Winter in Ohio is, well, cold. Snowmen and pro golfers usually don’t cohabitate very well. But I’m here in Ohio, and I’m sure there are a few other pros braving northern landscapes this winter as well. Don’t worry – we are okay! I have rarely been a person to take the obvious road to anywhere, and so it goes with my golf career as well.

I’ve played professional golf since 2013, and over the course of my career, I’ve competed in a handful of LPGA tournaments, one US Open, and two State Opens that I won. Beyond that, I’ve been grinding to make cuts on the Epson Tour, which fields around 140 of the most talented LPGA Tour hopefuls from over 20 countries around the world. It’s stiff competition—a bit like hungry piranhas circling for an opening to feed.

Deciding to take a break from playing professionally was hard, but unless a golfer can make it through the frenzy and onto the LPGA Tour—or has a stable sponsor—exerting the necessary resources to continue financially, emotionally, and physically is intense. At some point, I realized I wanted to start laying the groundwork for other potential careers.

I was curious to explore my passion for storytelling and mentoring young players, so when I was presented the opportunity to pursue a master’s degree in Journalism and work as a Graduate Assistant Golf Coach at Ohio University, I found a sweet fit for the next phase of my life.

So, in 2016, I moved from North Carolina—Go Heels!—back home to Ohio to coach it up, drink coffee, write papers, and get in touch with my rural roots.

My graduate assistantship was an incredible learning experience, and it isn’t surprising that it’s actually a fairly common path for former professional players to take, even if those who coach rarely wind their way back to competitive golf after coaching. Regardless of where my future road leads, I will always be grateful to the Bobcats for putting me through graduate school and giving me the opportunity to work with some of the most incredible collegiate golfers I’ve ever known.

As much as I enjoyed coaching, when I finished my degree, I knew I wanted to play professional golf again. But what made me think that I could make it onto a bigger stage this time?

Well, grad school-summer, I fired up my Batmobile (which is much cooler than just saying I got in my Prius) and entered an LPGA Monday qualifier. On a particularly drizzly day in far off Kitchener, Canada, all that stood between me and a chance of qualifying for my first ever LPGA event was sinking a 15-foot putt. I had been putting better than usual that day, and I had a good feeling I would drain it as I watched it roll towards the hole. Then, BOOM! In. The. Hole.

Later that week, on cut day at the LPGA Manulife Classic, I watched another putt, this time a 60-footer, trickle down a gnarly tiered green and fall into the hole. Then, I finished off my two-round, two-under performance with a nervy up and down. Despite the odds, I had done it! I made my first LPGA cut on the number and actually made a nice paycheck that week.

From that point forward, I truly have felt like I have what it takes to play competitively in a way that I haven’t felt in the past.

I used to think of myself as a solid Epson Tour player, but now, I feel the difference between the LPGA and the Epson Tour is closing, and I am left wondering more than ever if my best stuff is yet to come.

There’s only one way to know for sure.

Like most, what we strive for is rarely presented as a clear and easy path. Instead, the road tends to snake and overlap with little stumbles and triumphs mixed along the way.

You can probably relate to wanting to make your comeback, and that your best stuff is yet to come too. Maybe, like me, you’ve had the chance to take a detour and now you’ve found yourself ready to go after it again. You’re buying self-improvement books, cranking out crunches, yearning for yoga . . . Let’s go already.

So, without further delay, hello! My name is Allie White. Some people call me A-Dog, A-Train, Little Bob . . . feel free to mix it up. It’s going to be fun shaking off my rust on the links and writing in a non-academic setting. (It’s just great to be able to use an exclamation mark again!)

In this series, follow along with updates on how my season is going, check out my thoughts on coaching, and what life is really like inside the ropes.

But for now, with winter here in the stoic Appalachian foothills of southern Ohio, there’s still a bit of time before I get to tee off in a golf tournament. As I prepare for what lies ahead, I think in the end, there may be a real satisfaction in knowing that “you did it your way” like Sinatra. And that you gave it your best, like the 2018 Browns (we are back!).

So, with that, I wish you a great journey back to whatever it is that’s calling you, and I look forward to sharing my journey no matter where it takes me.