This Female Golfer With Down Syndrome Says ‘I Got This’
Athletic achievements for women have come a long way in the past few decades, but golf is a sport that has championed female athletes for centuries. Today, golfers such as Michelle Wie, Lexi Thompson, and Inbee Park are paving the way for new generations of golfers. But one woman is bringing visibility to differently-abled individuals on the green — Amy Bockerstette.
Luckily for Bockerstette, who has Down syndrome, golfing is a sport that almost relies on social distancing. She’s been able to keep practicing and playing golf safely at open golf courses throughout the pandemic, keeping her friends, family, and fans updated on her Instagram account and keeping the inspiration going.
In honor of National Golf Month, here are five things CircleAround learned about this 21-year-old golfing rockstar.
1She Made Sports History
Bockerstette made sports history when she became the first person with Down syndrome to receive an athletic college scholarship, earning her a full ride to Paradise Valley Community College in Phoenix, Ariz. As a Special Olympics athlete for several years, her golfing talents were always celebrated publicly, but it wasn’t until she made par on a PGA golf course in 2019 that she became world renowned.
2Her Golfing Has Earned Her 'Viral' Status
Cheered on by pro-golfers Gary Woodland, Matt Kuchar, and a crowd of hundreds, Bockerstette was invited to hit a few practice rounds during the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Despite noise from the fans and a tricky layout, Bockerstette made par-3 at the 16th hole. The moment was captured on video, and it went viral with 46,000 likes on Twitter.
Bockerstette was able to attend the Waste Management Phoenix Open as a guest in January 2020, but shortly after that, her speaking engagements, tournament appearances, and other in-person opportunities came to a halt as COVID-19 put athletics on pause around the world.
3She Has Her Own Foundation
After her phenomenal play, Bockerstette and her family formed the I GOT THIS foundation, which “has a mission to promote golf instruction and playing opportunities for people with Down syndrome and other intellectual disabilities.” It’s named after the last words she spoke to Woodland before she sank her putt into the notorious 16th hole. “I got this” is an encouraging phrase that golfers of all abilities can draw inspiration from.
The foundation offers special grants, lessons, and opportunities for those with intellectual disabilities to play the sport Bockerstette has built an early career out of. Through this access, she and others in the golfing world have created a more inclusive environment for aspiring athletes.
4She’s Majoring in Dance at College
Golf is just one of Bockerstette’s passions, and while it has made her a household name, she isn’t letting it limit the other things she likes to do. She’s majoring in dance in college, and she performed in theater and musicals in high school. She also loves playing the piano and even got to sing with Bret Michaels at a performing-arts charity event earlier this year. Other hobbies include swimming, volleyball, and baseball. But mostly, she just loves being around other people and having a good time.
5Gary Woodland Is Her Biggest Fan
Woodland has continued to be one of Bockerstette’s biggest cheerleaders ever since he met her over a year ago. He speaks highly of his experience and his friendship with Bockerstette, “I’ve been blessed to do a lot of cool things on the golf course but that is by far the coolest thing I’ve ever experienced,” Woodland told Golf.com, after Bockerstette’s par. “She was phenomenal... I never rooted so hard for somebody on a golf course.”
Woodland and Bockerstette have remained in touch ever since, and have met in person on more than one occasion. He was honored to present her with a check for $25,000 for her foundation from the Thunderbirds organization that operates the PGA event where they first met.
“Everywhere I go, I hear, ‘I got this,’ ” Woodland told NBC Golf. “The impact that it’s had on other people has been tremendous. So to be a part of that is amazing.”