Gabriela Ruffels – Better Late than Never

Ruffels Rises to High Amateur Standing in Brief Time

It is time to once more harp on my perennial question. Why am I so coordinated in one thing but not in another? Why can’t physical skill be substituted to another activity? Why isn’t it transferable? As it turns out, it;s just me. There are indeed people who can get a second ticket punched.  It’s Greek to me, but Gabriela Ruffels doesn’t seem to have any problem rising up the golfing ranks, and doing it in record time.

Once in a while, we see someone who is able to change sports, or some other set of professions in life without skipping a beat – but c’mon on. This is ridiculous. Gabriela Ruffels is a senior at the University of Southern California. She is, of course, on the golf team, but that isn’t what’s happening for her these days. As we all know, college stuff is taking quite a beating from the coronavirus, but Ruffels is not without a place to go, or an important mission to undertake.

Last year, Gabriela won the U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship. Brava! That’s a great win for anyone. The unusual part is that she had played golf for around five years, give or take a little. It makes me feel empathy for all the wunderkinds who have been going through the junior grind for years, waiting for their chance to fight it out for a card. So, along comes this late teen or twenty at the outside, and takes the national amateur trophy.

What was she doing before, you might wonder? She was playing tennis, but not for fun and games,. Actually, she was doing sort of the same thing on the court that she’s doing on the course now. It all makes sense that she’d be there. Both her parents are pro tennis players, and Gabriela herself is pretty hot property among the rising luminaries in the sport. The difference was one that strikes at the very core of excellence, something that commonly curses people in pursuits that require extreme physical skill, accuracy and agility. She hated to practice. Boy, have I been there.

That is, she hated to practice tennis, a game that requires the same sophisticated training a golfer receives, at high speed. By her own admission, Ruffels is not a mechanical player at anything, but a “feeling” player in general. Picking up her first bag of clubs, her transference of tennis chops to golf was overt and unapologetic. That includes tennis terms that bend a shot to one’s satisfaction applied to the golf swing, whether drawing or fading.

Included in the impending feeling of burn-out on the tennis court, Ruffels didn’t really enjoy the “aloneness” of it all, and was surprised that golf rivals could be friends at the same time. Apparently, there is a lesser tendency toward bloodthirstiness on the fairways than there is between the nets.

But what is keeping Ruggels busy while school is struggling to straighten itself out? She’s playing a second major within the space of a month. She almost pulled off the amateur again, losing in a heartbreak, but here comes the ANA Inspiration that includes a field of six amateurs.

As a reminder, this has all taken place in a period of five years. She did not repeat the “Who am I, and do I compare?” stuff that sports inevitably asks you to answer. She wasn’t about to answer it twice. And, starting out ranked number 800 in the game didn’t seem to bother her at all. I’m sure she understood that such a ranking was a temporary situation.

So, my question still isn’t answered for my own case. However, I am reminded that some are good there or there, and are just as good here. For Gabriela Ruffels, it’s better late than never, and she’s all caught up and ready to play. I don’t get it, but there you are.

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