Hannah Dirksen of the Cascades fell into the sport of golf – literally.
A competitive figure skater when she was younger, Dirksen was told by doctors that she had to give up the sport or risk permanent damage to her back.
The news was devastating to the then 14-year-old but she hung up the skates and headed to the links and hasn’t looked back since.
“Doctors did a lot of testing on me and I told me I was born with a weakness in my spine,” she said. “That and a stress fracture from all the falling made me stop – I was told if I kept doing figure skating I would paralyze myself.”
She decided to follow in the footsteps of her older sister Kailey Dirksen and pick up a set of clubs.
“I always wanted to the same thing she was doing and she was very successful in golf so I did the same,” she said, laughing. “We’re both very competitive and I kind of wanted to beat her butt a little bit.”
Her father was also a motivating factor and the fact that she lived minutes from the Mission Golf and Country Club helped speed up her learning process with the sport.
“We’ve always had golf in our life and with the Mission course we can just walk there,” she said. “It was the best way for me to develop my game and my dad is friends with everyone there and they were so supportive so it helped.”
She admits that golf can be a frustrating game but it can also be extremely rewarding.
“I get all my anger out on the course,” she said, chuckling. “In figure skating other people are judging what you do but I love how golf is based on your ability alone. I love the challenge of it.”
This year has seen Dirksen step up on the Cascades golf team and put together some impressive rounds. It’s her second year on the team and she’s evolved into a leadership role with the team. Dirksen placed third at the opening tournament in the Okanagan but then had a breakthrough performance on Sept. 20 at the second tournament in Surrey. She placed first, beating out the second place golfer by seven strokes.
“Starting off the year I didn’t play as well as I could have,” she said, of the first tournament. “I felt a lot of pressure but the second week when I won at Northview it boosted my confidence quite a bit and felt more comfortable.”
She continued the momentum with a second place showing in Victoria on Sept. 27 and then capped off the season with in Chilliwack on Oct. 4. The win in Chilliwack clinched Dirksen the Pacwest women’s title. She shot an 83 and 76 to seal the victory.
“That was my best round of the season,” she said. “I started off a little rough but I pushed hard and buckled down. I couldn’t stop smiling.”
The win sends Dirksen to the CCAA National golf championships, also in Chilliwack from Oct. 13 to 16. She will have home course advantage at the event, which sees some of the best young golfers from all across the country compete.
She said she’s ready to take on some of Canada’s best.
“My confidence heading into (the PacWest finale) was probably at a six, now I feel like I’m at an 11,” she said. “It just gives me so much hope heading into nationals.”
Dirksen said course knowledge and familiarty could help to give her and her teammates an edge.
“Just to know you’re at a course where you know every inch of the golf course, it really drops a lot of the nerves and wondering what you’re heading into for nationals. It’s kind of a relief to be playing at home, and it feels really great.”
“It’s good because we have such a huge advantage,” she said. “We know the course so well and what to expect and what to do when you’re in trouble. I’m out there playing almost everyday. I’d love to win and I know I have the ability do that.”
The 2013 MEI grad still has three years of athletic eligibility left at UFV and said she hops to continue to learn and grow under the Cascades coaching staff.
Both of last year’s champions, the Holland Hurricanes (men) and the Cégep Champlain St. Lawrence Lions (women) – will be returning to nationals to defend their titles.
For more information on the tournament and the team, visit ufvcascades.ca.