How golf gave this pro surfer a fresh perspective on her sport

Molly Picklum

Pro surfer Molly Picklum is an avid golfer too.

Brent Bielmann/World Surf League; Courtesy Molly Picklum

Billed as Australian surfing’s next big thing, 20-year-old Molly Picklum’s star has been on the rise ever since she started competing in 2018.

Picklum already has back-to-back Australian Championship titles to her name, as well as the 2019 Australian Pro Junior title. And in February, Picklum claimed her first-ever Championship Tour title at Sunset Beach in Hawaii, winning the Hurley Pro. The win powered her to the top of the women’s rankings, where she’s now fourth.

So what does all that have to do with golf?

A lot!

During a recent chat, Picklum said that learning to play the game has been a boon for her surfing career.

“My golf journey started in South Africa,” Picklum told me. “My coach is a passionate golfer, and he’s quite good himself. And I was surfing, and I just, kind of got too obsessed with it, and lost all flow, and just lost the love for my own sport a little bit.

“I just needed a new hobby,” she continued. “And also, too, I think golf is slow, and quite intentional, and that practice helps me a lot. So it’s been really cool to open the shoulders up and get a swing going. Because I think I learned a lot to find the love for my sport again by just switching off from it and loving another sport. So, yeah, golf’s definitely got an incredible little spot in my heart.”

Picklum was a natural from the start, and quickly became an ardent fan of the game.

“I was that person — I wasn’t even sitting on the fence, I didn’t even have an interest in the game. And I got conned to go once, and from then it’s been the most pleasurable experience that I’ve enjoyed,” she said. “My team was a little concerned, I was really playing golf more than I was surfing. Now I pack a sand wedge in my board bag and like three or four balls. So, I mean, it comes with me.”

Picklum found that golf and surfing share a couple of important attributes, especially when it comes to the mental side.

Paul Loegering poses for a photo.
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“I feel like golf, it’s quite a long game, so you can look ahead. And in surfing it’s the same. You want to take the trophy at the end of the day, at the end of the event. And it’s just like you can break it down into moment to moment, and every single ball is a new opportunity. And for us it’s very similar because every wave is a new opportunity to shine.”

Perhaps most importantly for Picklum, golf has given her a way to unplug from the pro surf grind, something she ultimately feels gives her an advantage in her surf competition.

“I think the lessons from golf have given me an edge, for sure,” she said. “It’s made me mature and understand things about life maybe earlier through the sport.”

So what’s next for Picklum? This week, it’s the VIVO Rio Pro, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. But once she’s back home, you can likely find her at her local track, Shelly Beach Golf Club, about 90 minutes north of Sydney on Australia’s Central Coast. And if you have room for a fourth, Picklum may even join you.

“That’s what is also really special, is I like to turn out to my local, and not even go with friends,” Picklum said. “Because you meet people, all new people, and you share a passion, and then you tell stories as you’re walking down each fairway.

“I think golf is very user-friendly for everyone. Everyone can enjoy a good moment away from your phone.”

Another shot, another wave. Another opportunity to shine. Editor

As a four-year member of Columbia’s inaugural class of female varsity golfers, Jessica can out-birdie everyone on the masthead. She can out-hustle them in the office, too, where she’s primarily responsible for producing both print and online features, and overseeing major special projects, such as GOLF’s inaugural Style Is­sue, which debuted in February 2018. Her origi­nal interview series, “A Round With,” debuted in November of 2015, and appeared in both in the magazine and in video form on