Polly Mack: Berlin Born, Vegas Forged, Tuscaloosa Defined 

Nicholas Pursley, Contributing Writer

From Berlin to Las Vegas, from Las Vegas to Tuscaloosa, and from Tuscaloosa to the Epson Tour, transitions have become almost routine for former Alabama women’s golfer Polly Mack. But the former German National Team member is hopeful that the next transition will be onto the Ladies Professional Golf Association Tour. 

Born and raised in Berlin, Mack was initially recruited to play golf at The University of Nevada, Las Vegas, after an assistant coach watched her play at the British Girls Amateur. 

Not many parents would let their daughter move to another country, let alone to a city like Las Vegas, but Mack wasn’t like most 18-year-olds. 

She’d already spent much of her childhood traveling across Europe from tournament to tournament. While most young tour players might struggle with the initial lifestyle change, Mack is practically a seasoned veteran. 

“I was used to booking flights, hotels, Air BnB’s. I really enjoyed traveling,” Mack said. 

She saw immediate success once arriving at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, winning conference player of the year and freshman of the year in her freshman season. She followed up that success with an NCAA regional appearance as an individual in her sophomore season. 

That success didn’t come without growing pains. 

Moving to the other side of the globe can be tough, even for someone who’d been preparing since they were young. 

“I had school in English since the first grade, which helped, but speaking wise I was never that good,” Mack said. “Everyone here speaks so fast. Everyone my age had the American slang, the fast American English. I always had to ask people to repeat themselves. A lot of times I was just nodding and smiling. It’s hard in the beginning. But after three, four months, throwing yourself in there, you learn to swim.” 

After UNLV let go of the assistant coach that recruited her, Mack was ready for a change in scenery. Several schools reached out, but it soon became apparent that Tuscaloosa would be her new home in 2019. 

Despite being scared about moving to such a “tiny” town when compared to places like Berlin and Las Vegas, it was the culture that drew her to Alabama. 

“I remember talking to Mic [Potter] and Susan [Rosenstiel] on Facetime in the library and I got the sense that I could trust them,” Mack said. “That everything they were saying was true. You don’t really get that feeling every time you talk to a coach. You always think they want to sell you something. I really felt like they meant it.” 

Alabama would prove to be a forging ground for Mack’s future in professional golf. 

In fact, it was her coaches that gave her self-confidence that helped her turn pro in the first place. 

“Mic and Susan were the first ones to tell me that I was good enough to be on the LPGA tour,” Mack said. “They gave me a ton of confidence. They always told me, ‘Polly, you’re good enough. You just have to believe in yourself. Your golf game is amazing — you just have to get out there and show everybody.’” 

Along with the boost in confidence, her coaches taught her how to play what she calls “boring golf.” Mack is considered one of the longer hitters on tour, and length like hers often comes with the potential for a wayward drive. 

Alabama taught her to dial back that strength and be willing to turn to an iron off the tee. That “boring golf” strategy certainly paid off, especially once Mack got to the professional game. 

Just a few months into her career, she’s tallied several impressive results, including three top-five finishes. One of those finishes came in her hometown, where she finished tied for fourth in the Armundi German Masters, a Ladies European Tour event. 

Success has come, despite the rigors that professional golf places upon its players. 

“It’s been a little crazy,” Mack said. “For an international student, it doesn’t just mean turning pro. It means changing your VISA, and post-COVID, there’s so many issues with that. Nobody really tells you how it works. It’s not like a team sport where you have a manager who just takes care of everything for you. You have to find out everything for yourself. You don’t know what’s true or not, everyone has different opinions. You have to find your own way through.” 

Another challenging aspect of professional life is constantly being away from home and your support system. Multiply that by a million when you’re halfway across the world. 

“You don’t have a coach with you all the time, and my parents aren’t here so I can’t get a hug from them if things don’t work out. That’s been hard sometimes,” Mack said. 

But perhaps the most challenging aspect of professional golf comes in scheduling. You never know what comes next. One good finish could change your entire career. 

Her aforementioned early success has given Mack the chance to fast-track her path to the LPGA Tour. 

“I walked in mid-season,” Mack said. “It’s hard trying to make as much money as everyone else with a full schedule, so I came in with no expectations and I was just trying to keep my card for next year. Then there was suddenly that T3 that bumped to the top-25 which was awesome.” 

With just one event left, Mack currently sits 31st on the money list. Finishing from 11th-35th place on the money list earns a player an exemption into the final stage of LPGA Q-series, where the top-45 finishers earn LPGA Tour status. 

In just a few months, Mack could be the latest Alabama alumni to make her mark in the professional game. And who knows? Maybe one day she’ll accomplish her dream of representing Germany in the Olympics. 

One thing is certain: Mack regrets none of the transitions she’s made so far in her career, especially when it comes to joining the Crimson Tide. 

“It was definitely the best decision I’ve ever made,” Mack said. “If I could go back I would do it all again.”

Questions or comments? Email Austin Hannon (Sports Editor) at [email protected]