When Ana Rodriguez left her hometown in Bogota, Colombia, she had one goal: to earn a Division I golf scholarship in the United States. And here she is, a 19-year-old freshman on Hofstra’s team.
“In Colombia, the only school sports teams they have are soccer basketball and volleyball,” she said. “They don’t really have golf.” Those who want to become better must practice on their own, or travel overseas.
So at 16, she moved with her father, mother and younger brother to Miami to perfect her golf skills at American Heritage High School. She had first played in tournaments in Colombia and the U.S. at 14 and, at American Heritage, received an all-county honorable mention
“Some of my friends in Colombia in my country club — who were older — were in the process of getting scholarships. That’s how I knew what I had to do.”
During her senior year, Hofstra’s head coach started to show interest in Rodriguez. “The coach reached out to me, I don’t how he found me. I applied, and then I went from there.”
“I definitely wanted to go to the Northeast, so Hofstra worked out pretty well,” she said. “I like that we aren’t in the city, but we are close enough to it where it’s not very overwhelming.”
Despite her initial anxiety about leaving her home country as teenager, Rodriguez found comfort in Miami’s large Latin-American community. “Most of my friends spoke Spanish, a lot of my teachers spoke Spanish. It wasn’t really a big difference”
“I knew it was something I had to do,” said Rodriguez. “I wasn’t happy about it, I loved being home with my family.”
In her first year at Hofstra, Rodriguez is making adjustments to the style of golf in the northeast and managing a busy workload
“The grass is very different. It took me awhile to get used to. There’s also a lot of water in Florida and Colombia.” At Eisenhower State Park, the school’s home course, there’s no water.
“We practiced before our last tournament, and it was the first time we picked up a club for a while,” said Rodriguez. “We played in really cold weather, and it is really tough to play in those conditions.”
Rodriguez, who picked up the game of golf from her father, “can’t remember” a time in her life where she didn’t play. The finance major also followed in the footsteps of her dad, who majored in business, with her schooling.
When it comes to her golf game, Rodriguez emphasizes consistency and looks up to her favorite professional golfers, Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and Tiger Woods. “They’re all pretty consistent. Every now and then they hit a bad shot, but they turn a bad shot into something good in the end.”
“I’m pretty consistent with my driver,” she said. “Whenever I play pretty good it’s because I hit it pretty straight and far. I would say that’s the best part of my game.”
In the three tournaments Rodriguez played during the fall season, she finished top-25 twice, including a team-best 164 (+20) at the Hartford Hawks Invitational at Gillette Ridge Golf Club in Bloomfield, Connecticut.
“We had some issues in the first season,” said Rodriguez about the Hofstra team. “So right now we want to work more as a team to do better in the rankings.”
The Pride failed to finish inside the top-three in any fall tournaments, their best result being a fourth place finish in a seven team field during the Sacred Heart Fall Classic at the Great River Golf Club in Milford, Connecticut.
Regardless, Rodriguez is thankful for her rare opportunity to play a college sport.
“I want to get better at my game and have fun. Not everyone has the opportunity to be a DI athlete.”