Under the Mexican skies, Sandra Livas, her older brother Enrique, their parents and grandparents all enjoyed playing golf in her hometown of Monterrey, Nuevo Leon.
Without a school team to play for, Livas would practice on the greens of her country club until nightfall. She would spend Sundays improving her swing, imitating Mexico’s Lorena Ochoa, who was the top-ranked female golfer in the world from 2007-2010.
“My entire family plays golf,” Livas said. “But when I really started liking the sport and wanted to play more was when I was nine or ten years old – when I won a pass to an international golf tournament.”
The Starburst Junior Golf Classic was held in Waco – and although it was her first time playing golf in the United States, it wouldn’t be her last.
Livas participated in a foreign-exchange program in Texas her junior year of high school. She found a new appreciation for golf after competing at the varsity level against other girls, instead of only boys from Mexican country clubs.
“There was a time when I thought I didn’t want to play anymore. I didn’t want to be just with guys,” Livas said. “But when I came to Mansfield and started playing with girls, I started falling in love with the game again.”
She won the district championship at Mansfield High School and solidified her decision to play Div. I golf on the West Coast. While she was at Fresno State, her brother Enrique played golf for the men’s team at St. Edward’s until his graduation in 2014.
Coaching styles and a smaller academic setting were some of the factors that led to Livas’ transfer to St. Edward’s her sophomore year. Her brother’s warm regards for the golf program also had a part in helping her make her decision.
“Sandy has a wonderful short game. She putts amazingly well and chips outstanding,” SEU women’s golf coach Jennifer Neil said.
At tournaments, golfers compete against each other, and the top five scorers represent their team in the next round. This competitive dynamic can feel a little “weird” sometimes, but it’s a part of golf Livas has grown accustomed to.
“When you’re playing for your school, we all support each other,” Livas said. “It’s always trying to play the best we can for the team to put the school’s name at the top of the leaderboard.”
A lot of golfers have to deal with snarky comments saying that golf isn’t a sport, or that it’s easy. Livas says that isn’t the case.
“We have to do cardio to be prepared to walk 18 holes a day carrying our own golf bag,” Livas said. “It’s an outdoor sport, and sometimes you’re going to be sweating or freezing like that for the next five hours or next three days.”
In the classroom, Livas is an entrepreneurship major who will graduate in May. Future goals include becoming a college golf coach and opening her own bakery. Her signature dessert would be a savory chocolate lava cake, which requires patience and preparation – just like golf.