Lauren Cupp discovered Speedgolf after seeing a short clip about it on ESPN. As someone who loved golf and running, but didn't have a lot of time, Speedgolf seemed like the perfect sport. Little did she know, she'd become the number one Speedgolfer in the world in addition to coaching both men's and women's golf at Hamilton College while being a mom to two little ones. Lauren's story is one about finding your passion, doing what you love, and always challenging yourself to be better.
Here is her story:
Tell me a bit about your background in golf and the golf industry.
I started off playing other sports. I went to Hamilton College, ran track and field, and played volleyball there. I've played golf my whole life. My dad introduced me to golf, but really I didn't play super competitively until kind of late high school. But, I fell in love with the game and I was kind of saddened that there wasn't a women's golf team at Hamilton. So, I started one there which started as just a club program, but then became a varsity program which I now have the opportunity to coach, so that's pretty neat.
I play competitively now and I've played in a couple USGA events. I won the New York State Mid-Am last year and a half ago so yeah, I play quite competitively now. With two little ones, I kind of stumbled upon Speedgolf. I really love to play and love to play competitively, but I was finding it hard to find five hours in a day to leave my family to go play. But, with Speedgolf, I found I can get in 18 holes and a workout in 50 minutes and I started playing that. It's opened up a lot of doors for me and I've been able to really travel the world with it. I've been to New Zealand, Japan, England, to the kind of funky reality TV show in South Korea, which was...interesting, it was kind of a once in a lifetime thing. Besides that, I work full time. I coach the men's and women's golf teams at Hamilton College.
How did you stumble upon Speedgolf?
I just kind of saw, this is probably six or seven years ago, that they did a little three minute clip on ESPN on the World Championships of Speedgolf and I was like, "I run and I play golf." And then I played nine holes and I'm like, "Alright, I could get into this." So, that's kind of how I stumbled upon it and my husband does it as well so it's something fun for us to do together and gives us an excuse to travel as well.
How does Speedgolf work?
You can use up to seven clubs. You can carry them any way you want. It can get super dorky, like, what are you doing with your clubs when you're putting because, you know, you can't put your bag on the green but you can't leave it off the green because it costs too much time to run off and back. I kind of wear mine like a backpack and I putt with two hands but other people putt with one hand. Some people just bring a couple clubs if they're more of a runner than a golfer and try to outrun the course. I generally bring five clubs unless I'm playing at a super long course. I bring a driver, putter, short iron, long iron, and a wedge.
How does it work at different courses?
There are Speedgolf-friendly courses. There's like a database to all Speedgolf-friendly courses. My husband I own a little golf course in Rome, New York so we're kind of able to play after the leagues finish up which is nice. We've got leagues every night of the week so as soon as they finish up we get at least nine holes in. But most people play in the morning so they play first group off or first person off, so they kind of go off behind the grounds crew and do it.
In terms of working as a college golf coach, when did you know you wanted to do that?
Not to be cheesy, but it really is a dream job for me to be able to work at my alma mater and be there full time. I work with some really awesome men and women. After college, I got my master's education, I taught for a while, and coached high school sports and really found that I loved that part of it. And then once I started having a family, I realized I couldn't do both. I couldn't do what I did before, which was teach all day and then coach until dark and be gone every weekend. So I thought I couldn't do that, but I missed the coaching too much. And then I was really, really fortunate because right about that same time, the women's team at Hamilton kind of formed and became a varsity program and they were looking for someone to do both.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Just having the opportunity to work with some amazing young men and women and be a coach, hopefully as well as a mentor, for people that are away from home at a very important stage of life. So, that's certainly the most rewarding part. I've been able to have the opportunity to coach some really cool, really diverse kinds of groups with lives that are different than mine with different life experiences. For example, I've got someone on my men's team that is from Zimbabwe and he just loves the opportunity to be here in the states to play golf and get a great education and he really takes advantage of all the things that college life has to offer, which is pretty key.
How do you think the golf industry benefits from having women in leadership positions?
Surely I think it helps promote women in sports, whether it's in golf or other sports. I think that women make not only great coaches but are also great in leadership roles. I also think it sets a great example for women that want to go into male-dominated careers and also encourages women to play sports. I really see that kind of firsthand. There's not nearly as many women that want to play or think they can play collegiately as there are men or high school boys. I would hope that having a woman in a leadership role or in a coaching role would maybe entice or encourage girls or high school girls to get into sports and also get into careers that might be male-dominated.
How do you think we can get more women working in the golf industry?
I certainly think exposure helps, you know, as we just talked about, kind of being exposed to women in sports and to women in these professions. But I do wish there were more opportunities for women to get educated in careers or shadow people in careers like this.
We just did a women's coaching symposium at Hamilton that some of my colleagues and I put together and it was really powerful to have. We brought in some women speakers, some that have been in the sport for a long time and have coached for a long time and it was really powerful to see all these people in one room. And the room was made up of everything from college women, to high school coaches, to college coaches, to assistant coaches and just talking about women and women in sports was really powerful. So maybe some more opportunities like that would be neat.
What are your future aspirations in the golf industry?
I'd love to continue to play. That's a very wonderful thing about golf is that you really can play throughout your life. For Speedgolf, I'm ranked number one in the world right now, which I think is really, really cool to me. I'd love to to win another state title and I would also like to kind of promote that sport here.
I was just in Japan about a month and a half ago and it's huge over there. I mean, you have a drone following you the whole time and the whole thing was televised on one of their big broadcast stations. I'd love to grow the sport of Speedgolf or even just make people aware that there are different ways that golf can be played. There's a lot to be learned from playing the game quickly, or at least faster than we play it traditionally.
In terms of coaching, I've been really close on both ends of my teams making it to the national championship. We're in the most competitive Division III conference in the country and we've been close a lot of times. I think that's both a short and long term goal for me.
If you had any words of inspiration or advice for young women beginning their career in the golf industry or the coaching industry, what would it be?
To young girls, I would certainly say give golf a try. In terms of a career, I think finding a mentor is really powerful and worthwhile. If you can find someone in the industry that can help you with the ups and downs that you can call when you have a good day and when you have a bad day, I think that is really important. And that's why I love what you're doing by connecting these people, both in leadership roles and that want to be in these roles in the golf industry. I think that it's a really awesome community to be a part of and something that's really worthwhile.
Thank you so much to Lauren for finding this website and reaching out to me. I had no idea that Speedgolf existed, and it is such a great sport for people with families, who are busy, and of course, who like to run. You can follow Lauren on Instagram (@laurencupp8) and follow along both her and her husband in the Speedgolf world (@speedgolfcupple). Remember to follow @golf.hers on Instagram and like the new Facebook page!