When Cierra Pulse first picked up a golf club, she never dreamed how far the sport would take her.
Back then, she was just out having fun with her dad, Mick, which was good enough for her.
Now, some 15 years later, she is finishing up her senior year at Central College. During that time Pulse has been to Texas, Florida, Arizona and California, places she likely would never have seen otherwise. She has played some of the best courses in the country, another added bonus.
And when she graduates in May, she will begin a career in golf as a group coordinator at Sand Valley Golf Resort in Nekoosa, Wisconsin.
What started innocently enough, just hitting balls with her dad in the family’s backyard in Stronghurst, Illinois, has turned into a way of life for Pulse.
“I remember when I was really young I did junior golf at Burlington Golf Club with Joe Butler. I did the Drive, Chip and Putt contest and then I took a break until high school,” Pulse said. “Being in golf pretty much my entire life, I developed a real interest in golf and now I get to start my career in golf right after I graduate. It’s going to be a little different being six hours north of home, but I’m excited for the change. I get to stay in the golf industry and be around the game. It’s going to be a fun job.”
Pulse, who took lessons at BGC from Butler and learned the game from his dad, took a brief hiatus from golf before picking it up again at West Central High School in Biggsville, Illinois. There, Pulse was forced to raise the level of her game. Due to low numbers on the girls team, Pulse played on the boys team during the season, then switched back to girls for conference and the postseason run. Pulse became a long-ball hitter in high school and learned to be more competitive. She qualified for state her junior season, finishing tied for 64th in Class A.
“I definitely think that helped me, especially playing from the longer distances from the men’s tees,” Pulse said. “It made me feel good when I would beat a guy in golf. That really helped me improve my game.”
Pulse has improved by leaps and bounds at Central. She came in as a freshman with a 92 average. This season, she is averaging 82 strokes per 18 holes.
“I have a great support system up here with my teammates and coaches,” Pulse said. “I have significantly improved in my four years and my stats show that. I am really happy about that.”
The highlight for Pulse came last May when Central qualified for the NCAA Division III national tournament at Bay Oaks Country Club in Houston, Texas by winning the Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. At nationals, Pulse shot the best round of her life in the second round, carding a 3-over-par 75.
“That was an incredible experience,” Pulse said. “I met a lot of great people and played against some of the best Division III golfers in the country. It was very competitive, but also a lot of fun.”
Pulse said one of the best lessons she has learned through golf is time management. The Dutch play a split season, with the main portion of their season in the fall and another chunk in the spring. She said practices in the fall are about two hours a day six days a week. In the spring it is 1 1/2 hours a day five days a week. At the Division III level, there is a heavy emphasis on academics, so classroom work and lab work take priority over athletics. She has learned to make the most of her time, no matter which area of life it involves.
“It has made me more productive,” Pulse said. “If I didn’t have golf, I would probably be lazy and not get my work done. Golf has made me productive, organized and hard-working.”
Pulse, who earned all-conference honors as a freshman and junior, was voted Most Valuable Player in 2016 and Most Improved Player in 2015, is down to her final two tournaments for Central. But her career in golf is just beginning, just in a different aspect. Pulse is looking forward to her next adventure in the game she has loved since her dad first put a club in her hand some 15 years ago.
“One of my favorite things about Central is how much I have traveled and all the elite golf courses I have got to play,” Pulse said. “I’ve got to make a lot of new friends here. It’s just been overall really fun.”