The New Era

Mackenzie Lee

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This series is brought to you by United Dairy Industry of Michigan.

Since I first picked up a golf club at the age of three, I’ve been working for this moment.

This is year one in college, and I couldn’t be more excited to be a Mustang.

And as one of three freshmen on our team, this marks a new era of golf here at SMU.

Being a part of it is one of the most rewarding feelings ever.

Now, it’s time to let everyone know who we are.

Showing what I’ve got

I don’t think anyone would consider me cocky or arrogant, but I’m confident.

I’ve always had a burning desire to win.

That’s why I always give 100% when I’m out on the golf course.

Whether it’s a national golf tournament, a practice session, or a nice scramble with some friends — my competitive juices are definitely flowing.

Growing up in Little Rock, Arkansas, I felt like I had to work a bit harder as we weren’t necessarily known as a golfing hub.

There weren’t many golfers around me, and very few made a name for themselves coming from Little Rock.

So, I was determined to be the exception to that rule.

I was going to make it by outworking everyone and putting my best foot forward day in and day out.

Fast forward until now, and I can proudly say that I’ve accomplished that.

I always believe that your work ethic is one of the most important factors, separating the good from the best.

There are so many factors you can’t control on the golf course — your attitude and overall willingness to work is not one of those factors.

So, I was committed to bringing that energy 24/7, 365.

Joining SMU

But despite my early success and putting my name out there, not many schools were actively recruiting me.

Covid was a tough time for recruits as it was difficult to visit campuses, meet coaches, and get a feel for the different environments.

So, there was definitely a time where I wasn’t sure if all my hard work would actually pay off.

But then, fortunately, SMU came.

While other schools were unsure of how many scholarships they would have and how many spots they had open due to Covid and fifth-year seniors, SMU was ready to build a new culture.

The coaches here were great at communicating their vision of what SMU had to offer.

I had the opportunity to go on a recruiting visit and was floored by what the university had to offer.

The city of Dallas is a beautiful backdrop to have as a place to learn, the facilities were world-class, and the education programs were plentiful.

After visiting, I fell in love and thought, “This place is where I want to spend the next few years of my life.”

SMU was the only offer I received, but it was the only offer I needed.

I found my new home.

I don't think anyone would consider me cocky or arrogant, but I'm confident. I've always had a burning desire to win. That's why I always give 100% when I'm out on the golf course. Whether it's a national golf tournament, a practice session, or a nice scramble with some friends — my competitive juices are definitely flowing.

The transition

You can talk to everyone you know about what being a first-year student at SMU is like, but you’ll never truly know until you go through it.

I think the most challenging part of the transition has been the balancing act of being a student-athlete.

I’m a student and an athlete, and I want to excel in both athletics and academics.

The education here is top-notch, and getting everything out of my SMU experience matters tremendously to me.

Yes, I have big dreams of professional golf, but my academics are equally as important.

So, that’s been a challenge, but I’m starting to work on getting that routine together and understanding what it takes to get everything done well.

The kids can play

I’m still in the early days of my first season, but so far, it’s been everything I thought it’d be and more.

As a team, I love our energy and spirit.

We are all on the same page, working together to make this a top program.

This seems like an incredible group of people to be around for the next four years.

As far as this first year, I’m not afraid to say it — we want to be a Top 10 team. Currently, we are #15.

That’s a big goal, and we have some work to do, but I think we are heading in the right direction.

Personally, I’m picking up where I left off in high school. I’ve led SMU in both tournaments we’ve played so far, and while this early success has given me a boost of confidence, I know it’s a long road ahead.

The season is young, and it’s year one of a four-year plan.

Still, it’s nice to see our chemistry and camaraderie clicking from the start.

Looking back on everything, it’s surreal to me that I’m here playing D1 golf.

I’m not sure when this honeymoon phase will fade or if it ever will, but right now, I’m just taking it day by day, round by round, swing by swing.

I’m no longer the big fish in Little Rock — I’m a Mustang at SMU, trying to make my mark on the Hilltop, and I can’t wait to see what happens next!