Gamecock Promise Delivers for Former Gamecock/Current LPGA Pro
Pauline Roussin-Bouchard isn’t your typical 21-year-old. The former South Carolina All-American and 2021 SEC Player of the Year turned pro early following her sophomore season last year after helping the top ranked Gamecocks reach the NCAA Championships and recently earned a spot on the LPGA Tour. It wasn’t an easy decision to forgo her eligibility, and neither was making the Tour.
“It was a tough decision, but I think it was the right one,” said Roussin-Bouchard, who is a native of Carqueiranne, France. “I knew I was going to miss all these team tournaments, hanging out with the team, and playing with the girls because they’re all so amazing. But at the same time, I felt that my game was ready. Coach (Kalen Anderson) told me that if the best decision for me was to turn pro, and in my best interests, then I should do it. I should get ready for Q-(qualifying)School and the LPGA.
“I worked a lot for it the last couple of years. That’s why I went to the U.S. I went to USC (South Carolina) to get ready the best I could. I just played my game during Q-school, and I made it! It was the biggest goal of the year. Now I’m in the LPGA, and it’s fun! It took me a long time to realize, to be honest. Now that I say it (I’m a professional golfer), it’s just awesome! It was the dream of my life to be able to be on the LPGA and play with the best champions in the world. I just enjoy being able to play golf at a very high level and to make it a living.”
What did help make her decision more comfortable was the ability to still have access to her education and athletics facilities at the University while training to be a professional as outlined in the South Carolina Athletics Department’s Gamecock Promise.
Roussin-Bouchard earned All-America and First Team All-SEC honors in both of her seasons with the Gamecocks and despite her short collegiate career, she ranks second in school history in tournament wins (5) and is tied for fifth in top five finishes (8). She holds many other school records, including lowest 18-hole score (63) and the lowest 54-hole tournament score when she carded a 199 at 2021 SEC Championship to win the individual title. She was already an outstanding golfer before she arrived on campus but being at South Carolina helped her reach her goals.
“It’s an honor to represent your university and being a Gamecock is just the best feeling in the world.”
“It helped me a lot,” Roussin-Bouchard said. “It was like the final prep before going to Q-school because I knew I still needed to work on a few things. When I got here, I had very clear goals of how I wanted to manage my time and the way I wanted to play for the team. In every tournament, I learned something that would make me a better player and a better person. I think it was the best experience I could have asked for to finally get ready to turn pro.
“I think it would have been way more difficult (if she hadn’t come to South Carolina first) because these facilities in France are difficult to find and the weather is rough sometimes. It would have been more difficult to get ready for longer courses, and more difficult to get used to a grass that is very specific to the U.S. I just needed something new, a different perspective. The American perspective is great as an athlete and the way that sport is a culture here is just amazing. That’s why I enjoyed it so much.”
Roussin-Bouchard is a gifted athlete, but it took a lot of hard work to get her where she is now, and that includes some unique workout routines, which most folks wouldn’t normally associate with golfers.
“My perspective is, I have to be a good athlete to be a good golfer,” Roussin-Bouchard said. “So, I’m going to put everything in place to be a good athlete. I’m going to work out in the gym and do some weightlifting, and my way of getting my stress out would be boxing. I’ve been boxing since I was 14 years old, and I just never stopped. I’m still doing some MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) and boxing/sparring sessions.
“We can go sometimes hard,” she added with a laugh, noting that she has never been hurt but has inflicted some pain on her opposition. “When I was going into boxing, I did nine years of judo, and I may have broken a wrist and an ankle, but it was during tournaments and competitions. It was not intentional!”
Such physical activity is certainly great cardiovascular exercise, and even a stress reliever, but Roussin-Bouchard said it also helps her mentally.
“It’s more a meditation moment rather than a workout,” Roussin-Bouchard said. “It obviously helps for cardio and all that, and strength and explosivity, but it’s more about having a world outside of golf. It’s a different type of energy. It’s like a different life.”
That being said, if she has a bad day on the golf course, one probably wouldn’t want to be her sparring partner
“No not really,” Roussin-Bouchard said with a smile. “You don’t want to be the punching bag. You don’t want to be the sparring partner. I’m not mad in a way that I want to punch someone or something, but I’m playing a lot of tournaments and pressure increases every week. At some point, it’s very important to just release everything, and boxing has helped me with that.”
While every aspiring professional athlete has to make their own decision about their potential path to achieving their dreams, Roussin-Bouchard is confident she has made the right decision in coming to South Carolina first.
“We all have our own path, and what I did is maybe not the right fit for everyone,” Roussin-Bouchard said. “This was the best way I could prepare myself.
“Playing for the team and being surrounded by amazing girls and just being a college athlete (was the best part of the experience at South Carolina). It’s an honor to represent your university and being a Gamecock is just the best feeling in the world.”