Women’s golf sophomore Ellie Roth may be a natural lefty, but she swings her clubs with the other hand.
This is because of Ellie’s grandfather, Irving, who introduced her to the game after pursuing a professional career himself. He started taking her to tee times when she was just 4 years old and was the one who taught Ellie to swing right-handed.
“He told me I would have to switch or he wouldn’t teach me,” Ellie said.
Ellie spent her freshman year on the University of Kansas’ women’s golf team. In one season with the Jayhawks, she finished No. 30 at the Cowgirl Classic and tied for No. 40 at the Schooner Fall Classic. When deciding to leave Kansas, Ellie was drawn to head coach Michael Akers’ North Texas program as it was one of the first universities to recruit her in high school.
“When I put my name in the transfer portal, I realized Denton was really the place I wanted to be,” Ellie said. “I had a really good relationship with coach Akers up here and really bonded well with the girls and knew it was the right place.”
Because of the training under her grandfather, Akers said Ellie is different from most players in how she approaches the game. He said Ellie is able to hit shots and play the game in a way most players her age cannot because of the training involved. Akers said it is fun to watch Ellie play as she is what he considers to be “old school.”
“She can hit a high, she can hit a low [and] she can hit the ball in different directions,” Akers said. “It’s kind of a lost art.”
In her Mean Green debut, Ellie tied for No. 24 with a three-round score of 213 while playing as an individual at the Sam Golden Invitational. She finished No. 4 at the Tulane Classic in New Orleans, La., this spring with senior teammates Patricia Sinolungan and Audrey Tan both finishing in the top five as well.
As a golfer, Ellie said she wishes more people understood how difficult the sport is both mentally and physically. She said the physical toll of competing on the course for six to 12 hours in a single day while being exposed to the elements and having to stay focused on each and every shot is taxing.
“All sorts of things factor into a golf shot,” Ellie said. “The difficulty on the body and your mind is a lot more than people think about.”
When the game gets tough, Ellie said she thinks about some advice her mother Sharon Roth, 54, gave her once. Sharon told her to treat every shot she makes as its own tournament instead of focusing on the tournament as a whole. This way, Ellie learns as much information as possible about the shot she just hit.
“I’ve hit tens of thousands of practice shots of the exact same [swing] that I’m about to do,” Ellie said. “If I trust the mechanics of that swing, [then] I’m going to be just fine.”
Women’s golf freshman Chandler Browning met Ellie in high school while the two played on competing teams. Browning attended Prosper High School while Roth went to Plano West Senior High School, both of which are within an hour of Denton. When Browning and Ellie were paired up in one tournament, Browning said Ellie gave her advice on life and the sport.
“I have always respected Ellie and thought very highly of her,” Browning said. “For her to join the team and push the girls on the team to be better […] it was just really cool. It all came full circle.”
Sharon has attended all but one tournament during Ellie’s year with the Mean Green. She said Ellie has never wavered from her goal to play competitively after deciding to at the age of 8. Sharon said watching Ellie play with passion while staying strategic and methodical out on the course makes her proud.
“Even if something terrible is happening […] she really keeps even-tempered and doesn’t let it break her focus,” Sharon said. “I often tell her that when I grow up, I want to be just like her.”
Career-wise, Ellie’s goal is to one day compete on the Ladies Professional Golf Association tour. She said she wants to continue getting better each and every day for now and contribute to North Texas. The Mean Green recently won their second consecutive Conference USA title and will compete at one of the six NCAA Regional tournaments to be played on May 9-11.
“I wish I had come to [North Texas] my freshman year,” Ellie said. “I’m super grateful for the year we’ve had so far. It’s been a lot of fun with the girls and coach Akers and coach Emma, and I’m super excited for next year and the year after.”
Featured Image: Women’s golf sophomore Ellie Roth tees off during the final round of The Bruzzy at Waterchase Golf Club on April 12, 2022. Photo by John Fields