I still remember when the dream became real for me.
I was around 11 or 12 years old and watching Paula Creamer at the U.S. Open on TV. She was my favorite player because she wore pink. She ended up doing really well at that tournament and I started dreaming of being like her one day.
At that point I was just being silly, but that's when I fell in love with the game.
Julienne Soo began golfing in her home of South Yarra, Australia, at the age of 7.
My dad was always a keen golfer, and he finally let me go to the course with him. I was pretty good even when I first began, and he saw that and encouraged me to see what I could do.
I was 7 years old the first time I went out to the course with him, but I didn't start seriously playing until I was about 10. I played my first tournament then and my first 18 holes at 12. My dad wanted it to be a progression for me, so every year I would do a little more and it became bigger and bigger.
From the beginning I think I always had my eyes set on becoming a pro. Australia is home, but I wanted the best competition and I knew I would get that at the U.S. collegiate level so I started the recruiting process. I was committed to a school and decommitted really late. It was one of the lowest and most stressful points in my life.
I didn't have a lot of options after that and I didn't know if I would even get to come to college.
My current swing coach lived in Texas and he told my dad and me to look at Oklahoma. I remember thinking oh my gosh I don't even know where that is. I was looking at West Coast schools, but I tried to keep my mind open. And that's when I met Coach Vero (Head Coach Veronique Drouin-Luttrell).
At the time I was in school and it's really difficult for me to make a four-day trip out to the U.S. and come back just because of travel time and the time difference. But Coach didn't let that be an issue. We started Facetiming and she would show me around the campus and the golf facilities. I would be up at midnight on Facetime with this coach I had never met talking about OU. We would talk for a long time and her friendly nature was a nice change. I always got a good vibe from her.
In the end I was between two schools. On paper everything matched up as far as academics and facilities. You couldn't split the two. But it came down to a gut feeling in the end.
I had something inside me nagging me, “You have to choose Oklahoma.”
It was a month before signing day.
Soo signed her National Letter of Intent to become a Sooner just one month after committing to Oklahoma.
I had a decent junior career, but in Australia we graduate in December, so I had a span of about eight months where I had nothing to focus on but golf. I felt so good in August coming into college because I had been playing some of the best golf of my life.
I flew into Texas and we drove up to Norman from there and I remember I was SO nervous, on the verge of crying because I had no idea what to expect. I got here and I was completely shocked. On Facetime everything looked great but it didn't compare to being there in real life.
I was so excited to start playing golf that during my first qualifier I couldn't even hold my club properly. I remember being relieved after finding out I made the first lineup, but then it turned into nerves again because I had to go play an actual tournament.
From day one my first year of college was a struggle. It was such a big change for me. I'm across the world from home and I was putting so much pressure on myself. I had big expectations coming from junior golf and it was hard to be feeling so good and then having a bad season and not understanding that.
I lost all my confidence in my abilities and I didn't trust myself. It was a snowball effect and on top of just the golf problem, I was having to adjust to life as a freshman in college. At the end of the year I felt like a mess. When we finished our last tournament last season my game was a wreck and I was lacking confidence and belief.
It was at some point in the summer that I asked myself, “Is this how I want my college golf career to keep going the rest of the time I'm here?"
I had never thought like that before, but I couldn't lose sight of my dream.
After recording a 78.35 season-stroke average last year, Soo is on pace to fire the lowest season-stroke average in program history with a 71.77.
I set out a whole plan of what was going wrong and I told myself I'd work my butt off until I could find a system that worked for me. I realized one of my biggest problems was not asking for help. I confided in my swing coach in Dallas and mainly my dad.
My dad came to Norman to stay with me for the summer. On days when it was stinking hot outside he would go play with me, and I didn't have a car so he drove me around everywhere. I would wake up at 5:30 in the morning so we could go practice before the sun came up. We would practice until about 10 a.m. because it was too hot, and then we would practice again from about 3 p.m. to 9 p.m.
It was like a full-time job because it was every day. I might get a day off once every two weeks, but that's how committed I was. I was going to do this until I could do it in my sleep.
The results were slow, but by the start of my sophomore season I felt ready. I had practiced so much that by that point I had made the game easier for myself. My first tournament was rough, but going into the Schooner Fall Classic at home I was confident and comfortable being out there.
I look back on the fall season and I'm so happy that everything finally fell into place. My golf game from last year until now is like night and day. This spring is now the best golf I've ever played in my life. I even won my first collegiate tournament.
I knew something good could happen if I kept my head on straight. We were in Arizona for spring break and the course suited me really well. All you needed to do was hit it right and trust that your putts would be good, and my strength is my long game.
The last day I bogeyed my final hole and one of my opponents' dad came up to tell me I won by four. Celebrating with my teammates after we all got back to the clubhouse is a moment I will always remember.
I wasn't sure how postseason worked last year, so when we found out we didn't make it to regionals I was bummed like I had let the team down. That was something that motivated me during the summer. I wanted to make sure I did my part in contributing to making it to regionals this season and hopefully nationals. At the end of the day I never want to let this team down.
I'll be the first to tell you that last year was a complete disappointment. But thanks to a change in mindset, determination to get better, all-day practices at the Charlie Coe Center this summer and help from family and coaches, my dream is alive and closer than ever before.