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Rounds of Golf and Life

WRITTEN BY Lisa Cornwell
WRITTEN BY Lisa Cornwell

Written by Lisa Cornwell
Former Razorback Women’s Golfer & Golf Channel commentator

The beauty of the game of golf is that success isn’t determined by a single shot or even 18 holes. Success is determined by the summation of multiple rounds that can often see ebbs and flows, from shot to shot, from adversity to triumph.

For me, it has been a similar journey with the game I have played for a lifetime. I had most of my success in golf when I was 15-16-17 years old. Unfortunately, I suffered a big burnout with the game and so when I got to college sort of my love for golf had diminished greatly. I hate that. Looking back it’s not a regret because it was just where I was, but I regret the fact that I didn’t love it the way I did before so that I could have really enjoyed the college experience. I hate to say that it was a struggle but I just wasn’t as passionate about it.

I put so much pressure on myself to try to love golf again that I just wish I would have been more vocal and talked to people about it. To admit that I maybe wasn’t in the best place with it (golf) and either try to work through it or determine if maybe I was making the right decisions. I think one of the hardest things in life is to disappoint people and I don’t think you ever want to purposefully do that. I think that I could have found my passion a little bit with a way to make the game fun again instead of putting myself in a corner. If I have one regret it is that I could have gone to Bev Lewis, Melissa Harwood-Rom or Jeri Thorpe to have that conversation about where I was and how I could be better and be better mentally. You know so much of what we do, either in sports or life, is all about where we are with that in our head. To be able to talk about that and communicate is really important. I wish that I would have done that.

Cornwell

Before college, all I wanted to do was play professional golf.  The natural segue way was college golf and then professional golf which is what a lot of my friends that I grew up playing junior golf did. But then when I got into college I honestly didn’t know what I was going to do because I didn’t love golf anymore and I didn’t want to play professionally. I thought about law and I event took the LSAT and I was prepared to go to law school and then decided I didn’t want to be a lawyer so I got into sales because my sister and Dad were in sales and they were successful.

But I was never really enthusiastic about it (sales) every day and I had some friends who were in television in Little Rock. They worked at KARK, the NBC affiliate, and so I was around the newsroom a little bit. There was something about it that reminded me of being an athlete – you know the adrenaline rush, the excitement and the pressure.

So I decided to go back (to school). I had already gotten my degree but could get a minor in broadcast journalism and do an internship. I just fell in love with it. I was kind of a late entrant into the television business. I was in my late 20s and it didn’t matter because I finally found something that I loved. And it reminds me of being an athlete. Often times you feel that adrenaline rush when you are trying to get something ready and on air.

Cornwell

The last dozen years or so I’ve been in sports television and so I think just having a broad knowledge of sports in general in helpful. I’ve always been a sports freak since I was kid – I love every sport so I watched and paid attention. But of course, being able to be a part of the athletic department in the city where I grew up was huge for me.

I got to watch how programs were built and see how they operate, not just the team that I was on but other teams and other student-athletes and coaches and getting to know them and how those programs worked. This was especially helpful early in my television career when I was covering college athletics, most recently at the Big Ten Network. Knowing how college athletics worked was a huge benefit for my career.

There are so many things that I have taken with me from being a Razorback student-athlete. All the time, I am using skills I developed including time management, work ethic, commitment all of those things that make you a successful athlete make you successful in life, business and in my job. It’s so transferable it’s crazy and people don’t realize that.

Cornwell Quote

The most successful athletes are the ones who put in the most time and that it is not just based on some God-given skill. Sure people are talented and they have maybe certain talents they are born with but I think when you look at successful athletes – much more than not – the work horse is going to be the one who out-performs anybody else and I don’t care how much talent you have. It’s the same way in life. It’s the same way in my job. The more I prepare and research the better my performance is, the better my show is and the more confident I feel. It’s such a huge part of it in anything, the confidence. Successful athletes are confident in their abilities. People in my profession are confident because they are knowledgeable.

I’m with the Golf Channel. I’ve been here a little bit over three years now and we are based in Orlando, Florida, so that is where I am. During the winter months, I love it because the weather is fantastic. Summers can be a little brutal but so can Arkansas so it’s not that much different. Obviously golf is huge here so that has been a big asset and there is no state income tax – I’m not going to lie – who doesn’t like that?

I have so many memories of my time in Fayetteville on and off the course. There was one time I remember of us being in the van and (former women’s athletics department administrators) Melissa Harwood-Rom and Tracey Stehlik were in there. The memory isn’t even about the golf, it was just the kind of experience that is special about college athletics, that bonding, comradery and having fun. That was really the first time I remember that happening. I just remember being in this big van, all of us crammed in there, and we were just laughing. To me, it’s just what college athletics is all about. I mean you want to be successful but at the same time, you want to be friends. You want to appreciate the time together and you want those memories to stand out as much as winning. To me nothing stands out more than that moment.

Cornwell Quote

Although I live in Orlando and travel the world as part of my job, the University of Arkansas will always hold a special place in my heart. Nothing makes you feel older than being named the first scholarship player in program history and people always joke with me about that. I wear that as a badge of honor. When I see Stacy (Lewis) doing well, when I see Gaby (Lopez) doing well. When I’m out at tournaments, I always go up and talk to those girls. You know you’re supposed to be unbiased in my job but how can I not pull for a Razorback?

I bleed Razorback Red. I love seeing them be successful and I keep up with the team. I’ve seen our players out at NCAAs and I love seeing our girls out there and it’s so exciting for me. It’s a huge sense of pride. It could be the guys’ team too I mean you turn on the TV and see the guys doing well on the Web.com Tour or the professional ranks. Even if I don’t know them, I love it.

Cornwell with Hogs

It’s hard to advise anyone to be passionate about something, but that is what makes people successful I think. When I look back at when I loved the game the most, it was when I was the best at it. I wanted to do it 24/7. I guess my advice would be, whether you are a student-athlete or anyone else, is to find your passion because that is where you’re going to be successful.

Unfortunately, a lot of people never do find that and I think that it is important to always keep searching for that, whether you’re in college or a few years after college, or if you are like me and you’re in your late 20s.  I think it’s one of the most rewarding things in the world because we spend more of our time doing our job than anything else. For student-athletes they spend more of their time doing that. That would be my biggest advice – do everything you can to find your passion.

Lisa Cornwell