Olivia Mehaffey – Strange, indeed. As a golfer, I was terrible. Not even my great scores could take the fun out of shooting. Getting through the day was always a struggle, and I never worried about golf.

Even if I teed it up and shot an 80, I wouldn’t have cared. I worried about myself and recognised that I was in a deplorable situation.

Thin grey line for presentations

Olivia Mehaffey was getting ready to leave for Q-School on the Ladies European Tour just three days after the death of her father from cancer in December.

The Northern Irish player, who had a stellar amateur career, stated, “I knew it was coming and I knew he was very poorly.”

He compelled me to assure him that I would go, and I promised to do so. It was the most challenging time of my life.

Knowing I was going to lose him made me want everything to be perfect before coming to the United States, applying to and attending Q-School, and officially commencing my childhood ambition.

In qualifying for the European Tour, the 24-year-old said she “hid my head in the sand” after her father died.

She stated it was difficult to spend two weeks there alone because no one knew she had left.

Not that Q-School is fun in and of itself, but to have that going on at the same time is quite trying.

“I expect it to go down as the toughest tournament I’ve ever played in when I look back on my career in golf.”
Mehaffey’s form fell after a promising start to the year, during which she finished in the top 20 five times in her first six events after earning her European Tour membership.

Mehaffey claims she reached her “breaking point” in the summer and knew then that she needed help.

It was overdue and perhaps should have occurred a few months earlier. “It finally hit me,” she said.

You know you’re having a hard time, but when other people see it, they start to tell you to slow down or get some help. In my case, my loved ones were pleading with me to take a break, and my friends were telling me the same thing.

It wasn’t until I was at my wit’s end that I understood. I was crying my eyes out after the first round of a tournament.

My quest to better mental health began after I withdrew from the competition and returned home.

“I turned off” – Olivia Mehaffey

In August, Mehaffey competed in the World Invitational and later said that after consulting with loved ones, she made the “difficult” choice to retire from golf.

After Galgorm, I hosted a big party for my friends and family before returning to the States. Three people specifically approached me and asked me to not travel to the United States the following day, a memory I will always hold dear.

My brain was sending off warning signals. For me, golf is a means of release. No matter what I aim towards, I’ll get diverted from the main issue.

My immediate thought was, “You’re trying to escape your issues by coming here. Your issue goes far beyond the game of golf.

As I look back on it, I realise it was one of the smartest choices I’ve made in a long time.

Mehaffey went to therapy after getting back from his trip and didn’t play golf for a month.

Olivia Mehaffey is starting to keep a journal about her efforts to improve her mental health.

There was a lot of introspection and self-examination. I really needed the time off,” she continued.

Being dependent on others is difficult for me because I prefer to take charge of every situation.

Being around loved ones and receiving encouragement from them is comforting. Since I started doing it, my mental health has greatly improved.

I swore to myself that I would never give up.

Because of the overwhelming response to a social media post regarding mental health, Mehaffey has decided to start a blog to inspire people to share about their own experiences.

Messages from individuals “struggling and going through the same thing” were “overwhelming,” she said.

No one ever heard me speak. Following the death of my father, I became irritated when people expressed sympathy for my loss by asking how I was doing or expressing condolences.

When asked how I am, I usually respond by saying, “Everything’s fine.” However, I have realized that I need to be more honest with the people in my life and admit that it has been difficult.

“I could have easily disappeared for two months without telling anyone where I was going.

“There’s more to being an inspiration in sports than just winning trophies. For me, being an example is crucial.
Mehaffey is planning to return to golf after a hiatus next year, and she plans to spend most of her season competing on the Ladies European Tour.

Never once did I intend to give up. She said, “When I took this break, I knew it was time to get better, and I planned to return when I was ready.”

A part of me is returning, and it feels good. It has been difficult.

I feel like I am starting to get back into that competitive mindset, so I can’t wait to get back next year.

Hopefully, in the future, I’ll be able to say that these experiences made me a stronger, more resilient person.

A person who has “been through what I have been through” can “get through anything, basically.”