From Brisbane, Australia, Emilie Mahar didn’t exactly expect to continue his golf career at the college level in Blacksburg, Virginia. Even playing a variety of different sports, the Australian junior always seemed to focus on the game which continued to help her reach new heights that once seemed unimaginable.
“In Australia, you have to [for all students] doing interscholastic sports,” Mahar said. “We were competing with other schools and we were doing six weeks in a row of a different sport, so I played basketball, volleyball, swimming, [and] rugby. I tried almost everything, but in the end I always made time to go to the golf course to practice and play.”
Mahar was a natural when it came to swinging the club. She quickly learned the game, often sharing the greens with her younger brother.
When they were only twelve years old, Mahar’s parents decided it was time for a new opportunity. The whole family uprooted to America, where she attended the prestigious Xavier College Prep in Phoenix, Arizona.
Although not the only reason for the move, Mahar’s father was aware of the popularity of the LPGA (Ladies Professional Golf Association) in the United States.
“Most of the tour was here [and he’d] heard that college golf was a really good step into the pros,” Mahar said. “It was just kind of an added benefit.
The international move proved to be a major success for Mahar’s golf career. As the winner of a four-year letter to Xavier Prep, Mahar led the girls’ golf team to four straight state titles and was captain her senior year. As a four-year honor roll member, Mahar also continued to display his versatility as an off-course individual. Mahar racked up accolades as the Arizona Junior Golf Association (JGAA) Player of the Year twice and fourth best golfer in the class of 2017. An impressive resume for the talented rookie, who verbally committed to Virginia Tech her junior year of high school.
Mahar’s first season with the fledgling Virginia Tech program, which was only two years old at the time, was nothing short of spectacular. She had a breakout freshman campaign, placing top-20 in three of her tournaments, as well as a stellar top five at the Moon Golf Invitational in the spring of 2018.
In addition to being on the elite stage of college athletics, being an international and female athlete, in particular, puts her under a microscope, critical of both performance and personal life.
“I think the biggest pressure you have as a female athlete is definitely how you hold yourself accountable and how you present yourself to the world,” Mahar said. “You can even see with professional athletes, a lot of [women] are judged on what they do outside of their sport, whereas a lot of male athletes can get away with a bit more, and I think that’s just people trying to slow down the progress of women by being on a level equal to men.
Despite the challenges, however, Mahar remains unfazed, choosing to view these challenges as a motivation more than a hindrance.
Mahar has written herself into the history books with less than four years of college golf experience. She’s already established herself as the program’s career-high scoring average (73.21), co-ACC Golfer of the Month for October (2021), sixth-place finish at the Stanford Regional in 2021, quarter-finalist and 2021 US Women’s Amateur medalist, 2021 US Women’s Open. Qualifier and contributor to Tech’s first-ever NCAA appearance. Mahar has built quite a legacy in Blacksburg; undoubtedly leaving his mark on the course and the community. With the first half of the season in the rearview mirror and only the spring season remaining, Mahar is aiming for a strong finish.
“Our goal is to qualify for the NCAA championship,” Mahar said. “I know our team had so much fun last year and it would only cap off a really good college career if I could finish playing in the national championship.
“I think it’s very important to remember that you have no impact on what’s going on around you. You only control yourself, your own game, your own mind. It’s up to you to make the best of your situation.”
A 2022 National Championship win at Grayhawk Golf Club, Scottsdale, Arizona, where Mahar’s influential career was initially played out, would be a historic and inspiring moment, not just for the 21-year-old; but for Virginia Tech women’s golf and young girls with big dreams
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