Sports: Get Ready for Summar-time
Photography courtesy of LPGA
For once Bill Roachell wished his daughter would leave the golf course early, hit the road before the daylight was gone and get home quickly. But just like every day before it, his daughter Summar worked diligently and patiently at Conway Country Club hitting irons and wedges into the fading light of day.
“Her mother [Lisa] and I were sitting at the kitchen table dying for her to get home,” said Bill who earlier that evening had received the good news that Summar had been invited to play in the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship qualifier, an official LPGA Tour event at Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers, quite the feat for the Conway High School junior.
“She finally walked in and I asked her, ‘Have you been working hard?’ and she said, ‘Yes sir I have,’ so then I showed her the email from Tournament Director David Shoemaker and said, ‘You may want to work a little harder.’”
For Summar it took a few moments to sink in; the realization of being involved with an official LPGA event did not hit her right away but seconds later Bill and Lisa watched their daughter jump up and down in excitement around their living room.
“It was just a great feeling; it’s been a dream of mine and just to be given a chance to be a part of it, it just feels really good,” Summar said. “It’s not every day you get to play on a professional level; a lot of people, at a young age, don’t get that chance, so for me it’s just really big.”
The dream started when Summar was about 5, when Bill brought his daughter out to the First Tee of Little Rock where friend and veteran golfer Martha McAlister was hosting a class. “They put a club in Summar’s hands, and she hit several balls and immediately Martha told me, ‘She’s a natural,’” he said.
The Roachells didn’t play golf then, and Bill rarely gets out himself, but ever since those first few swings, Summar has been hooked. “I just kind of fell in love with it. My Dad didn’t play, but I just really liked it so he kept taking me out there,” she said.
Not long after that, at the mere age of 7, Summar won her first tournament, and it has been all upswing since. After picking up wins across the state in Arkansas State Golf Association (ASGA) junior events, she went national, reaching the second round of the U.S. Girls’ Junior in 2010. She still competed in ASGA tournaments and eventually finished fourth in the Player of the Year points race, not to mention earning state and conference titles as a member of the Conway High girls golf team.
However, last year was truly the breakout year for Summar as she was selected by Meg Mallon as one of only two captain’s picks to the U.S. PING Junior Solheim Team. The Solheim Cup is held every two years, with the best players in the country competing against Team Europe on both the junior and senior levels. Roachell’s consistent play down the stretch helped the United States retain the title, the first junior team to do so on foreign soil.
Her consistent play has not gone unnoticed by college coaches either. After growing up a “lifelong” Razorback fan and following the career of former University of Arkansas at Fayetteville student-athlete, Stacy Lewis, the Roachells took a serious look at the rising women’s golf program being built by head coach, Shauna Estes-Taylor. Not long after, Summar verbally committed to the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville.
“The coaches there are the best in the nation in my opinion, and all the opportunities up there, playing The Blessings course every day and having the LPGA tournament up there, it was everything I was looking for,” she said.
This year, Summar hopes to not only watch Lewis and her other favorite LPGA players in action but to compete alongside them as well. She’ll need to earn a spot into the official tournament, June 29 through July 1 with a high finish in the qualifier on June 25, but Summar is preparing.
Practicing has never been an issue, at least according to Bill. Just mentioning the opportunity that awaits his daughter at Pinnacle County Club this summer stirs up the emotions within him.
“It means a lot. I know she works extremely hard. She’s got a lot of God-given talent and the incredible work ethic she has, those two combined got her to where she is today. As a parent it’s pretty overwhelming,” Bill said. “Every year it seems her game has gone to a new level. It’s unbelievable.”
Summar and her family can hardly wait until tournament week. “I really just want to get out there and play, I can’t really overthink it too much,” she said, “Just believing I can go out there and compete with them, that’s what I want to do. I’m going to give it my best shot.”
If Bill’s previous experiences awaiting the arrival of his daughter each evening are any indication, there are sure to be plenty of best shots come the end of June.
For tickets or more tournament information, visit nwachampship.com or call the tournament office at (479) 715-6100. Daily tickets are $25, valid any one day, June 29 through July 1. Weekly grounds passes, valid all week, can be purchased for $50. Admission is free to the public June 25 through June 28. Children 17 years old and younger are admitted free with a ticketed adult.