BELLEAIR, Florida – Lauren Coughlin’s husband John Pond, a former offensive lineman at Virginia and current 10 handicap, convinced her not long ago to take him on in a three-club challenge at their home course just north of Charlottesville, Virginia. Pond got to use a full set of clubs, and Coughlin chose a 7-iron, driver and 56-degree wedge for the exericse.
“I putted unbelievable,” said Coughlin, who shot 3 over using a 7-iron on the greens.
That’s especially noteworthy given that Coughlin had hit rock bottom with her putting at the KPMG Women’s PGA, where she averaged 35 putts per round. The 7-iron, coupled with advice from fellow Virginian Bob Rotella about letting the athlete within take over, freed her up on the putting surface.
Now, after Monday-qualifying to get into the penultimate event of the year on the LPGA season, Coughlin, 29, finds herself in a share of 11th through three rounds of the Pelican LPGA Championship, and in good shape to shore up her LPGA card for the 2022 season.
Coughlin entered the Pelican No. 106 on the CME Race to the Globe standings, which determine status for next season. She would need to finish inside the top 30 at the Pelican to jump into the top 100 and avoid going to Q-Series in the coming weeks.
“My husband has said it the best,” said Coughlin. “I had nothing to lose.”
Coughlin actually came into the Pelican straight off of a win at No Laying Up’s Nest Invitational Tournament, aka the NIT. The handicap and flighted field was made up of NLU members who qualified at over 40 events across the country that were organized by folks on the message boards.
When No Laying Up announced a couple years ago that they’d be sponsoring up-and-coming players as part of their new Young Hitters program, Coughlin sent a direct message to Todd “Tron Carter” Schuster and, six months later, received a green-light reply. One coffee shop meeting later, Coughlin suddenly had a nationwide network of support.
“Our diehard core fanbase is all in on Lauren,” said Phil “Big Randy” Landes.
Made up events? Real events? She just keeps winning!
— D.J. Piehowski (@DJPie) November 8, 2021
There’s a financial component to the sponsorship, of course, but it’s the intangibles that mean the most to Coughlin. Her social media accounts have quadrupled since becoming part of the NLU program. At this week’s event near Tampa, Florida, Landes points out an NLU member, DrJ, who went to his first professional golf tournament this weekend to watch Coughlin. That happens most weeks now for Coughlin.
There’s even a thread on the message board about Coughlin setting off the alarm on the Lamborghini that’s up for grabs on the par-3 12th at Pelican.
“Well, now we know it comes with the alarm.” @LCisHOOSgolfin, Tiffany Chan and Benyapa Niphatsophon found out the hard way the Lamborghini prize at the @pelicanlpga comes with an alarm pic.twitter.com/dWZHdk8nOK
— LPGA (@LPGA) November 11, 2021
The weather in Jacksonville for the NIT last weekend was the absolute worst possible, and Coughlin, after winning her flight, swept the tournament by going birdie-birdie-par in the ensuing three-hole shootout. Other Young Hitters in the field included Justin Huber of the Korn Ferry Tour and Andrew Alligood, who plays on the PGA Tour Latinoamérica.
Coughlin said time spent with the No Laying Up crew recharges her batteries. NLU’s D.J. Piehowski has even caddied for Coughlin on the Symetra Tour.
“Golf can be really difficult mentally more than anything,” she said, “and it can really beat you down.
“When I hang out with them, I always come back loving golf a lot more than I did.”
— Lauren Coughlin (@LCisHOOSgolfin) May 20, 2020
The feeling runs both ways, of course, and the popular podcast crew – and their followers – will surely be impatiently refreshing all Sunday afternoon. Nelly Korda and Lexi Thompson might lead the field, but Coughlin is one of their own.
“It’s as close as I’ll get to knowing what parents feel like watching their kids play,” said Landes. “Obviously not to that level, but we are totally invested.”