Watch Alice Chen in the inaugural Augusta National Women’s Amateur Championship, April 3-6. The final round is expected to draw a large national television audience, with coverage available from 12-3 pm on NBC.
Alice Chen is a name you may know. She grew up in Montgomery and is now among the top 100 female amateurs in the United States (according to the World Amateur Golf Rankings).
Chen accepted an invitation to compete at the prestigious inaugural Augusta National Women’s Amateur Championship April 3 - 6. The club, home to The Masters golf championship, only began accepting female members in 2012.)
I sat down with Chen to learn about her incredible journey from budding golfer into national champion. This is her story.
Montgomery is where it all started. “I was here since I was like two years old,” Chen said. “It’s been my only home except for college.”
One summer, Chen decided to join the Mattawang Junior Golf Camp. “That’s where I first started,” she said, “It was a small, cute little place.”
Article continues after advertisement.
From then on, her passion developed, teaching her many things along the way. “[Golf] taught me a lot about faith, about how I’m not always in control of everything, and to trust in God’s plan, especially during difficult losses,” Chen said. “It taught me a lot of patience too, for sure.”
Her four-year run on the Montgomery High School golf team concluded with two titles at the NJSIAA/MGA/NJSGA Tournament of Champions, two state Golfer of the Year awards, and four Somerset County Tournament titles.
She excelled while on the Furman University golf team, and has been active with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
How does one balance a belief that God is in control with the responsibilities that an athlete has to him/herself?
“There’s a quote that comes to mind,” Chen said. “‘You have to work like it depends all on you, but pray like it depends on God.’ I can control things like practice, fitness, physical nutrition, hours that I sleep, and I will always try my best on the golf course. I don’t necessarily believe God is behind it all, like ‘OMG he moved my golf ball.’
“The piece where trusting in God comes into play is trusting that the results are still opportunities to make Him famous, to know that He is good whether I play well or not.”
“There’s hope that even if I play bad, I’m still a child of God, I’m still loved by Him, and it just takes so much pressure off my performance,” Chen said. “My identity is not in golf, it is first in being a child of God.”
Chen follows an intricate pre-shot routine to ensure she hits her best shot. “So much of the golf shot happens before you take your stance,” she said. “If you step up with a lot of fear, thinking it’s gonna go in the bunker, of course it’s gonna go there. So instead, I look at my ball, I look at where I want it to go, and I imagine tracing a line from my back to the target.
“When I’m over the ball, about to swing, I don’t think about it anymore. You’re just reacting to it; as an athlete, you trust your instincts.”
Chen intends to declare herself a professional golfer after she competes at Augusta.
“Turning pro doesn’t make you a good golf professional — you’re a good golf professional because you’ve been really disciplined.” ■