Growing up in Chattanooga, TN, Brooke Pancake started hitting golf balls at the early age of eight—and hasn’t stopped swinging since. After helping her team at the University of Alabama win its first NCAA title in 2013, this talented Southern belle is a rising star on the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA). We caught up with Pancake on one of her few days off to find out how she trains, her trick to steady her nerves on the course, and if she indulges in her namesake food.
Shape: How did you get into golf originally?
Brooke Pancake (BP): Growing up, my grandfather tried teaching my three sisters and I how to play, and I was really the only one who took to it. I just fell in love with the game. I took clinics, then played in high school and in college.
Shape: Golf may not look like an athletic sport, but it really is. How do you train?
BP: I’m a huge advocate of power hot yoga. It not only gives you a deep stretch, but also gets your heart rate up. Core stability is important in golf, as is upper body, and we get a lot of power from our legs. And in yoga, you’re using all of those muscles, so it’s an incredible bodyweight workout. I also have a trainer who designs workouts for me and other girls on the tour when I’m on the road.
Shape: What’s one myth about golf you want to set straight?
BP: People do have a misconception of how athletic golf is. Swimming is often viewed as a strenuous sport, but some of my friends on the swim team in college hit golf balls with me—and the next day they were so sore! Golfing uses a lot of smaller muscles, which most people don’t realize.
Shape: Not only is golf a physical game, but it’s very mental too. How do you stay calm on the course?
BP: Mental habits are harder to break than a bad swing. I tend to get ahead of myself during a round. If I make a bogie on one hole, I’m thinking of what I have to do on the next few holes to make up for it. To calm down, I start taking deep breaths and talk to my caddy or someone in my group about something non-golf-related—like a funny story—so I’m not thinking about my score or shots. So when I swing, I’m only focusing on executing that one shot in the moment.
Shape: Do you think your Southern upbringing affects your sportsmanship?
BP: I’m not sure if it’s a Southern thing or from my family, but treating others with respect is instilled in me. I always make sure I’m playing honestly by the rules of the game, even if no one is watching and I’m far behind in the tournament. My grandfather is the best man I know, and he taught me so many life lessons through golf, like honesty, respect, and how to look at the bigger picture.
Shape: What are your goals in your second year on the LPGA?
This year, my goal was to get into all the majors—like the U.S. Open and British Open—which I did. I was very proud I accomplished that. Overall, I’m trying to improve my game so I can feel more confident on a consistent level.
Shape: What are some of your favorite apparel brands for looking (and staying) cool on the course?
BP: Chase54 has an incredible line of golf apparel. All their pieces are made of breathable fabric. While there are a lot of clothes that help you stay cool, I’ve found that what’s missing are clothes that help you stay warm in a fashionable way. Chase54 has done a great job incorporating winter wear into their line, like shirts that help retain body heat.
Shape: What does a typical day in your diet look like when you’re on tour?
BP: I’m a health nut and really into nutrition. I’ve found the better I eat, the easier traveling is on my body. When I’m on the road, I try to limit carbs to improve my attention and energy on the course. I eat lots of lean protein (organic if possible) and lots of veggies. My downfall is my sweet tooth—I’ll have a healthy meal, then have some ice cream!
Shape: A round of golf can last for hours. What snacks do you take to eat on the course?
BP: I’ll eat bananas and mixed nuts. Beef jerky is a really good, high protein snack while I play, and I like Kind Bars and Larabars.
Shape: I have to ask: Do you like pancakes?
BP: I do, I love pancakes! But besides fresh fruit, my all-time favorite breakfast is a big Southern breakfast with biscuits, gravy, and sausage. You can’t beat it!