Shaye Leidenius always had the skill to succeed in tournament play on the golf course, but like any younger competitor she needed to work on the mental side of the game.
“The mental part was something I needed to work on and I think it’s pretty good now,” said Leidenius, who is in her second year with the RDC golf team and captured the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference women’s title last weekend at Redtail Landing.
In fact Leidenius showed how mentally tough she is as she fired an impressive 10-over par 82 in adverse conditions to win the 36-hole event by nine strokes. In fact her final round score was the best of the weekend on the women’s side.
“It was tough conditions, the wind was really blowing and it was cold, but luckily it didn’t start raining until we were leaving,” explained Leidenius, who was third in the ACAC last year.
Shaye’s ability to shake off a bad hole, or a mistake, was key to her success.
“In the past I’d have a bad hole and let it bother me,” she said. “I’m able to forget about it now and move on.”
Leidenius’ RDC coach Scott Bergdahl worked hard on that part of her game.
“When she came to RDC she had the skill but made small mistakes and start to tighten up,” he said. “But she’s worked hard on her mental strength and when you combine work ethic and belief in yourself it’s a powerful thing and that’s what’s happened to her.
“She’s way more comfortable with her swing and and you can see that she doesn’t make as many small mistakes. She believes in her skill.”
That was also obvious earlier this season with an impressive seventh-place showing in the Alberta Ladies Amateur.
“I’ve played in that the last three years and getting to play against some of the best in the province helps my game,” said the 20-year-old. “This year I made a couple of mistakes which cost me a bit, but I was able to keep it together and it was a boost to my confidence.”
Shaye’s impressive performance at the ACAC finals this year should earn her a berth in the Canadian Colleges championships in Oshawa.
“It looks good, but I’ll know more after this weekend,” she said.
Last year she tied for seventh at the Nationals and what made it even better was that she was paired with her twin sister, Daria, who attends Holland College in PEI.
“She will be there again this year so it would be great to get to see her.”
Shaye was born and raised in Ponoka and was five when she first had a club in her hand.
“My parents wanted my sister and I to do something and put us in swing lessons, but I really didn’t start taking the game seriously until I was 14,” she said.
The sisters played out of the Ponoka Community course until about four years ago when they switched to Wolf Creek, where they worked with pro Laura Witvoet.
“She is still my coach, along with Scott,” said Shaye.
Shaye graduated from high school in 2015, but took a year off before attending RDC, where she is in the Kinesiology and Sports Studies program. She expects to move on next year.
‘“I’ve received an offer from Simon Fraser University (in Vancouver) and will likely go there.”
But until then she will continue to work on her game.
“I feel my short game is a strength and I hit the ball a good distance so that I have the opportunity to get on 500-yard and over holes in two,” she said. “But still I can continue to work on all parts of my game.”
This winter she will use a net at RDC and at her family home in Ponoka.
“I’ll also take a little time off before getting back to training and working in the gym on my conditioning,” she concluded.
Danny Rode is a retired Advocate reporter who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org