Lizette Salas’ love for golf has grown almost as quickly as her career itself. Born to Mexican immigrants in the United States and raised in Azusa, California, Salas, 26, grew up playing golf with her father and other male golfers. It wasn't until her time at The University of Southern California that Salas first played with other female golfers. In her senior year at USC, she realized she had the potential and talent to turn her love of golf into a career in professional sports.
Since joining the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA), Salas’ career been on the rise. “To play amongst the best and to be considered amongst the best is even more shocking," said Salas. From her first LPGA victory at Kingsmill Championship in 2014 to earning a spot to play against the top 12 European golfers just this past September, Salas’ victories have earned her over $1 million in career earnings.
We chatted with this Inspiring Latina about her career, family and about how she plans to help young Latinas discover their potential:
How did your love for golf start and when did you decide you wanted to do it professionally?
Well I started playing golf at the age of seven. My dad has been working as a head mechanic at a golf course in Azusa, California, for I’d say about 35 years now. He just took me to work one day, handed me a golf club, and thought it was a way to spend time together. I started playing in tournaments at the age of 10. It wasn’t really until I was about 15 where I really fell in love with the game. I got a really spectacular score and thought it was a great way to go to college first. When I got to college, I started gradually getting better and becoming one of the top players in the country. Probably my senior year is when I really pursued turning professional. After I graduated in 2011, my dad and I just hopped in his truck and started traveling across the country, playing in tournaments. And, finally got on the LPGA tour in 2011. Just traveling the world watching the golf ball go around is pretty incredible.
Would you say that your dad is one of your biggest inspirations?
Oh definitely. He would go to work early in the morning and would come home late. He was super tired, but he would still would want to take me to the golf course. He really wanted to give me an opportunity to do something with my life. He wasn’t necessarily my golf instructor, but he knew people that could help me along the way. He was right there by my side. Being an immigrant from Mexico, he really had that hard work ethic because he had to start from the bottom. He really showed me and my siblings how to work hard and how to sacrifice in order to get things done. He, along with my mom, are my biggest role models for sure.
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