Alison Curdt became a Seminole in the Fall of 2000 and credits her time spent at the University and as a part of the Seminole’s women’s golf team as large contributors to the woman she is today. Curdt earned her BA in Psychology and BS in Hospitality Administration during her time at Florida State. Today, she uses these degrees in her profession as a golf instructor. Curdt has had massive success as an instructor, winning the prestigious Teacher of the Year Award from the Ladies Professional Golf Association and being involved in educational golf shows, such as the Golf Channel’s “Swing Fix”. Curdt is hopeful that she will continue to grow as both an instructor and a student of the game of Golf, utilizing both her education and experience gained as a Seminole in her effort to do so.
What was your biggest accomplishment at Florida State?
I feel my biggest accomplishment was being a successful student-athlete by competing in every single women’s golf event during my time at Florida State while completing a double-major and a minor in Psychology and Professional Golf Management (minor in Spanish). Although I often took on too much during my time, I had valuable support from the university and my coaches that helped me along the way. I was able to walk away with the necessary education as well as competing proudly as a ‘Nole.
What was your most memorable moment as a Seminole?
One of my most memorable moments was getting a hole in one at NCAA Regionals in Michigan! My parents had driven up from Missouri to come watch and my first shot of the day was on a par 3, uphill hole. I used a 6 iron and the ball was tracking the flag the hole way. I then saw the green side scorekeeper jumping up and down as the ball went in the hole. It was neat to have my parents there to witness that, and have my name be put on the scoreboard with a special congratulatory message at Regionals.
What advice would you give current Seminoles who want to follow in your footsteps?
Utilize your resources! There are so many valuable resources at the university at your fingertips. It’s a lot easier to have people helping you on your side then going through things alone. Everything from tutoring, financial planning, leadership skills, peak performance coaching, and more! The opportunities and options are limitless—just ask people around you for help and you will get the resources you need to make your experience worthwhile and successful.
Tell us about your experience on the Golf Channel’s show “Swing Fix”. Have you done any other television since?
It was an amazing experience being on the show with Michael Breed. I was playing in my third LPGA major which I qualified for through the LPGA Teaching and Club Professional division and Golf Channel asked if I would be on the show teaching with Michael on the range. Of course I jumped at the opportunity and it was a blast. I answered a few viewer questions and was able to experience that week as a player and a teacher. I have filmed 6 tips for the Golf Channel in 2016. 4 will air on National TV during The School of Golf and Swing Fix, and the others are available on Golf Channel’s website. My most recent tip aired in the middle of September. It’s a pretty surreal experience to watch one’s self on TV doing what I love.
How does it feel to be named teacher of the year by the Ladies Professional Golf Association?
I was floored. It was complete validation for the countless hours and hard work I put into my craft. I work very hard to be the best teacher I can, adding in services such as mental coaching and psychology, and to receive the National award was a dream come true. I never thought I would win at such a young age, but I have been working hard since the moment I graduated and it was recognized by my peers. Since then, last week I was awarded the 2016 Southern California PGA Teacher of the Year, and it made me feel so blessed to be recognized in both the PGA and LPGA organizations.
Having won such a prestigious award at such a young age, how do you plan to continue to grow as an instructor and what are your goals as an instructor for the future?
I have many more goals that I am continuously working towards. I’d like to be recognized by Golf Digest and GOLF magazine for their teaching awards, and I’m on track to be the first female in history to be a dual Master PGA Professional and a Master LPGA Professional. In addition, I’ll be completing my doctorate degree in clinical psychology in 2018 and will be utilizing a revolutionary modality to help athletes be their best self. I’m a very goal oriented person, so moving forward toward something will always be a part of my life.
Who would you say was your biggest influence in life when it came to Golf?
There are so many important people in my life who have influenced my golf career. I have had brilliant and amazing mentors, coaches, and teachers but there are two very special people who have been with me through all my ups and downs, never giving up on me, and supporting me through life, and that is my parent’s Michele and Calvin Curdt. Golf means a lot in my family as it’s been a way for us to connect and spend time together. My parents pushed me when I needed to be pushed, supported me when I struggled, and always encouraged me to follow my dreams and be the best I could be. Dad took me to so many tournaments over the course of my junior and amateur career, and Mom was a strong emotional support. They provided me every opportunity whether it was through better equipment, opportunities to travel out of state to tournaments, and access to a golf course, practice facility and coaching.
In 2007, you became the first female golf professional at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks. How do you think the game is progressing to break down the barriers between male and female golfers?
It’s progressing as women are allotted more opportunities at higher levels of management and teaching, but it’s not where I think the industry should be. People like Suzy Whaley as the first PGA Secretary are trailblazing for women like me, and there have been so many women ahead of me that have broken down some barriers. I think women are becoming more recognized in the industry, not only as players, but as teachers, coaches, and professionals. The industry needs more females to stand out to help continue to break down barriers.
How do you feel that your education at Florida State, specifically your psychology background, has helped you become a better instructor of the game?
My education really launched me into a position to have options. My psychology was great—but earning a bachelor’s degree is just the tip of the iceberg. This did peak my interest to continue studying psychology and I later completed my master’s degree from Pepperdine University and am currently earning my doctorate degree from California Southern University. My degree is Business Admin (Professional golf management) through the Dedman School of Hospitality is what really helped my career as I could take a job anywhere I wanted directly out of college. Coach Ernie Lanford and Jim Riscigno were instrumental in helping me set my teaching career up for success while supporting me in my goals (as challenging as they may have seemed) and helping me use every resource I could through the PGM school.
When did you begin playing golf? And when did you realize that it was something you knew you were good at?
I began at the age of 7 and my dad took me on the golf course to spend time with me. Junior golf didn’t begin until age 8, so he’d let me play a few holes once we got far enough away from the club house. I knew right from the beginning that I was good at it. I used very few clubs that first year and would have a blast hitting the ball straight down the fairway. When I turned 8 and after I won my first trophy I was hooked. My first day in Junior Golf I was able to advance to the higher division so tasted success early on.
When did you realize that you wanted to become a golf instructor? What influenced your decision to do so?
I never imagined myself ever teaching golf! I wanted to be a serial profiler for the FBI. And if that didn’t work out I wanted to play professionally after college, but mentally I was struggling, and it wasn’t the right time for me. Due to my PGM degree I was able to enter the workforce directly after graduating. In my first job I began teaching a couple of lessons and loved that more than any other part of the operation. Then in 2006 tragedy struck and my house burned down and everything in it was lost. All of my Florida State Gear and awards from my time as a Seminole had burned, in addition to my clubs. I was left with nothing besides the clothes I was wearing, and the memories I had in my mind from being a Seminole. I took about 5 months away from golf completely before getting a new set of clubs to be able to play again. In 2006 I moved to a position in California that was full time teaching and knew that I wanted to continue down that path. The teacher mentally came very naturally for me. Teaching never feels like work-it feels like helping someone, and I love that feeling. As I was still grieving from my fire loss I feel like teaching gave me a purpose and a sense of empowerment to help others improve their skills. Ever since then I’ve never doubted that this was my purpose. Ironically, since becoming a teacher, I have played more professionally, and better too!
How has the sport of golf shaped who you are as a person?
It has taught me to deal with adversity better. There is so much more loss in golf than there is “win” and being able to emotionally and mentally cope with the ups and downs of the game builds character, strength, and resilience. I also learned from the great Bobby Bowden when I was at FSU that you are only going to “get out of it what you put into it,” so I feel that I have gained a lot of success by putting my whole heart and mind into what I do. The game has given me a lot, and I have learned much about how to be the best version of myself.
What drove you to pursue your master’s degree in psychology and how do you use this higher education to better your instructing abilities?
The sampling I received in my BS in Psychology at FSU kept me thirsty to learn more. Part of why I pursued my master’s, and now my doctorate, is I feel that it is my niche in teaching. To help people mentally and in their life to attain better golf is my desire. As a practicing psychotherapist, I have the privilege of helping individuals find how to be their best version of themselves too. I feel that I could have really used someone like me during my college years – a teacher who could also help me mentally, so I wanted to fulfill that for others and be of service to those haven’t quite reached their potential yet.
Do you still keep in touch with any of your old teammates or coaches from your time at Florida State?
Yes! I keep in touch with Coach Debbie Dillman and several teammates such as Alison Zimmer, Katie Quinney, Kris Tamulis, Kelly Henderson, and Tyler Johnson. Many of us are in the golf industry and I’ll see them at various events and conference. I’ve visited with Kris Tamulis while she was on the LPGA Tour during the times I have played in the KPMG PGA Women’s Championship. I’m so proud of what many of my teammates have themselves accomplished and it’s fun to connect with them and still laugh at the same old jokes we laughed at back when we traveled together to tournaments. Some other players I haven’t kept up with but know if we were to connect it would still feel like we were back in the van traveling to the next tournament. I think very fondly of Coach Dillman as she was really a lifesaver for me during some times of struggle balancing all the many things I took on. She has such a big heart and makes the best shrimp etoufe! When I began coaching for California State University-Northridge, I would often reach out to her asking her how she was able to tap into inspiring us, and how she put up with us! I’m also really happy for Coach Amy Bond and all that she has accomplished as Head Coach, as she was an assistant during my last two years. She was a very important role model for me as well. I hope to be as influential to the girls I coach now as they were to me.
You have spoken before about the mental aspect of golf that not many people think about? Did this aspect of golf affect how you played as your time as a Seminole and is there anything that you know now that you wish you could tell your former self?
It most certainly did. I am very open about the struggles I faced during my time as a Seminole. Bouts of depression severely impacted my performance. The challenge with being so goal oriented is that I want to do everything – and I want to do everything well! I would tell my former self that I don’t have to do everything, just do a few things that I really enjoy and do them the best I can. I’d also tell myself to enjoy every second of every experience, because it really does go by very quickly. Luckily my coaches were able to get me some help and resources I needed mentally to be a bit kinder on myself when it would come to my performance in tournaments. Lastly, I would tell my former self to get more sleep, meditate and be mindful, and get out of my own way.
Questions and Interview
By Sean Asher
Florida State Sports Information