Emma Cox is a firm believer that to be a strong golfer, you must have a good approach.
That’s true of both the shot that sends the ball onto the green and the correct frame of mind.
Cox credits her work with her mental coach, Dr. Joe Parent, for the big improvement between her freshman and sophomore years at Camas High School.
“He’s written several books, and they’re called ‘Zen Golf'” Cox said. “I kind of pretend that’s my religion or something. I’m kind of a Zen Golf Buddhist or something. It’s all about inner peace and calming yourself, believing in yourself and your abilities and trusting your game, which I haven’t had in the past.”
Last season, Cox advanced to state as a freshman and shot a solid 79 in the first round to make the cut. But things went awry in Day 2, and she shot an 86 to place 32nd.
“I came into this year thinking ‘All right, I’m just going to play my game. I’m going to trust myself,'” Cox said. “I’m not going to let my mind mess me up because that is what’s holding me back is just my mental ability.”
And it worked. Cox opened state last month with a 75. She followed that up with a 73 to place third overall.
“Even after shooting that 75, I knew I could play better,” she said. “And I did just that.”
It all helped Cox become The Columbian’s All-Region golfer of the year.
But Cox says she couldn’t have done it alone. Along with the help of her mental coach, she also credits her teammates. Camas sent six golfers to state: Cox, Hailey Oster (who placed ninth), Ashley Clark, Lauryn Tsukimura, Wenny Cai and Avery Salvato.
“Me and Hailey, it’s always fun to go out and play with her, and all the other girls; they all can shoot,” Cox said. “Any day, anybody could beat any of us. Sometimes, it might be me coming in first. Sometimes it’s Hailey, or sometimes it’s Ashley or Lauryn, Wenny or Avery.”
With the right teammates and the right mental approach, Cox is hoping for another big season next year at Camas.
“I’d love to play even better, do even better at state,” she said. “I was just really happy to compete at state this year. Third place was just so awesome. I want to do even better next year. Maybe second place; maybe first place. But I want to keep improving.”