was going to be a bit later but still my way which is more authentic to myself.
Describe that feeling to be “on top”…to win, to be successful.
It’s amazing! It’s what I do this for, I feel like. I obviously love golf and I just love the game itself but to end up seeing your hard work pay off is one of the biggest things. Getting my degree at the end of five years was such a great feeling. To know all the hours you put in, all the work you put in to see it pay off is just great!
Do you feel pressure to continue to exceed now?
I think there is always going to be pressure. Like any great athlete you hit a certain point but, you still want more and people still expect more out of you and they expect you to be great all the time so I definitely feel that pressure once in a while, but the goal is to try to focus on the process and just doing what you can do now to continue and hope that it works in your favour.
What do you attribute your success to?
I’ve always had these little goals that I’ve wanted to reach, and it’s led me to my ultimate goal which is to get on the LPGA. I think staying process focused on all the small steps and achieving the small goals has led me to where I want to be now.
Where do you see yourself in the next few years?
I hope to still be playing in the LPGA. I’d love to have a win on tour. A goal of mine has always been to play in the Olympics for Canada especially now that golf is back in. I have a few milestones still to hit.