Angela Stanford’s passion for the game of golf and for the life she has chosen for herself remains unabated. Stanford still strives to be the best she can be.
“I’ve always loved the game,” she said. “I think that’s the one thing that has continued to drive me. I love the game, I love competing. Everything else follows that. I think if you don’t love what you’re doing, if you don’t love that first thing, then it’s hard for things to follow. I love getting up in the morning and trying to get better at what I do.”
Stanford’s resume includes five LPGA Tour wins, six Solheim Cup appearances, and more than $10 million in earnings. She is 40 now and has contemplated retirement. But she realized her competitive fires still burned.
““There are things that you have to figure out along the way,” she said, “but the first thing was that I love to play the game and I still love to play the game. I think if that’s true in your life then everything else follows.”
The LPGA Tour has grown significantly since Stanford first earned her tour card, after playing college golf at TCU. Purses have grown by more than 35 percent since her rookie season.
Perhaps inevitably, as purses increased, LPGA Tour players are increasingly accompanied on tour by swing coaches, advisors, and assistants. Stanford his not necessarily a fan of the trend.
“I don’t think you need a team of people,” she said. “I can’t have a lot of people around me. I don’t want an entourage.
“Because I’m a worrier, I’d worry that everybody’s okay. If I had five people with me every week I would worry, ‘Am I spending enough time with this person or that person?
“Unfortunately, a lot of players kind of get pushed into that arena and then they find themselves thinking ‘I just don’t want all these people around.’ But at the same time, some people need that. They need encouragement and support from all angles. I think it’s something you have to figure out yourself.
“And I got to a point where I realized I needed an instructor with me a little more on the road. I didn’t need that early on. But I think I kind of need that now.
“I think it’s something players have to figure out individually and unfortunately, people are making it seem like a must, these days.”
Another trend Sanford has seen emerge over the course of her career is athletes specializing in a single sport at increasingly younger ages. She herself played multiple sports growing up and feels that’s a major reason she’s still competing today.
“I’m thankful that I had seasons in my life,” she said. “I had a basketball season, I had a softball season, I had a volleyball season, and then I had a golf season and I remember those coaches being very supportive of that and I think some of (the trend toward specialization) has fallen on the coaches.
There are coaches that say ‘If you don’t just play one sport, you can’t play varsity,’ or whatever. I don’t believe in that because I think by playing more sports I realized what I wanted to do. I wanted to play golf, because I knew that’s how I could continue to go college and then play professionally.”
“I’m very grateful that I played multiple sports (basketball, softball, volleyball) growing up. I think if I’d just played golf. I don’t know if I would still be playing at 40.”
From her earliest days as a professional, Stanford has had a profound sense of the world beyond the gallery ropes and relishes opportunities to give.
The Angela Stanford Foundation, which was founded in 2009, provides college scholarships to the children of families who have been impacted by cancer. The aid goes to students at Texas secondary schools who are attending Texas colleges and universities. On average, two to four recipients are selected each year. Each receives $10,000 a year in scholarship funds for four years.
The grants are funded by a pro-am Stanford hosts each year as well as her Birdie Bonanza program, in which fans and sponsors donate a sum of money for each birdie Stanford makes in competition.
“I’ve always wanted to help kids in some form,” Stanford said. “I didn’t realize cancer would be involved until my mom was diagnosed in 2009 with breast cancer and we had a board member pass away in 2010 from cancer.
“It just felt like God was kind of guiding us in that direction and that’s kind of why we started giving scholarships and helping kids continue their dreams in college.
“Not only does cancer touch the victim, it touches the family, and we wanted to help those kids continue to have some purpose in life.”
As Stanford’s passion for her chosen profession remains unabated, so do does her passion for other sports. A lifelong resident of the Fort Worth area, she is an unabashed fan of both the Texas Rangers and her alma mater, the TCU Horned Frogs.
With the Rangers languishing in the basement of the American League West, Stanford questioned the decision by Rangers GM Jon Daniels to give a hefty signing bonus to teenaged Venezuelan shortstop Osleivis Basabe. Stanford, herself a former softball shortstop, felt the reported $550,000 bonus given to Basabee could have been better spent elsewhere.
“The shortstop position is not the place you spend all of your money,” she said. The position probably isn’t going to be your home run leader with an average glove. It’s hard to find a great glove. We’ve put our money in some places and I wish we would have put it elsewhere.”
When asked what steps she would take if she could sit at Daniels’ desk for a day, Stanford focused on pitching. “I think we’ve kind of put our money in places other than pitching,” she said. (As GM) I would have gone after a couple of pitchers.
“The Rangers are always going to hit home runs and score runs. But we needed pitching and I think we overspent in some areas and then didn’t go after pitching.”
In four years, the Rangers will celebrate their 50th anniversary in Texas. The franchise moved from Washington, D.C. prior to the 1972 season. Stanford was asked if she sees the Rangers winning a World Series prior to the 50th anniversary celebration. “No, she said immediately, “I just hope they win one before I die.”
When it comes to TCU football, Stanford is considerably more optimistic. She has spent some time and become friendly with Horned Frogs football coach Gary Patterson. “Coach Patterson and I have played a few holes of golf,” she said. “He has made a surprise appearance at my foundation event. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know him, I think he’s a great guy.”
Stanford admires Patterson’s commitment to not just the university that employs him, but also the surrounding community. “He’s committed to Fort Worth,” she said. “He’s committed to TCU, he’s just been tremendous. He has helped TCU off the field also in terms of facilities. They’ve built facilities because of Coach Patterson and his success. It’s been fun to watch him and he’s a good guy.”
Stanford believes TCU will win more than the eight games the experts are projecting for the 2018 campaign. “I think we’re going to have some excitement on the offensive side of the ball,” she said. “I think Coach Patterson has got a few things up his sleeve and obviously, his defense is always stout.
“I like it when they underestimate coach P because usually that ends up being good for all of Horned Frog Nation.”
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