Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, July 10, 2020

Hollis swings away at lofty goals

Lindsey Hollis is the daughter of Chattanooga attorney Joe Hollis and a student athlete at Wofford College. The Women’s Golf Coaches Association has named her an All-America Scholar for 2020. - Photo by Mark Olencki, Wofford College

Chattanooga attorney Joe Hollis is one proud father.

He’s driving his daughter, Lindsey Hollis, to Florida, where she’ll spend the following day training at The Performance Center at TCP Sawgrass, home of THE PLAYERS Championship, an annual stop on the PGA TOUR.

There, private golf coach Angie Ridgeway will work with Lindsey on her swing.

“Alana understands the female swing really well. She’s done wonders for my game,” Lindsey says.

Lindsey has also scheduled a coaching session with Mike Shannon, who will attempt to tweak her putting. Shannon once did the same for Tiger Woods.

After reading about Lindsey’s achievements during her freshman year at Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina, one might wonder why her game needs fine-tuning.

A state champion during her junior and senior years at Signal Mountain Middle High School, Lindsey joined Wofford’s squad last fall as a walk-on – an athlete who becomes part of a team without being recruited or awarded a scholarship.

She then qualified for and competed in seven tournaments, finishing in the top 25 five times – a rare feat for any freshman, let alone a walk-on, says Hollis.

“We didn’t think Lindsey would qualify for the tournaments as a freshman, but she played in every one,” he brags, sounding like he’d bust the buttons on his suit jacket if he were wearing one.

One freshman-year highlight for Lindsey was competing against Princeton.

“It was cool to go up against the best of the best,” she says. “I played in a small division in high school, and it was fun to be a big fish in a small pond, but I wanted to move up to a big pond and see if I could still be a big fish.”

Several Division II and Division III schools offered Lindsey a full ride, but her dream was to play Division I.

“One of the hardest things about my transition to college was the lack of attention from Division I schools,” she says. “They usually start recruiting students in the eighth or ninth grade, so that wasn’t unexpected. But my goal was to play D-I. Even if it went terribly, I wanted to put myself out there.”

Although this meant passing up scholarships for as much as $50,000, Hollis and his wife supported their daughter’s decision. “When we saw how passionate Lindsey was, we couldn’t turn her down,” he says.

In addition to Lindsey’s achievements on the greens, Hollis has one more reason to crow about his daughter: She excelled academically. In addition to making Wofford’s dean’s list both semesters, the Women’s Golf Coaches Association has named her an All-American Scholar.

The WGCA recognized 1,401 women’s collegiate golfers as All-American Scholars this year. The criteria for selection to the team are some of the most stringent in college athletics, Wofford says in an article published on its sports website (woffordterriers.com), and include a minimum GPA of 3.5.

Lindsey earned a 4.0.

Although neither Hollis nor his wife play golf, Lindsey’s consuming interest in athletics placed her on a collision course with the sport.

“I played everything,” she says. “Softball, tennis, basketball, cross-country, soccer. Our garage looked like an Academy Sports.”

Nothing stuck except golf, which Lindsey was determined to play despite not making the team at Signal Mountain Middle High in sixth grade. After failing to make the cut, she spent the next year improving her game at Signal Mountain Golf and Country Club.

“Mom drove the cart in the rain, and when it was really cold, I’d hit for 30 minutes, then we’d warm up in the car, and then we’d go back out and I’d hit for another 30 minutes,” Lindsey recalls. “I fell in love with it.”

Although Lindsey made the team the following year, it was still considered a late start. “Most kids start out of diapers,” Hollis quips. “But she had promise.”

Despite beginning behind the pack, Lindsey went on to become a 2017 TSSAA girls golf individual and team state champion and a 2018 TSSAA girls golf individual runner-up. She also graduated with a 4.0 grade-point average.

“Lindsey had two goals in high school: To graduate with a 4.0 and to be a state golf champion,” Hollis says. “And she did both.”

Lindsey is now striving for similar achievements in college, which she knows will be even more difficult. But she’s up for the challenge.

“I’ve always loved to work hard,” Lindsey says. “I once saw some college tennis players doing their homework before their tournament. Dad asked me if I was sure that was what I wanted to do, and I said that was exactly what I wanted to do.”

Although Lindsey has not yet declared a major at Wofford, her career aspirations are beginning to form. After a chemistry course dissuaded her from studying pre-med, she’s identified an interest in accounting. But she won’t be making a final decision about her major for another year.

Whatever Lindsey chooses, she’s going to cling to the possibility of someday playing golf professionally. With fewer than 2% of collegiate athletes advancing to professional play, the NCAA reports, she knows it’s a long shot. But she’s beaten the odds before.

“My chances are slim, but I love the sport and I have the right people behind me, so I could see it happening,” she says. “At the same time, I’m going to college instead of a golf academy because having an education is a privilege and I want to earn a degree. You have to have a backup plan.”

Lindsey’s short-term plan is to return to Chattanooga after her coaching sessions in Florida and compete in the Chattanooga Women’s Amateur golf tournament at Black Creek Golf Club next week. She says the event will be a good primer for when she returns to Wofford in the fall.

“Tournaments remind me of why I play golf,” Lindsay says. “It’s competitive but also a lot of fun.”

Although Lindsey doesn’t want to predict how she’ll fare, she does know one thing: Her father will be watching, proud as ever.