With a Mountain West Championship title, a broken school record at 64 strokes and numerous top-10 finishes, it seems unlikely that senior golfer Sanna Nuutinen would be known as “Barbie” by her teammates.
“She looks like Barbie,” women’s golf head coach Angie Larkin said. “She’s got the long legs, the beautiful hair, the pretty face, the beautiful eyes.”
While Nuutinen may look like Barbie, sports psychology professor Gloria Solomon said Nuutinen’s “assertive” personality is nothing like the popular Mattel doll.
After graduation, Nuutinen wants to fulfill her dream of playing on the LPGA Tour. She plans to return to her home country of Finland before qualifying school in the fall.
The competition will be different when she steps onto the professional course, but Nuutinen said she’s “just trying to enjoy the ride.”
“I don’t even care about outside pressure,” she said, “but the main thing is the pressure I put on myself, so I try to not rate any tournament more important than others.”
Nothing much will change in her preparation for the pros, Nuutinen said, besides extending her four-hour practice day to an eight-hour practice day.
Larkin said she believes Nuutinen is ready for professional golf.
“The more pressure, the more people watch, the bigger the tournament, the better she does,” Larkin said, “so on that stage, I think she’ll do very well.”
Nuutinen won’t leave TCU without making her mark on her younger teammates first.
Freshman golfer Alex Sborov said Nuutinen taught her how to relax and block out any outside distractions during the game.
“She always tells me you put in all the work that you can, and you just have to trust yourself,” Sborov said. “And that’s what you’re going to do on the golf course.”
Competition pressures, bad shots, struggles during practice and even academics are not worth holding onto when it’s time to play golf, Nuutinen said.
“When I’m at the tournament, I just let it go and just enjoy playing,” she said.
It’s a concept Nuutinen will take with her onto the professional golf course. For now, Nuutinen is focused on completing her season at TCU, finishing final exams and graduating.
Former TCU tennis player and friend Olivia Smith said she believes Nuutinen’s focus and determination will take her far.
“I admire her for just constantly believing in herself,” Smith said. “Obviously every athlete has doubts. In whatever you do, you’re going to have doubts, but she’s never doubted whether she wants to play professionally. It’s always been her dream.”
If Nuutinen makes it onto the LPGA Tour, Larkin said she can picture Nuutinen playing with a “pink bag and a little pink golf cart.”
Nuutinen will represent TCU at the NCAA Regionals beginning May 8.