Golfer Turner signs with Southern Arkansas
By Keith Sparks
Liberty Hill High School senior Mackenzy Turner put pen to paper on April 11 to officially become a Southern Arkansas University Mulerider. Turner, who is set to play in the State Golf Tournament alongside her Panther teammates, will play golf for the Muleriders on scholarship.
Turner visited SAU on somewhat of a whim after visiting another school nearby, but she’s glad she decided to do so.
“Out of all the schools I visited, Southern Arkansas just had the best feel to me,” Turner said. “I had actually just visited another school, and I really liked that one, and when we were driving back home my dad was like, ‘Hey, let’s just visit this school and see what you think.’ I kind of had my mind made up that I wanted to go to that other school, so visiting this one was kind of just to look, but when I got there I fell in love with the team and the atmosphere.”
Turner has no family members in Arkansas, but a coach from a different college in Arkansas was one of the first to begin the recruiting process while Turner was a sophomore at LHHS. From that point on, she decided to consider a few different schools in Arkansas in addition to some in Texas.
After touring campus with some of her future teammates and getting an opportunity to play on a couple of the local golf courses, Turner’s decision was made.
“I went on a day that they didn’t have school, so I met some of the girls on the team and they just walked me around the campus, then we drove out and saw the golf course in town,” Turner said. “Then I went up for another visit and actually got to play the nicer course that they have a little farther away, and that was really awesome.”
After deciding she wanted to play college soccer as a junior last year, a turn of events brought Turner to where she is now. A soccer injury forced her to reevaluate some things, and it quickly became clear to her that she was passionate about golf, not to mention talented at it.
“My junior year, during soccer season I said, ‘No, I want to play college soccer,’ so I quit golf for like five months, then I hurt my shoulder playing soccer,” Turner said. “I was the fourth girl to make our team, so I decided to play district for my team, and I ended up doing well and went on to Regionals. At Regionals, when I didn’t make it to State, it really crushed me, so I said, ‘I guess I really do kind of love this sport,’ and it’s like a natural kind of thing that I’m good at, so at that time, I decided that I’m going to play college golf, and I started practicing really hard at it.”
“Practicing really hard” may be an understatement considering her practice schedule, which she’ll ramp up even more during the summer in preparation for her freshman season at SAU.
“I usually try to practice about three hours a day,” Turner said. “I’ll probably bump that up a little more throughout the summer, since I’ll have more time. I’ll practice in the morning, then I’ll practice in the afternoon when it’s cooler. I’ll also play in some competitive tournaments over the summer just to keep my game up.”
Although she’ll continue to tune every aspect of her game, Turner said she hopes to see the biggest improvement mentally, so she’s able to remain calm during crunch time at the collegiate level.
“Definitely my mental game,” Turner said of what she hopes to improve. “I’ve been practicing a lot off the course, trying to shore up my short game and get my drives going. Mentally, I want to work on that, so when I am playing good and we get to those last few holes, I can keep it together and come out with a good score.”
The support Turner has received from her parents throughout the recruiting process has been invaluable, she said, and that support remained through her decision to play soccer and the decision to play golf that followed.
“My parents were both super supportive,” Turner said. “They supported my decision when I said I wanted to play soccer, and then they supported me even more when I said I wanted to play golf. I don’t think they had their hearts set on any school. I think they just wanted me to choose what they thought was best for me. They were ecstatic when I finally chose. It was a big relief for us, because it was a super stressful time trying to decide where I wanted to go.”
The combination of her academic and athletic scholarships will equal a full ride for Turner, who’ll pursue a career in business marketing at SAU beginning in the fall.