Earley content in the kitchen
Liz Earley had no problem walking away from golf.
The 50-year-old St. Catharines native had a productive career on the links, including five years as a conditional member of the Ladies Professional Golf Association and a Canadian Professional Golf Association Women’s Championship in her hometown in 2002.
But at the age of 34, Earley decided it was time to focus on other things and left the game behind.
“I always had in the back of my mind when I was playing when I stopped having fun doing it, then it was time to find something else to do,” Earley said. “I certainly wasn’t popping the world or anything like that. I stopped enjoying myself. It really became a grind. I wasn’t enjoying the whole thing anymore.
“I was fortunate to have people supporting me and not be living pay cheque to pay cheque or tournament to tournament because I did have support, but I knew it was time.”
Earley won more than $80,000 as a pro, including five championships, but that doesn’t tell the whole story, or the struggle behind the scenes to remain competitive.
“I wasn’t performing the way I wanted to perform and I was sick of eating turkey sandwiches every day in the lockeroom and the clubhouse,” she said. “I didn’t eat turkey sandwiches for years.
“It was a little bit boring. It was the same thing every day. It’s exciting and a privilege at the same time but it can wear on you, especially if you’re not making tons of money. You have to hustle. That’s a lot of extra work people don’t see to make a living.”
And the payoffs, even for those who were successful, had yet to reach the eye-popping levels they are today.
“When I was playing people weren’t making millions of dollars,” she said. “Those of us that were bottom third or even lower were doing everything we could to stay out there and live our dream. At some point, I was not going to go broke living my dream. I had lived it and I was fortunate to have some success, mostly in Canada, but I knew when it was time.
“I’ve never looked back.”
Helping Earley make the transition was a career at Kitchen Stuff Plus, where she had started as a seasonal worker while still golfing.
Earley, now 50, lives in Toronto and manages a franchise in Etobicoke.
“I really enjoy it because it’s different every single day,” she said. “I love to cook — I have sour dough in the bread in the oven now. I’m on my fourth loaf of bread I am going to give away to some of my neighbours. I’ve finally gotten good enough to give it away and be proud of it.”
Earley said she wasn’t particularly worried what her life would be like without golf.
“At the time it wasn’t (stressful) because I knew I would find something else I would like and I fell into working at Kitchen Stuff Plus,” she said. “I didn’t know what was going to be next but I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to go the teacher route. It was something that just didn’t interest me.
“It was finding something that I really liked and I have. It just sort of happened. You don’t know what’s going to happen next but I knew I was enjoying what I was doing.”
Earley, who graduated from Holy Cross Catholic Secondary School before attending the University of Central Florida on a golf scholarship, hasn’t picked up a set of clubs in two years.
“I took up hockey when I stopped playing golf as a time to see my best friend once a week,” she said. “It’s something I miss. I miss seeing my friends weekly and that type of exercise weekly. It’s something that really helped me stay competitive, just in a different sense.
“I truly love playing hockey.”
Earley isn’t so sure how she would fare in today’s ultra-competitive world of golf.
“It’s very all encompassing,” she said. “Things are so different now than when I was playing. Not just golf, but everything is so much more athletic. It’s not just pure raw talent anymore. Kids devote their entires lives to it. Kids aren’t kids anymore.”
Earley was inducted into the St. Catharines Sports Hall of Fame in 2013 with Bill Fitzgerald (lacrosse), Larry Miller (basketball), Keith Murphy (boxing) and Ron Roy (lacrosse).
With the 2020 induction ceremonies cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, BPSN will be looking back and featuring select inductees from previous years
BPSN’s coverage of the St. Catharines Sports Hall of Fame is brought to you by Peter Partridge of Partridge Wealth Management of RBC Dominion Securities (www.peterpartridge.com).
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