Olivia Mehaffey hopes she has found her happy place both on and off the golf course as she looks to get her career back on track and push on this year.
Following the passing of her father late in 2021, Mehaffey took a long break from golf having become lost in the latter half of 2022.
Despite playing eight weeks straight in the US, South Africa, Australia, Madrid and Thailand, she knew her mind wasn’t right, she was in the wilderness, stricken by grief but unable to admit it to herself.
By the time she stepped away from the game in August 2022 she had missed 9 of 17 cuts.
She returned twelve months ago to rebuild her confidence and see if she was ready to give professional golf another go. Now, with category 16 status secured on the Ladies European Tour for this year, the Armagh woman is in a happier place.
“I felt last year coming back on Tour, it was a bit of a rebuild to be honest,” she said. “I still felt like I was a bit all over place with everything.
“I was just trying to survive and get through playing golf and I had to put a lot of things in place to just get around the golf course. Now, I’m in a good place off the course and a good place on the course.”
Mehaffey was just one shot off the pace after the opening round of this week’s Magical Kenya Ladies Open before a second round of 77 saw her fall six shots off the lead.
The Tandragee native was a top class amateur, an Irish international, a Curtis Cup star, an ASU graduate and an Augusta Women’s Amateur participant. Accolades that come with consistency, a model she is searching for this year.
“I had a sit-down meeting with my coaches at the end of the season and we put together a plan and I think we’ve stuck pretty well to that, and I have a very good team around me. It’s been very consistent, and I told them I just want to keep things simple and consistent, and I think we’ve done a good job of that.
“It was inconsistent for sure, there was a third-place finish and leading in Germany and a lot of missed cuts as well. It was very inconsistent and when I was at my best as an amateur, I didn’t have that, so we’re trying to train consistently and do everything consistently and hopefully, that will provide some more consistent results.”
Once upon a time the path from amateur golf into the professional ranks was one less travelled by Irish women but Mehaffey still remains part of a conveyor belt of talent that has produced two-time LPGA Tour winner Leona Maguire and Stephanie Meadow.
Tipped to reach those heights one day, the 26-year-old has lashings of time on her side and will be hoping the old saying of “happy off the course, happy on the course” comes to fruition for her after an emotionally wretched few years.
“It’s been three years of really tough times, no doubt about that. I didn’t really have that when I was an amateur, it just felt like everything went and fell into place. It’s been tough and a long learning curve and I feel like I’m a tougher person, I’m in a better place and I’ve learned a lot. For the rest of my career, I hope that experience will stand by me.”