Days before Stanford’s 2023 spring opener, the reigning national champions were presented with a challenge. Lineup stalwarts in Rachel Heck and Brooke Seay would not make the trip to Palos Verdes for the Therese Hession Challenge due to injuries. More troubling news would follow: Sadie Englemann tweaked her back.
After finding out the news from an athletic trainer, head coach Anne Walker insisted Sadie spend the next few days with ice and rest. Assuming Sadie would follow suit, Walker maintained business as usual. Sitting up in her office at Siebel Golf Varsity Training Complex, she sat on the phone before looking up at the range and noticed a familiar silhouette.
Walker hung up and marched out of his office. “What are you doing?” she asked Englemann.
“Don’t worry coach,” she assured. “I’m not gonna hit that many. But I’ve got to grind.” Her pleas fell on deaf ears. “You’re going to pack up your bag and march your butt over to the putting green,” Walker ordered.
And despite the head coach’s horror, Walker wasn’t surprised; this was classic Englemann. Described as having the heart of a lion, Walker told Englemann during her recruitment that they’d win a championship with her in the lineup – and that dream came to fruition at the end of her sophomore year.
“I went to Stanford to win a national championship,” she said. “That’s all I could have asked for.”
Halfway across the country was where Walker picked Englemann. Born and raised in Austin, Texas, as an only child, Sadie spent significant time on a golf course with her stay-at-home dad, Mike, who saw a natural talent manifest from his three-year-old daughter. Eventually, he decided to enter Sadie into Texas junior golf events with quite the strategy; the older the competition, the better.
“The only way to get better is if you play people who are going to beat you and show you how to lose,” Mike told her. By the time eighth grade rolled around, so did the offers. A down-home Southern girl, Sadie grew up a Texas A&M fan from a strong lineage on her dad’s side. It was always assumed she’d stick around – making Stanford an unusually tough pitch.
“She didn’t really give me any indication of where she was going to go,” Walker says. A few nervous weeks would result, but the head coach would realize she had little to worry about. Sadie admits Stanford was her childhood dream school – but aside from prestige, she knew very little about it.
In a recruit, Walker found a player who quickly found success on the AJGA. The only player to shoot under par, she broke out in the Shanshan Feng Girls Invitational as a high school sophomore and was awarded an exemption into an Epson Tour event, fulfilling a dream of professional golf she still maintains. Earning medalist honors thirteen times, she’d go on to win back-to-back state titles before heading off to Stanford…online. COVID kept The Cardinal at home until the spring of 2021, when Englemann finally stepped foot on the campus of her dreams.
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Story originally appeared on GolfWeek