Brittany Marchand started hitting golf balls on the Practice Tee at Brampton GC 22 years ago under the watchful eye of her grandpa Reg Lawrence. Who would have known at the time that this young girl, who loved to figure skate, would have the drive and determination to make the Team Ontario and Team Canada golf squads, earn a golf scholarship to an American university and then play professional golf for six years?
At the age of 29, Brittany is ready for new challenges in life, but golf will always be in her veins. Here’s a glimpse into the life of a little girl who dreamed of playing on the LPGA Tour and made it happen. Here’s to a life well-played with lots more to come!
Golf can be a cruel game, but something keeps you coming back.
After three consecutive missed cuts in July and August on the Symetra Tour, Brittany Marchand, the most successful professional golfer to come out of Brampton GC in 100 years, made the decision in her head that it was time for a career change.
It is a mind game, isn’t it?
With no pressure and the “weight of the world” off her shoulders, the 29-year-old made two cuts in September pocketing $1,098 and $1,524.
Then came the last two tournaments of her professional career and she closed it out in style. At the Carolina Golf Classic presented by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Brittany equalled her career best score in a pro event at 17-under (69-69-66-67) to finish T3 and earn $14,102. Then in the Symetra Tour Championship she shot a career low 63, 9-under, in the second round on the way to finishing T30 and earning $1,985. Would almost make one think twice about retirement!
“After only making two cuts in 2019 on the LPGA Tour and having only a half season on the Symetra Tours in 2020 due to COVID-19, I really wanted to give it one more shot,” says Brittany, who played on the Symetra Tour in 2016 and 2017, played on the LPGA Tour in 2018 and 2019 and then planned to play a full season on the Symetra Tour in 2020 after losing her status on the LPGA Tour.
“I played OK in 2021, nothing spectacular, but I did have a strong finish. Even if I had won the Carolina Golf Classic, I would not have changed my mind about retiring, but I probably would have thought about it,” Marchand adds. “The 63 was great. I just was in a flow that was fun. I was enjoying myself out there and felt I couldn’t really miss much. No bogeys, so nine birdies. Again, I wasn’t having any second thoughts. I was just happy to end my career on a fun note.”
“I think the announcement surprised some people, but the fire to keep playing was dying inside me. The grind, the travel, the missed cuts, being away from my husband was all adding up,” says Brittany, who married her North Carolina State sweetheart, Jorge, in a COVID courthouse wedding in 2020, after being together for seven-plus years. The two Chemical Engineering graduates from NC State moved to the Charlotte area in April to be close to his parents and are planning a big, family and friends, wedding in 2022.
Brittany’s path to professional golf started at the age of seven when her grandfather, Reg Lawrence, a long-time member at Brampton, brought her to the club for the first time.
“You could say that my grandpa lived, ate and breathed golf and he was a good player,” Marchand says, noting he came from South Africa where he had played cricket and soccer and ran marathons. He learned to play golf in Canada.
“He tried to get all of his grandchildren into golf. He brought us to the range and let us hit balls, but he was pretty serious and wanted us to stay focused, which is tough when you’re so young. My first memories of golf are of not really liking it. I was so into competitive figure skating. He put me into a junior program at Brampton with all boys and I thought, “This isn’t much fun. I want to be with my girlfriends having fun,” says Brittany, who moved from Mississaugua to Orangeville with her family when she was 10.
It was at nearby Shelburne G&CC where she met some girls, made some friends, started playing and then competing as her love for the game grew. Four years later Brittany returned to Brampton to refine her game. She made Team Ontario at the age of 15 and met golf coach Ann Carroll who started to guide, teaching and mentor Brittany.
In 2009 she started to make headway qualifying for the US Girl’s Junior Championship at Trump National GC in Bedminister, NJ. “I didn’t make the cut, but I do remember Donald Trump making a grand entrance flying into the course in his helicopter to meet the competitors. I got my photograph taken with him. Can you imagine that?” she says with a laugh.
“My family and I knew nothing about golf scholarships and how to apply, so I decided to play a couple of tournaments in the US to get some exposure and I must have sent out applications to most of the top-50 schools and universities in the US. I went on some school visits and dropped by some other ones just to check out the campuses. I read somewhere that a Canadian (Matt Hill) won the NCAA Division 1 Men’s Golf Championship in 2009 when he was at NC State, so I looked up the school and went for a visit,” says Marchand, who finished T2 at both the 2010 Ontario and Canadian Girls Championships. Brittany committed to NC State in late 2009 for the fall of 2010 and in 2011, two more Canadians, Augusta James, and Vivian Tsui, joined the squad. She would go on to win the Ontario Women’s Amateur in 2012, finish third in 2014 and T2 in 2015.
“I loved it there,” says Brittany, who won three college tournaments individually and had a T6 at 2012 NCAA Division I Women’s Championship. She attended NC State, playing golf for four years and staying one more year to finish her Chemical Engineering degree and graduate in 2015.
“When I was in high school my teacher suggested I should think about Engineering as a career. I was really good in math and science and physics. International students weren’t allowed to opt of a general degree, so I had to choose a major at NC State. I remember going on the internet and typing in, “highest paid engineering job” and it said, “Chemical Engineering,” so I decided on that,” says Marchand, who was not ready to put her new degree to work just yet.
She went to the LPGA Tour Q-school in the fall of 2015 and missed qualifying for the final stage by just one stroke. It was heartbreaking at the time, but a lesson well learned, she says. The next two years were spent playing, learning, and living on the lower tier Symetra Tour until she broke out in 2017 with a victory at the PHC Classic, which would help propel her onto the LPGA Tour for 2018 and 2019.
“I learned a lot in 2016 and 2017. It was a big adjustment. The travel, being on my own, living out of my car, not having any money, staying with billet families, learning the courses, the daily grind, the pressure of needing to make the cut on Friday and finding a team of people who could support me with my game and my health. It doesn’t just prepare you for golf, but the process prepares you for life and trying to get better every day,” she says.
The highlight of 2017, as well as being career highlight, was making the most of a sponsor’s exemption to play in the Manulife Classic in Cambridge. Marchand shot rounds of 67-70-67 and was T9 heading into the final round, five shots behind Lexi Thompson. It was the first time Marchand made the cut in an LPGA event, and she would go on to card an 81 on the Sunday to finish T46. Inspiring is the word that still comes to mind when she thinks back on the tournament.
“It was a turning point in my career. It really showed me and allowed me to believe that I belonged there. That I could compete with the best women in the game. Despite the final round, it was a real confidence booster and to do it with the support of all those Canadian fans and my family and friends in attendance was extra special,” she says.
While the honorary member at Brampton GC had played in the LPGA Tour Canadian Women’s Open in 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017 her dream of being a member of the LPGA became reality in 2018. She will never forget teeing it up in her first card-carry tournament in the LOTTE Championship at Ko Olina GC in Kopolei on the island of Oahu in Hawaii. She went 72-72-74-75 to finish T50, at plus-5 and pocket $6,053.
She posted her one and only top-10 on the LPGA Tour at the 2018 Thornberry Creek Classic finishing T-7 with rounds of 64-72-66-69 to finish at 17-under par and earn $40,862 – the largest paycheque of her career.
Another career highlight came in the first round of the 2018 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship when Marchand aced No. 17 to win a KIA Sorento that she still drives today. By season’s end she made 13 cuts in17 events and earned $138,422 to finish 89th on the money list and keep her card.
2019 wasn’t what she had hoped it would be. In a nutshell, she made two cuts on 17 starts on the LPGA Tour and lost her playing card. She made some off-season changes to try and improve her distance off the tee and she quickly lost confidence in her ability to compete. I had no idea where the ball was going. Missed cuts, mentally shaken, losing money every week “led me down a very dark spiral of not playing well,” she says. “Every Friday after missing a cut I was looking for a job as a chemical engineering and thinking about calling it quits. In the moment it was a very difficult time, but I learned to preserve, to work through the challenges and I’m proud of that.
2020 was another disappointment with COVID and missing practically an entire season. She decided to give it one more go around and that’s what she did in 2021.
Another career highlight included being a member of Golf Canada’s Team Canada for the past seven years, plus a year on the development squad in 2011. She traveled to the World Amateur Championships in Japan, the British Amateur three times and experienced many training camps with Team Canada members. “Those are opportunities and experiences I would never have had on my own and certainly helped me develop into a seasoned professional golfer,” she says.
“I have my Brampton family, my NC State family, my Team Canada family and all of my family and supporters who have been with me for this journey. It has been a fantastic experience that all started with my grandpa’s love for the game. Sadly, he has Alzheimer’s Disease and doesn’t know us anymore, but I’m so thankful for the gift he gave me,” she adds. “I also need to thank the Brampton members who supported throughout my journey. Without their support I would not have been able to stay out on tour for those six years.”
What’s next, we that is what she is trying to figure out. “I’d love to be working in 2022, but I’m not sure if I am going to go the engineering route. I have learned that I am really a people person,” Brittany says, noting that taking an MBA online is a possibility.
She ends the interview with one last memory.
“I’m playing in the Toronto Star Amateur at Weston G&CC. My mom’s at the green watching and my grandpa is beside me on the tee. “I’m thinking eight-iron is too much club. He tells me to hit the eight-iron. So, with a lot of defiance, I took the eight-iron and I hit it heavy. It goes in the hole for an ace. My mother is screaming in delight from the green and my grandfather says, “I told you it was an eight-iron. We walked off the tee together smiling. I’ll never forget that one!