Rising golf star Rachel Heck's love for the game is all thanks to ice cream
When Rachel Heck's father found out his third child would also be his third daughter, he made a decision: No ballet. No recitals. These girls are going to play golf.
That choice – made before Heck, now 17, was even born – turned out to be life-changing in ways the family couldn't even imagine.
"I can't remember ever not wanting to be a golfer," the rising star told AOL.com.
But what exactly was it that lured Heck to golf at such a young age? Like many kids, she was motivated by food. Her father turned golf practice into a competition between his three daughters, and the prize was always ice cream – mint chocolate chip ice cream, to be exact.
"Every day after work, he would take my sisters and I out to the driving range," Heck said of her dad. "We would always play some silly little game but the goal, if we won – which we always did because it was probably impossible not to – we got ice cream. So, for me, growing up, golf just meant ice cream."
Nowadays, golf is much more than just a vehicle to ice cream for Heck and her two older sisters. Heck has become one of the top amateur golfers to watch, having made the cut at two professional majors so far and more almost certainly to come. She is currently the 12th-ranked amateur golfer in the world and recently nabbed the only junior spot at the ANA Inspiration, which is the LGPA's first major of the year.
Her appearances at the 2017 U.S. Women's Open and 2018 Evian Championship are among Heck's proudest moments so far, but the high schooler is also focused on maintaining a normal social life while she enjoys every step of her blossoming career.
"When I was in middle school, I started to get annoyed with [golf] and had trouble because I was confused about why I couldn't go to my friends' birthday parties on weekends and why I had to go to golf tournaments all the time," she explained. "I loved golf, but I didn't understand why I couldn't do both."
Now, maintaining a normal and well-balanced life is a priority for Heck as she finishes high school and heads to Stanford next year. While word of her skyrocketing career spreads, she's focused on maintaining a level head and not letting the compliments – or the detractors – get to her.
"My parents tell me just to keep practicing, don't think about that," she said of all the hype surrounding her game. "I don't want to think right now about going pro when I still have to finish junior golf, and then I want to enjoy college and have a great experience there. Then, after I graduate, I'll think about going pro."
"Golf is what I love and what I want to do with my life so hopefully I make a successful career out of it but before then, I just want to enjoy every step of the way."