Game Changer

Marisa Messana’s bid to play on the LPGA Tour was interrupted somewhat by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 24-year-old Fort Lauderdale resident reached Stage 2 of the 2019 LPGA and Symetra Tour Qualifying Tournament last August and had hopes of earning the opportunity in 2021. In Stage 1 of qualifying, she shot a 4-over-par 292.

“With this whole COVID situation, I would say my goals are up in the air right now,” said Messana, who graduated from Clemson University with a master’s degree in human resources. “I just have to continue to improve my performance and let the rest take care of itself.

“I don’t want to put a number on rankings or scoring average or anything like that because I don’t know what it is all going to look like. I definitely want to play on the LPGA Tour and will do everything I can to make it happen. I trust the opportunities will lend itself to where I will have the financial support.”

Messana has always been goal-oriented. She was a three-time captain for the American Heritage girls golf team, which won four state high school championships. The 2014 high school grad became a varsity starter in the seventh grade.

She went on to become the first four-year starter for the Clemson University women’s program and led the team to its first National Championship appearance by having the low round (73). She also captured the National Elite 90 award, which goes to the athlete with the highest grade-point-average at the national championships. She sported a 4.0 and has been inducted into Clemson’s Academic Hall of Fame.

“I would like to work as a role model and glamorize that grind and put in the hard work and show how it pays off.”

Marisa Messana

Messana earned her communications undergraduate degree in three years and did a master’s in human resources in her fourth year of eligibility. She graduated in August 2019.

“The grind is a challenge,” Messana said. “Even though you have all of these accolades that you keep in your cookie jar I guess, it doesn’t mean anything when you are in the professional world.

“It is kind of like starting from scratch, and building your credibility through your performances is my goal. I’m trying to improve physically, mechanically, mentally in order to perform, but now there is the burden of being able to support myself financially as well.”

Prior to the pandemic, Messana said she had done her due diligence leading up to turning pro and being in a position where she could do that comfortably.

“I had a lot of great things lined up, but then when COVID hit and some of those things definitely decreased or fell through completely,” she said. “It has been tough because there is the opportunity to compete and you have to realign your efforts to continue to make progress in your career regardless of what is going on.”

“We can be role models and mentors to the younger players … or aspiring college athletes to work their way up in whatever sport they are in.”

– Marisa Messana

Among her current goals is to bring more notoriety to the women’s tour.

She had lined up campaigns and projects with some companies to help navigate her through the early part of her pro career.

“I had some different initiatives where I could provide value to their companies and they would in turn support me through the early stages,” Messana said. “The marketing budgets were squeezed and they weren’t in the position to do that.

“One of the campaigns I would love to start is to bring more attention to the athleticism that we have as golfers, which goes unnoticed. It is pretty cool and admirable for the girls out there, so one of my goals is to emphasize that side of us.”

Messana believes women’s golf is struggling in comparison to the men’s side, with the appeal and giving the sponsors the exposure that they need in order to have the support and the purses that the men’s side has.

“I think something that we can do is increase that appeal and show the kind of athleticism and the grind that we go through,” Messana explained. “One thing that the viewers would want to see more of in that side of athletes and personalities that we can provide.

“We can be role models and mentors to the younger players that are up and coming from high schools or aspiring college athletes to work their way up in whatever sport they are in. I would like to work as a role model and glamorize that ‘grind and put in the hard work,’ and show how it pays off. I think it is not as prominent these days, and it is something that has fueled my career. I want to help positively fuel others if I can.”

Messana believes her ball-striking can always improve.

“I put a lot of work into that during the extended offseason, if you want to call it that,” Messana said. “I feel great about being able to make incremental improvements, and it will add up. I have to continue to make birdies and get comfortable scoring low.

“It takes 3 to 5 years to get to that final stage, so I am on par with my timeline of where I need to be,” Messana concluded. “I always had the dream of playing in the LPGA.

Whenever I do something, I do it 100 percent. If I want to play golf, I want to be the best golfer that I can be. I want to be at the highest level I can, and I always envisioned that.”

You can follow Messana on Instagram @marisamessana.

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