June 13, 2018
By Brad Muller | More Features
After a highly decorated collegiate golf career, recent South Carolina graduate Ainhoa Olarra is ready to use her experiences and her degree to get down to business. She doesn’t plan on doing that on the golf course, however. Olarra is back in her native Spain and instead of pursuing a professional golf career, she is weighing some options ranging from going to work as a consultant or going back to school to earn her master’s degree.
“I still don't know yet if I am going to graduate school because I am trying to find a job and the graduate school is becoming a ‘plan B’ right now,” Olarra said. “I decided to not pursue a professional golf career because It is really hard, with much sacrificing, and I am ready to see what other things I am capable of.
“(Graduate school) is an option because it will help me to transition and learn about specific information that I need to get adjusted to the Spanish labor work environment.”
“She’s a very determined young woman, and she really knows what she wants. She makes the most out of every situation,” said South Carolina head coach Kalen Anderson. “I think if she wanted to play professionally, she would have had the opportunity to do well. She is very realistic in terms of what it takes to be successful out there. She is very close with her family, and she knows what the lifestyle is about. I respect that because I’ve played that and had that lifestyle, and a lot of people struggle with it. She knows what her future goals are and what she wants.”
Olarra, who recently graduated from South Carolina after double-majoring in management and economics, set a single-season program record with a 71.00 stroke average during her senior year. That ranked ninth in NCAA Division I, and she notched five top-five showings and the individual title at the 2018 Florida State Match-Up as well as the 2018 SEC Championship this past spring. She finished her South Carolina career with the school’s second-lowest career scoring average (73.44).
I think being at South Carolina and the business school with international business has prepared her for whatever her next step is.
Olarra earned first team All-SEC honors this season and was a second team All-American. She was listed on the SEC Academic Honor Roll each year and was also a WGCA Scholar All-American. If she chooses graduate school, then she will seek an MBA in International Business, possibly in Madrid, and is interested in working as a consultant.
“I told coach at one point during this season, but because I was not sure about it until the end I didn't want to talk much about it,” Olarra said. “Also, I was really focused on trying to do the best that I could during the season, so I didn't think that it was the right time to talk about it.”
“It surprised me a little bit because of the momentum she has had with her career,” Anderson said. “She is also very dedicated to her studies. She is a bright young woman. She will be successful in whatever she does. Ainhoa has such a good, logical head on her shoulders, and she knows what she wants and where she is going. I definitely support her in what she is going to do. I think being at South Carolina and the business school with international business has prepared her for whatever her next step is.”
While much of her life will no longer be focused on her golf game, Olarra will miss it.
“For sure, I will!” Olarra said. “Competing will be what I miss the most!
That doesn’t mean she’ll let the clubs just collect dust, however. It just means that she won’t be depending on them for a pay check.
“I really hope that I could still play, but it really is going to depend if I am working and how much time I have left during the day,” Olarra said. “It will be hard, mentally, for me to play just for fun because I will be shooting higher scores as a consequence of practicing less. Knowing me - I am really competitive - it will be hard to assimilate.”
While the accolades she earned were great, the personal bonds and experiences as a student-athlete is what she will remember the most about her years as a Gamecock.
“I think the experiences that I had with the chance to live at the University of South Carolina and the people that I met during these four years (are my best memories),” Olarra said.
“More power to her,” Anderson said. “I’m proud of her for knowing what she wants and doing it. Whatever she does, she does it at 110 percent.”
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