Abbey Carlson's Journey to ANWA
Last year we profiled Abbey as part of our “More Than Golf” series. With the Augusta National Women’s Amateur (ANWA) coming up, we thought we’d touch base with the 2020 Vanderbilt University graduate to talk about how she’s balancing her prep for the tournament with the demands of her super-cool dream job as an engineer for Boeing.
Q: Hi Abbey! Thanks for taking a few minutes to chat with us. How have you been preparing for the ANWA?
A: Well, the weather here in Huntsville (Alabama) has been a little hit and miss to start the year; we were even getting some snow in late February and early March. But it’s taken a turn for the better the last few weeks and, given I’m having to fit in practice around my work schedule, I’ve been very grateful for the start of Daylight Savings Time.
Beyond the weather and work, the biggest challenge has been finding a place to play and practice. It’s made me realize that I may have taken for granted the incredible resources I had at my disposal when playing junior and college golf.
I went back to Nashville on a recent weekend to play with my old Vandy teammates. It was a great way to get back into the routine of playing rounds of golf and not just practicing. I had a lot of fun spending time with all of my old friends, including Austin Kim, who’ll also be competing at the ANWA.
Q: Has getting back into a tournament-prep mode been harder or easier than you though it would be?
A: That’s tough to say. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how my full swing has felt – it really has been like riding a bike. My short game is coming around, but there’s still some work to be done there before the ANWA.
What’s been most interesting to me is how much my mindset has changed over the last year. As we know, the event was cancelled in 2020. Had it been played I’d have been focused on doing all I could to win. But after graduating and playing very little competitive golf over the last 12 months, I’m now approaching the opportunity with the mindset of just taking it all in and appreciating the entire experience.
Q: Is there a particular shot you’ve always wanted to play at Augusta National?
A: Not really. For me, I think it will be more about the opportunity to play Amen Corner. That’s the part of The Masters that I’ve always enjoyed the most when watching it on TV.
Q: How has your job been going as a stress analyst for secondary structures on NASA’s Space Launch System?
A: It’s been great. I’m constantly learning a lot and getting to play even just a small part in the development of the SLS rocket and the future of the Artemis program as really just a tremendous opportunity. The ultimate goal of Artemis is to land the first woman and next man on the moon as well as further exploration of Mars. It’s exciting to see the progress being made on the program such as the “Green Run” test which just occurred. In this test the engines were run for a full-eight minutes to simulate a launch cycle and verify many of the systems on the Core Stage of the rocket. Artemis represents the first human spaceflight program focused on returning to the moon since the Apollo program of the 1960s and 70’s. With all of the advancements of technology that have been made since then It’s exciting to be part of such a groundbreaking project.
Q: Speaking of groundbreaking, March is Women’s History Month. Have you stopped to think about the barriers you’re breaking by playing in a women’s golf tournament at Augusta and also being an engineer in a male-dominated field?
A: I have a bit and it’s hard to put into words. I’m really honored to be part of the ANWA field and to be breaking barriers in golf and the aerospace industry. I mean, as recently as a few years ago, nobody would’ve ever thought women would have the opportunity to play a golf tournament at Augusta National. There’s been so much positive change in both sports and the STEM fields the last few years and I’m very proud to have the opportunity to play a small part in it.