By Pat Jenkins
High school golf has a small fan base. Memories of players are usually short and few. But followers of Bethel High School teams over the years probably remember Sadena Parks.
And now Parks, 23, is gaining the attention of a national television audience as one of the participants on Golf Channel’s “Big Break Florida.” The reality show pits 12 women in head-to-head competition that gives the winner an opportunity to qualify for the LPGA Tour.
Before graduating from Bethel in 2008, Parks won two state high school golf titles. In her senior year, she finished fifth in the PGA Junior Girls Championship. She continued her competitive career with the University of Washington before eventually turning pro.
Now living in Scottsdale, Ariz., Parks is playing on the Symetra Tour, the developmental tour for the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA). Symetra players haven’t earned playing privileges to compete on the LPGA Tour. Parks is working at it, though. Her 2014 season is off to a good start with a tie for third place and $4,887 in winnings in the Mesa Gateway Classic Feb. 21-24. She shot rounds of 67, 72 and 68 to finish at 207, nine under par for the 54-hole tournament.
Her season statistics include a rank of 13th in driving distance (averaging 274 yards) and an average of 30 putts per round. The latter puts her 48th among the Symetra players.
“Big Break Florida,” as the name implies, gives contestants a chance to make a name for themselves as up-and-coming golfers. The show airs on Mondays at 6 p.m. Pacific time.
“You don’t want to miss it,” Parks wrote on her Facebook page, where friends and colleagues have been posting messages of encouragement.
The show tests the contestants’ golf skills and mental toughness. It’s the mental part of the game where Parks has struggled, she revealed in an interview on Golf Channel’s web site.
Introduced to the game by her father at the age of 9, Parks was encouraged by her family to be “a trailblazer.” But during her playing days at UW, she realized her temper on the course made her scores inconsistent.
After graduating from the university in 2012, she moved to Arizona to continue her golf career but waited a year turn to start playing professionally because “I wasn’t ready,” she told Golf Channel. “I knew I had the talent, but on the mental side I had a long way to go, and I really didn’t know how to fix it.”
It was after she joined the Symetra Tour in 2013 that she gained better control of her emotions and her scores began improving. “Sometimes you just have to rely on your faith and let God take care of the rest,” she said.