Why is UNLV considered a good school

Polly Mack takes off from college in Las Vegas

The national player from the Berlin golf club Stolper Heide is studying hotel management in Las Vegas. The 19-year-old caused a sensation with her performance on the college golf team. She has just been voted Player of the Year by the coaches in her league. Stolpe's women's team will soon be helping her with the Ascent project.

by Arne Bensiek

Golf is only a game of chance to a limited extent. South Africa's golf legend Gary Player once said: “The more I train, the more lucky I am.” It is a quote that Berlin national player Polly Mack knows well. It's at home in the Stolper Heide golf club in Berlin, large on a wall next to the clubhouse. Nothing comes from nothing, even on the golf course, is the motto. The German champion from 2016 knows that too well; Training days of eight hours are no exception for her. And yet she found her great luck in golf in the city of gambling, of all places.

Polly Mack has been studying golf at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas (UNLV) on a golf scholarship since last August - and is causing a stir in her first season on the college's women's team. The 19-year-old is largely responsible for the fact that her team has just won the Mountain West Conference (MWC), one of the 35 regional leagues in American college golf. The coaches of all teams voted Polly Mack “Freshman of the Year”, the best newcomer, and on top of that “Player of the Year”, the best of all players in the conference. With the victory in the MWC Conference, her team qualified for one of the four Regionals and finished ninth of eighteen at the end of the season - the best result for the UNLV women since 2015.

“Golf in Las Vegas is spectacular,” enthuses Polly Mack. "There are more than 60 seats here, some in the middle of the city, only two or three minutes' walk from the famous Las Vegas Strip." She has already played more than a dozen of them. Because the members of the college team have free access to almost all clubs - ideal conditions to develop further in a playful way. “The chances of qualifying for the Ladies PGA Tour are certainly greater here than anywhere else,” the Berliner is convinced. She definitely wants to complete her four-year hotel management degree first and then decide whether she will try the leap on the tour.

Until then, there is still a lot of work left for the scholarship holder. A normal college day for Polly Mack starts at 6:30 a.m. with strength training, followed by lessons until 12:45 p.m., and by 1:30 p.m. at the latest, she is on the driving range or golf course and trains there for up to four hours. After dinner in the campus cafeteria, homework is still waiting. “I haven't seen too much of Las Vegas yet,” she says. She went on a few small shopping trips, saw one of the famous shows - and of course golf courses. There was no time for more.

"The step from Stolpe to Las Vegas has been huge for me, and I admit that I was initially unsure whether it was right for me," says Polly Mack. After more than half a year at college, good tournament results and the most recent awards, she has long been full of euphoria: "I have become much more open, approach people more easily and am happy about the independence that I am developing here." Things that she thinks could be improved.

The fact that she has to share the room with a fellow student in the dormitory on campus is still a sporty thing for her. “I have to go through that as an athlete,” she says. “But the unhealthy food, which you can hardly avoid here, frustrates me a little.” Scrambled eggs, fried sausages and cornflakes made from pure sugar are not their first choice for breakfast. Cooking yourself - as it used to be after school at home in Hohen Neuendorf - is not possible in the dormitory. “At some point I just bought an avocado on my hand,” she says and laughs. That is one of the reasons why she is looking forward to moving into a shared apartment off campus at the beginning of her second year of college.

When she thinks of her home club in Stolpe, she especially misses her closest friends and training partners - Falko Hanisch, David Rauch or their trainer Gregor Tilch. “The solidarity that has grown there over the years is something special,” she emphasizes. In Berlin she trained almost exclusively with boys. In this respect, playing in an all-women team is also a new experience for her. "I had to learn that despite all the sympathy, there is also envy when it comes to being nominated for tournaments by the coach," reports Polly Mack. Born in Berlin, she has always been a top performer.

This is all the more true at the Stolper Heide golf club in Berlin. When the college year is about to end, Polly Mack will fly home to support the women's team in the regional league. The ascent is the clear goal. She also hopes to be able to play for the Golf Team Germany in the European team and individual European championships. She would have worked hard for happiness.