Wright on Track
Sherry Wright’s golf resume includes qualifying for the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship three straight years and winning the Olivas Links Women’s Club Championship five straight years.
What makes Wright’s list of golf accomplishments even more impressive, though, is that the Oxnard resident only took up the game seven years ago.
For most of her life, Wright thought of golf as boring, something older people did because they couldn’t play any other sports. But after blowing out her knee while playing indoor soccer – an injury that kept her from doing her job as a physical therapist – Wright decided to find a sport that presented less risk and would get her outside. She chose golf.
“I thought, ‘How hard can it be?'” Wright said. “I found out it’s the hardest thing I have ever tried to do.
“But once I hit that first shot that was pure, I was hooked. I wondered how I did that and how I can do it again. From that point it’s been an endless pursuit to capture it, and I’ve been motivated by the challenge.”
Wright, 50, competed earlier this week in the 2017 U.S. Women’s Mid-Am, which was contested at Champions GC in Houston.
It marked Wright’s third straight appearance in the Mid-Am, which brings together some of the top female golfers from around the country 25 or older.
As a rookie in 2015, Wright finished seventh in the 36-hole stroke play portion of the tournament and won her first match in match play before losing in the Round of 32. Wright showed up to last year’s tournament at The Kahkwa Club in Pennsylvania with high expectations, but failed to reach match play.
“This year I have no expectations other than giving it my best,” Wright said. “I plan to enjoy it because I’ve come to realize a lot of good players don’t make match play.”
River Ridge teaching professional Lee Martin has been Wright’s swing coach since nearly the start of her golfing career.
Wright was at the River Ridge driving range, hitting what she described as 100-yard slices all over the range. Martin walked up and told her she wasn’t safe to go out on the course. Martin then handed Wright his card and said he could help.
“I was so ticked off,” Wright said. “But I went home and thought, ‘He’s right.’ I figured if he had the guts to come up and say that, I’ll give him a chance.
“From Day 1 he’s believed in me. He felt me being an athlete that I had talent he could help refine. His belief in me is what got me hooked.”
Martin calls Wright an ideal student because she is focused on improving and willing to put in the time to reach her goals.
“She has a resolve to get better that few players at any age possess,” Martin said. “She’ll come back from a tournament and tell me what went wrong and then wants to know what we’re going to do to fix things so they don’t happen again.
“She makes me a better teacher because she keeps pushing me to help her get answers so she can continue to improve her game.”
A key element to Wright’s quick rise in the sport is her work as a doctor of physical therapy at St. John’s Regional Medical Center in Oxnard. She has an extensive knowledge of kinesiology and biomechanics.
“I have found a parallel between teaching my patients to walk again and learning the golf swing,” Wright said. “Our patients receive a minimum of three hours of therapy a day. You can’t learn it all at once.
“First, you work on learning a few fundamentals until those are solidified, then a new component needs to be built into the mix. It’s a fluid process that keeps evolving. Then, somehow, you have to marry them all together in sync with good technique, tempo and timing.
“My patients will often reflect on how difficult it is to focus on so many different things at once. I share that sentiment with my endeavors of learning to play golf.”
Wright’s job has also helped her keep the highs and lows of golf in perspective.
“Every day I work with people who are learning to deal with losing a leg or who have one side of their body not working and trying to learn to walk again,” she said.
“When I get too focused on my golf struggles, I think of my patients and remember golf is just a game. I am competitive and want to do my best. But I need to be grateful for being able to do it and enjoy it.”