LPGA Tour player and member of the 2019 USA Solheim Cup team, Marina Alex, took to Instagram Live to answer fan questions while making a wonderful vodka pasta sauce. Read a transcript of her Q&A below and find everything you need to cook along with her at home. 

What advice would you give a young junior wanting to become pro?

I think the biggest thing is you have your believe in yourself, believe in your abilities, believe in your team around you. You really need to trust that everything that you’re doing are the right steps to get you there. And be patient. Everyone’s process is different. It took me a really long time to get to where I am and it takes some people not a lot of time at all. So you just need to understand that, and when you feel you’re trending in the right direction, you take advantage of that the best you can and be patient when you’re not playing your best golf.

What practice tips do you have for playing at home? What is your favorite part the game to practice?

Practice tips at home are tricky. It depends on what you have access to. If you have enough space to do mirror work, I really like doing that. Looking at my backswing positions and checking at my set-up front on, all that kind of stuff . . . it’s just a good visual reminder to see what you’re doing. And my favorite part of the game to work is probably short game just because there’s so much variety. I can do chipping, putting, bunker, pitches, out-of-the-rough type grass, all different clubs . . . it’s endless in the types of practice, and it can be a lot of fun.

Who is your favorite golfer?

I hope Webby is watching, but Karrie Webb is my favorite golfer. For anyone who knows me, I get made fun of all the time for it because I’m a big fangirl. But she is my favorite by far. I watched her growing up, and I think she’s the best.

Advice for Mental Strength?

It’s kind of different for everyone. One thing I learned from my coach especially is the importance of meditation and taking some time for yourself and being able to find a quiet place in your head. It’s tough. We have so much distraction—cell phones, iPads, everyone’s always on something or Facetiming, or doing so many different things, and a lot of time you’re not just able to be with yourself and your thoughts. And when you’re on the golf course, that’s a majority of your time. And if you’re not practicing that, it’s easy to lose. Especially under pressure and when you’re feeling nervous. There are things that make you uncomfortable, so it’s really important to practice mental strength. And also be kind to yourself. Golf is really hard, especially from a mental standpoint, so you can’t beat yourself up whenever you make a mistake or do something wrong.

What would be your favorite cuisine to make that you haven’t tried?

It would be something Korean. I love Korean food, and I honestly don’t know how to cook it. So many of my friends do, and I would like to learn how to do more of the intricate stuff, especially like a Kimchi stew or making a pajeon seafood pancake; those are two of my favorite things, and I would like to be able to know how to do it on my own.

Who is your favorite golf course designer?

That’s a tough one. I would probably say Donald Ross, in the terms of courses that I play well at and like to play.

What course that you have not played would you like to play?

That would definitely be two courses that I haven’t been to—Shinnecock and St. Andrews. I would love to play both of those courses at some point.

Where is the first place you are going to non-golf-travel related? And what do you miss the most?

Honestly, it is eating out. I really can’t wait to go get sushi somewhere and sitting with my friends, you know, just enjoying the simple stuff. I know we’re all kind of struggling here, being inside, and hopefully some of you have people that you can be inside with. It is getting difficult as we’re getting further along and I’m missing eating out. As much as cooking is fun, I really want someone else to cook for me.

Tricks for putting?

I would say practice your short putts. And, especially if you’re inside, if you have a little mat, or you can putt into a cup . . . being a really good, confident putter inside six feet, I think, helps your entire putting game as a whole, because you’re not stressed about lagging it so close, and that adds a lot of tension and pressure sometimes that makes your result worse. Like sometimes if you have the freedom to know that if I hit this 2-3 feet past or short, you feel comfortable and confident enough in your putting that you’re going to make those almost one hundred percent of the time. Also that frees up your short game too. So the best you can be inside six feet, I think for me, is huge, and the key for that is just solid contact. Whatever your stroke maybe, but just feel like your hitting the center of the putting face every time.

What were your scores in high school and when you committed to a college?

Things have changed a lot since I was in high school or going into college. It’s been at least ten years, but in high school I was an up and down player. I could shoot near par, I could shoot above eighty. Even going into my junior and senior years of high school, I wasn’t that consistent. Nothing near the level I was when I got to college or beyond that to turning pro. At each point, you start to improve. Things have changed. They are so competitive. When I committed to a college wasn’t until my visit in my senior year, and that’s so different now—girls and boys are committing so young. But I would just keep at it, honestly. If you’re shooting near par, there is one thousand percent a chance; there’s nothing to say that you wouldn’t go on to be a great player down the line. Just keep working on your game and trusting your process, but don’t be discouraged if you’re not beating the world when you are 15 years old. There is a longevity to the career, and it is important to be good for as long as you can be, and that process takes time.

Exercises to maintain your swing?

This is kind of hard to explain. But I think the most important thing with golf, especially when we don’t have access to a gym or equipment, is maintaining a good core and lower body strength so you can simply do that with some basic squats or an ab routine of some kind. And then maintaining a good range of motion, like upper body vs lower body. And that might be as simple in your workout as standing on one leg and rotating internally and externally against the leg that you are currently standing on. That’s as simple as that. If you guys are avid golfers, you have probably heard of T-spine rotation and T-spine mobility, which is basically opening up the mid-section of your back to get some more range of motion. Those are keys to keeping good range of motion when you’re not playing golf, which we’re not right now, unfortunately. Hopefully, soon, though.

Where does your love for food come from?

I grew up in an Italian family, so obviously we did a lot of cooking when I was a kid. Going to my grandma’s house, we would have dinner together as a family every Sunday. Everything was different, but most of the time we would have some sort of sauce, maybe it would be meatballs, maybe it would be a lasagna. That’s where I pretty much learned how to cook. I also spent a lot of time in my family’s deli restaurant growing up, which was in New York City. So when I was a kid, pretty much my entire childhood, most of my summers, were spent there in the kitchen—not really knowing what I was doing. I would make these crazy concoctions of stuff. It was just me kind of messing around as a kid, but it was just good to learn the basics and kind of learn how to do basic things like sautéing onions and garlic, and basics for cooking that will carry you a long way so that when you’re following a recipe or anything you find online, you kind of know approximately how to do it without messing it up the first time around.

Marina Alex’s 30-minute Vodka Sauce

(serves 4-5)

What you will need

  • 1/4 chopped onion
  • 4 cloves of Garlic
  • Half a teaspoon of minced Garlic
  • 1/2 cup of fresh Basil
  • 4 slices of Pancetta (or ham), roughly diced
  • 1 can of Tomatoes, pureed
  • 2-3 shots of Vodka
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Crushed Red Pepper
  • Garlic Powder
  • Onion powder
  • 3/4 cup of Heavy cream
  • Olive oil

Coat the bottom on a sauce pan with a little bit of olive oil. Warm the sauce pan on a low or medium heat before throwing in the fresh onion, fresh garlic, and minced garlic. Stir occasionally until golden (roughly 5-7 minutes).

As that is cooking, chop the Pancetta and add to the sauce pan. Stir in half of the fresh basil. Pour in 1-1/2 shots of Vodka. Simmer for 2-3 minutes. Add pureed tomato to saucepan and stir while increasing the heat to medium. Allow the mixture to simmer for 5 more minutes.

Dust the sauce healthily with salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and add remaining basil. Mix fully and let simmer until bubbling.

Stir in some crushed red pepper and another 1-1/2 shots of Vodka.

Allow the sauce to simmer for an additional 10 minutes before stirring in heavy cream to taste.

Simmer for 5 more minutes and serve.