Next up it’s Mehaffey chasing her professional golf dreams

24-year-old: ‘I think the biggest thing I need to see improve is my mental game.'

Olivia Mehaffey hitting her second shot on the 3rd hole during the second round of the Women’s British Open at Woburn Golf Club in July 2016. Photograph: Tony Marshall/Getty Images

Where once upon a time the route from amateur golf into the professional sphere was rarely travelled by Irish women, something of a conveyor belt has clicked into motion in recent years. First there was Stephanie Meadow, then – with quite the impact – there came Leona Maguire. And now Olivia Mehaffey is chasing her own professional dreams.

Mehaffey in many ways has followed similar footsteps to Maguire in pursuing an education before gravitating towards the main development circuit in the United States, the Epson Tour (formerly known as the Symetra Tour).

In Mehaffey’s case her collegiate time was spent at Arizona State University – graduating with a masters degree in organisational leadership – and while excelling academically the 24-year-old Co Down golfer also achieved top marks on the golf course, leading ASU to National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) titles in her time there and playing in two Curtis Cup matches for Britain and Ireland.

And being great friends with Maguire, Mehaffey has tapped into the new LPGA Drive On Championship winner’s own experience in playing the development tour en route to earning her full LPGA Tour card.


“I talk to Leona every week. We’re really good friends, and I would say she’s one of my best friends, and it’s really nice for me to bounce ideas off her. I ask her a lot of questions because obviously she’s been where I am right now.

“She played a year and a half on the Symetra/Epson Tour and it was very reassuring for me to hear from her that she thought it was one of the best things for her career, learning life on the road, getting used to all those things.

“I’ll be playing pretty much two tours, the Epson and the Ladies European Tour (LET). It is one of those years where you go with what you can get into, travelling back and forth between two tours. I talked to Leona about it. It is extremely hard to do both so you want to focus and focus on having a really good bonus at the end of the year, whether you get your card for the Epson Tour or top-five in the Race to Costa del Sol and you can get through to Q-Series. So both tours have pros and cons. I am kind of in a space now where my season is quite open-ended. It could go either way.”


She added: “I sat down with my coach [Jorge Parada], my psychologist [Mark Elliott], and we set some goals, both mentally and performance goals. I set these goals…I want to get a win this year, and I want to get my LPGA card.

“Then I’m focusing on daily things I need to be better at. I think the biggest thing I need to see improve is my mental game. That’s why I sat down with Mark at the end of last year. I said, ‘I’m giving everything mentally on this. I want you to push me. I want to work hard on this’.

“I think being in a good space off the golf course and when I’m happy again on the golf course, enjoying it, being in contention, handling situations a little bit better, would be the most important for me.”

As it happened Mehaffey would have got into this week’s Ladies European Tour starter, the Kenyan Open. However, she opted to stay in the US to continue working on her game, with a likely starting point for her season being next month’s Carlise Arizona Women’s Golf Classic at Longbow Golf Club on the Epson Tour, perfectly timed to coincide with St Patrick’s Day.

Mehaffey sadly endured a tough end to 2021 when her father, Philip, passed away. Mehaffey fulfilled his wish that she keep to her plan to play at the LET Qualifying School, where – rather cruelly – she was denied a full playing card in suffering a closing double-bogey. Nevertheless, her status should ensure entry into a large number of tournaments.

“I wasn’t in a good place mentally. I had a lot going on obviously, but I look at the past three years and with the status that I got I will get into most events. But last year was an extremely tough year for me, on and off the course, probably the hardest I faced, and I hope I don’t face anything like last year for a long time. I think you have got to, as Jon Rahm was saying, you have to have such a short memory, and I think I am more focusing on what I have got, and on this year ahead, and I am very excited for it.”


Golf has been an integral part of her life since starting at aged six, very often playing with her father and brother and learning the skills.

“I love golf a lot. even at the lowest lows it’s just been such a huge part of my life since I was so young. I’m very passionate about what I do, and I love working hard, and there’s going to be good and bad times, it’s something that’s in any sport, in any way of life, but it’s how you respond.

“So I’m really excited to get going this year, to get the season under way and to get back to enjoying it.”

Mehaffey has also welcomed Golf Ireland’s new strategic plan which aims to open up the sport to more girls and make it more accessible.

“There are a lot of areas in the strategy that I think are really very exciting. I’m very passionate with junior girls and giving back that way, so I think to get more of them involved, it is going to be a very exciting few years.

“Without golf I know my life wouldn’t be like how it is now. It has been a huge part of my life since I was about six years old, and I just want other girls to have the same opportunities I had and to realise how fun it is. and I think that’s more the direction it is going where it is more inclusive, more accessible as well, it is hopefully more fun.”

And the fun part is something Mehaffey is hoping will be part of her ongoing competitive play, juggling professional life on the two tours – the Epson and the LET – with the intention to join Meadow and Maguire on the LPGA Tour.


Olivia Mehaffey

Age: 24

Turned professional: 2021

Amateur career victories:

2015 - Scottish Women's Open

2016 - Irish Women's Open, Irish Close, Welsh Women's Open

Team appearances:

2013-2016 - Home Internationals (representing Ireland)

2014 - Youth Olympic Games (representing Ireland)

2014-2018 - European Championships (representing Ireland)

2015 - Junior Solheim Cup (representing Europe)

2015, 2017 - Vagliano Trophy (representing Britain and Ireland)

2016 - Espirito Santo Trophy (world championship, representing Ireland)

2016, 2018 - Curtis Cup (representing Britain and Ireland)

2018, 2020 - Palmer Cup (representing international team)