The membership at Castlewood was always fantastic and supportive. They were always so encouraging and I love going there and seeing everyone.
If Northern California had a “golf sweet- heart,” it would have to be PAULA CREAMER. The Pleasanton native had a dominant junior career playing out of Castlewood CC before turning professional in 2005 and capturing that year’s Sybase Classic in New York. Her eight subsequent LPGA Tour titles include the most prestigious championship in women’s golf—the 2010 U.S. Open at Oakmont CC. The 26-year-old is one of the most engag- ing personalities on the LPGA Tour and a clear fan favorite.–Scott Seward
How did growing up in Pleasanton shape you? Even though I now live in Florida, I still call myself a California girl. That is where I plan to eventu- ally move back to once my career is over. I loved grow- ing up in the Bay Area and especially Pleasanton, which is such a quaint place. I really miss it but I’m glad to get back there every year, usually around the Christ- mas holidays. •••
Northern California has a legacy of producing terrifi c women golfers, many of whom have had stellar LPGA Tour careers. Why do you think that is?
Well, I’m sure lots of other areas around the country can make the same state- ment, but for me, it was a place where I could play golf year-round. Living on the fi rst hole was cool, too, because I didn’t have anyone to drive me to the course. The JGANC (Junior Golf Association of Northern California) is a tremendous organization that truly promotes the game from the grass-roots level all the way up. That gives many juniors more opportunities. Many pros as well as clubs have very junior-friendly rules regarding instruction and, equally as important, course access.
What are your fondest memories of junior golf at Castlewood Country Club? I remember taking my lessons with Larry O’Leary, who mentored the late Ernie Barbour, Dave Kern and Jonathon Hughes. They always made it fun for me. With Larry, if I did a certain drill well, he would give me a Certs breath mint. Here I was, all excited about doing a golf drill so I could get a mint. How funny is that? The membership at Castle- wood was always fantastic and supportive. They were always so encouraging, and I love going there and see- ing everyone.
You are one of the most successful of the recent American ladies who turned professional at an early age. Why do you think that is? I had planned to go to college until I played in a few LPGA events during the summer of 2004. I had a fair amount of success in those events, so I started to think about turning pro instead. After discussing it with my family, I decided to go ahead and enter the LPGA Qualifying School as an amateur. My dad got the application in just hours prior to the dead- line. I really wasn’t worried about fi nishing high enough to get my card as I thought I would do that. The issue became if I did really well there I might turn pro. If not, I would remain an amateur and go to college. I won the Q-school by a bunch, so the decision to turn professional was the result. David Whelan has been my coach since I was 15 years old, which has given me consistent instruc- tion and guidance. That is very important.