To play at a high level, in any sport, takes a mental toughness few understand and even fewer attain. Jordan Spieth, PGA Tour Golfer from Dallas, TX stated at one time, “Whenever the heat’s on…I’ve just kind of learned to focus a little more.” For the Lady Warriors, sophomore Alexis ‘Lexi’ Hamel’s focus is a major part of who she is at her core.
Mental focus serves multiple purposes. It serves as a way to see the here and now, what is right in front of you, to see the moment. Yet, it’s also is a way to transcend beyond and see all that lays ahead, the big picture; one shot, and one hole while simultaneously the entire course.
“This game is ninety-five percent mental,” asserts Lexi. “When I am out there I try to stay positive the whole way through. One bad shot, one bad hole, you have to learn how to pick yourself up and get back on your game.”
Learning how to pick yourself up after a fall can certainly be a painful and challenging and experience to endure. It is a matter of choice to do so. What makes it so painful is that this choice only presents itself after one has approached the achievement of a goal only to fall short.
Finding herself in California at the young age of twelve Lexi would have an experience that would strengthen her golf game moving forward. Jodi Hamel, Lexi’s mom remembers, “World Championships in Palm Springs, CA. It was definitely the longest course and there were so many girls from all over the world there. This was a big tournament.” Golfers from as far away as Taiwan would be competing at Worlds. Almost immediately a challenge would present itself for the Hamel’s young rising star.
“I get to Worlds and these girls were so good. This was the hardest course I’ve ever played on.” Lexi, reliving the experience competing on what would be her biggest stage to that point, “I remember the first day, this one par three. It was an island hole and I’d never really seen an inland hole besides in pictures. I get there and all the girls make it on the green taking irons off the tee.”
Lexi is really into politics. She takes pride in the fact that she wants to be informed.
Drifting from her natural game she learned a valuable lesson, “I decided, maybe if these girls are hitting irons then I will hit my biggest iron. Well, holding up this island to keep it afloat was this large wood block, and when I hit my ball I ended up hitting the wood block and my ball ended up in the water. So I went to the drop area and wound up hitting the ball into the water again. From there I let it get to me. I was nervous and I ended up with a nine on a par three. Looking back those girls were so unbelievable and I was in shock because I have never really played outside of Utah.” Finishing her Worlds debut after three days in dead last, Lexi made a decision. “I wanted to come back home and work so hard because I had no idea what the competition outside of Utah would be like.”
While many cave under pressure, it is those who’ve learned from past experience and have committed to put whatever time and dedication necessary, that make all the difference. “Now I practice five to six days a week thoughout the year, but when season starts, I am practicing even harder. I will get a few rounds in with friends or my dad to keep the competition going, but I am mostly on the range and working on my short game too.”
If you believe the dedication to improving her craft stops right there, Lexi is far from done. “I also go to the gym to do certain golf workouts to strengthen my core and legs. I know that also helps me get stronger and allows me to play even better.”
Life can be hectic and full of the stress for any teenager in high school. Maintaining grades, homework, tests and all that comes with it. However, Lexi takes comfort in her opportunity to play a sport in which she loves so deeply. “I can’t imagine myself anywhere else.” Fortunately for Hamel, something about the game of golf helps drown out the noise and provides a sense of clarity. “It is really my place to get away,” she says, “that is where I really feel like myself, I just love it.”
Counting herself blessed to have the relationship with her parents that she does; Lexi shares, “We do everything together. We get along really well and that is great, I love that we are so close. They love me and support me with everything. My dad, he does everything possible for me, I think that we get along so well on the course.” Jodi Hamel shares, “As a family we don’t go anywhere without Lexi, it is always the three of us.”
“This game is ninety-five percent mental,” asserts Lexi. “When I am out there I try to stay positive the whole way through. One bad shot, one bad hole, you have to learn how to pick yourself up and get back on your game.“
The support for Lexi’s golf game came for her at a very early age. “It was funny to see her at three years old with a club in her hand,” shares Mark, Lexi’s father. “She would run up and hit the ball, then run down the fairway and hit it again, and run down and hit it again until it got in the hole. It was interesting to see her as she progressed, as she got older. She has matured a lot and we are really proud of her, the way she has handled herself.”
“The first day at State I was really nervous and I remember on the first hole I had a good drive and ended up hitting par that first hole.” Recounting what would be a highlight of her golfing career thus far Lexi continues, “I kept my mental game high. I noticed that some of the other girls didn’t have a positive attitude but I was not going to let that distract me from what I wanted.” Finishing her first round with a 74, she came in third after the first day of tournament play. “The second day was tougher but I tied for fifth place in State as a freshman and was the only freshman to qualify for All-State.”
Lexi is an incredible young lady on and off the course. Academically she will certainly challenge herself, looking for ways to learn and grow. Yet one very interesting fact about this young lady is she knows everything about the Walking Dead. Her admitted second love, “I can tell you everything about the Walking Dead.” As for her favorite season of the series? “Probably season five, it was insane, I cried a lot in that season.”
One thing about Lexi that is obvious when you meet her is that she has an incredible outlook. She truly believes that with hard work anything in life can happen. We are certainly looking forward to an exciting and promising golf career for Lexi Hamel and know that Snow Canyon will be well represented this year and beyond. • HSSI