LPGA great joins Sanford POWER Golf Academy team

Cindy Rarick has played golf worldwide. Now golfers in South Dakota will benefit

Cindy Rarick smiles and waves to the crowd on the golf course. She and two others are in identical blue blazers for the golf tournament.

Cindy Rarick’s route to becoming a well-known professional golfer went through a stage where she rode horses in competition. Then another where she liked to play tennis. Then, almost by accident, she arrived at making golf a passion that drives her to this day.

Rarick, a longtime Sanford Health International Board member, became a member of the Sanford POWER Golf Academy coaching staff this week.

She brings with her an impressive legacy, winning six times on the LPGA Tour with 48 top-10 finishes over her career.

“I’m really looking forward to the experience,” Rarick said. “It’s great to be able to work here — it’s a beautiful place — and work with such great people. I want to help people have great experiences and help them become better as golfers too, so they can enjoy the game more.”

Rarick’s role will include time with young golfers, their parents and adult golfers of all levels.

“Cindy will be an integral part of our Team 605 coaching staff,” said Todd Kolb, director of the Sanford POWER Golf Academy, based in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. “Her life experiences as a tour professional will add great new and unique insights for the development of our players.”

Those life experiences as they pertain to golf did not began in the conventional way. That is, she did not grow up next to a golf course, nor were either of her parents or siblings serious golfers.

What we can conclude for sure from her introduction to the game and her progress thereafter is that whatever kind of competition she was involved in as a kid, she did it at 100 miles an hour. And then when golf became the next big thing in her life, she quit looking for something else.

Rarick finds a sport

“My parents were just weekend golfers, but I’m so thankful they loved to play,” Rarick said. “I was playing tennis for a while, but nobody else in my family played. So when my folks went out to the golf course, I went with them.”

The usual pace of improvement in this sport did not apply. Shortly after picking up the game, she asked the coach of the boys team at her high school — they did not have a girls team — if it was OK for her to play. The coach said it was fine with him. Soon after, he recognized her potential and encouraged Rarick’s mother to find someone to give her private lessons.

Within two years she won the Arizona State Junior girls championship. And shortly after that she got a scholarship offer from the University of Hawaii. This offer came in the mail without warning, by the way. She went on to win the Hawaii State Match Play Championship. The next year she won the Hawaii Women’s Stroke Play Championship.

The scholarship offer signified a pivotal point in her career. Her father died in January of her senior year of high school, and Rarick, the youngest in the family, was looking toward an uncertain future.

“That was a life changer,” she said. “My mom was quite stunned and I was in disbelief for a while, too. And then I’m like, ‘Oh my God, this really is real. I’m going to do it. I’m definitely going to do it.’”

Becoming an established pro

The Division I college scholarship did not represent a direct route to pro stardom. Rarick never let self-doubt become an obstacle she could not get past, however.

While working toward getting her game to an LPGA level, Rarick played on mini-tours and lived frugally. Golf has taken her to 27 different countries in all, so those first few years she went everywhere. When she earned a conditional LPGA Tour card, she played well enough that first year to qualify as fully exempt the next season.

Like the scholarship to Hawaii, it was a step forward in a lifetime in the game.

“I never lost my card,” she said. “A lot of players would get a year in and then lose their cards and have to go back to Q school. It’s a hard life to live when you’re so uncertain about what your next year is going to be like.”

She went on to win six times on the tour, earning more than $2 million. She wanted to win more than that.

The game for a lifetime

“Of course, I was frustrated at times,” she said. “But looking at the big picture, winning six times is a pretty good career. I loved the life.”

Andy North, a two-time U.S. Open winner who serves as host of the Sanford International golf tournament and is also a member of the Sanford Health Board of Trustees, has known Rarick for more than three decades.

“Her heart is in the right place for golf,” North said. “She’s gone from being a good player to getting very involved in the women’s issues on the tour. She’s been the chair of our International Board the last two years and this is going to be a nice step to get her more involved at Sanford.”

It will be a step forward for Sanford as well. Those who seek her coaching and counsel within the Golf Academy will be talking to someone who identifies with golfers of all ages and skill levels. She understands the game’s challenges and also its joys.

“The experiences I’ve had in my life in this sport — I would not change it for anything,” Rarick said. “I can only encourage everybody that I know to pick up the game. Because it’s a great game.”

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Posted In Company News, Golf, Innovations, Sanford International, Sports Medicine

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