Following the lead of her grandfather, who is an avid golfer, Gwen Bates got her start in the sport when she was in seventh grade and hasn’t put the clubs down since.
“I asked [my grandfather] if he would take me out and hit a few balls, and I fell in love with it,” says Bates. “It’s a fun sport. I’m happy that I chose it.”
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The Rosary Academy senior is in her fourth year on the Royals’ varsity golf team, and it’s the game’s unpredictability that keeps her coming back to the links.
“The sport is pretty addicting. You can play really bad one day and play really well the next,” says the 18-year-old Bates. “You want to continually play better than your previous round. That’s why I keep playing.”
Bates has watched her fellow Rosary golfers steadily improve and grow together as a team since she arrived in her freshman year. In a game as serious as golf, the Royals’ co-captain uses her humorous side to lead her teammates.
“We try to be so serious in the game, you just need a moment to take that tension out,” says Bates.
And her leadership has gained Bates the respect of both her team and her coach.
“Gwen is not a showy person. She is simply down to earth, all about the team and a great mentor to our younger players,” says Rosary’s head golf coach, Steve Hiskey. “Her game and her leadership have developed along the same lines over the last four years, and we are looking for her to finish her golf career at Rosary as one of our top players.”
While it was her grandfather who introduced her to the sport, Bates looks to her mother as her most influential role model.
“Out of all the people in my life, I think the person who motivates me most is my mom,” says Bates. “As a single mom, she’s been able to get four girls through private school and send them all off to college, while maintaining a tough job and going back to school herself. She’s so inspirational to me.”
When she’s not on the golf course, you can find Bates capturing moments of campus life at Rosary as staff photographer for the school’s yearbook. The Fullerton resident would like the opportunity to play golf in college, but her main focus will be to study her passion, film and production.
Whether she continues to golf competitively or not, the humbling nature of the game has provided Bates with a glimpse into the unpredictability of life.
“Golf is a sport you can’t master. It’s a hard sport to play,” says Bates. “It’s definitely all about a certain mindset. You never know what life is going to throw at you. Just be patient…you never know what’s going to happen.”