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."

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Amateur golfer Rachel Heck
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Amateur golfer Rachel Heck
Rachel Heck at the 2019 ANA Inspiration tournament.
Rachel Heck at the 2019 ANA Inspiration tournament.
Rachel Heck at the 2019 ANA Inspiration tournament.
RANCHO MIRAGE, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 04: Amateur Rachel Heck hits her second shot on the 15th hole during the first round of the ANA Inspiration on the Dinah Shore course at Mission Hills Country Club on April 04, 2019 in Rancho Mirage, California. (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
RANCHO MIRAGE, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 04: Amateur Rachel Heck hits her second shot on the 15th hole during the first round of the ANA Inspiration on the Dinah Shore course at Mission Hills Country Club on April 04, 2019 in Rancho Mirage, California. (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - SEPTEMBER 25: Rachel Heck of Team USA and Erica Shepherd of Team USA celebrate victory during the singles on day two of the 2018 Junior Ryder Cup at Disneyland Paris on September 25, 2018 in Paris, France. (Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - SEPTEMBER 24: Rachel Heck of Team USA looks on during the fourballs on day one of the 2018 Junior Ryder Cup at Disneyland Paris on September 24, 2018 in Paris, France. (Photo by Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - SEPTEMBER 24: Rachel Heck of Team USA lines up a putt during the fourballs on day one of the 2018 Junior Ryder Cup at Disneyland Paris on September 24, 2018 in Paris, France. (Photo by Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - SEPTEMBER 22: Rachel Heck of the United States reacts during a training session prior to the Junior Ryder Cup at Disneyland Paris on September 22, 2018 in Paris, France. (Photo by Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images)
Rachel Heck, of Memphis, Tenn., tees off on 14th hole during the first round of the U.S. Women's Open Golf tournament Thursday, July 13, 2017, in Bedminster, N.J. At 15 years old Heck is the youngest player in the field.(AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Rachel Heck talks with her father and caddie, Robert Heck, before teeing off on the 14th hole during the first round of the U.S. Women's Open Golf tournament Thursday, July 13, 2017, in Bedminster, N.J. At 15 years old Heck is the youngest player in the field. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
FILE PHOTO: Rachel Heck lines up a putt on the ninth hole during the final round of the U.S. Women's Open golf tournament at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, U.S., July 16, 2017 Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Rachel Heck tees off on the 15th hole during the first round of the U.S. Women's Open golf tournament at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, U.S., July 13, 2017 Mandatory Credit: Eric Sucar-USA TODAY Sports/File Photo
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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."

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