Mariah Stackhouse’s residence in Atlanta should be rather quiet this time of year.
Instead, the 26-year-old-old Riverdale native, now a three-year veteran on the LPGA Tour, spends most of her days at home, unable to continue living out her dream at the highest level possible for women’s professional golf.
The culprit behind Stackhouse’s unexpected downtime in early July is the same of most professional athletes around the world. Just three tournaments into the 2020 LPGA Tour season, The COVID-19 Pandemic sent Stackhouse and her fellow competitors home until further notice.
Her last LPGA Tour event was on Feb. 13, just shy of five months ago.
As much as Stackhouse would like to be practicing for upcoming events, rather than practicing just to keep her game as sharp as she can, she hasn’t looked at her nearly five-month break from a completely negative standpoint.
“I don’t remember a time since before college where I’ve been home for this long,” Stackhouse said. “So it’s actually given me an opportunity to be with my family a bit more and my best friends who still live in the area.”
I definitely miss traveling and I miss the competition and the opportunity to earn, but on the flip side, the priority now is just keeping ourselves as LPGA players as safe as possible. We’re not in a rush to get started until we know that is in place. I’m not going to sit here and complain about time at home that I’ve never had.”
When she’s not playing practice rounds at her home course, the Club of Georgia in Alpharetta or practicing her short game at local courses in Atlanta, she’s found time to catch some fresh air in other ways.
“I’ve found a lot of trails in the Atlanta area because it’s safer to spend time with people outdoors than indoors right now,” Stackhouse said. “Recently I’ve gone up to Tallulah Falls and Amicalola State Park and done that stuff. I’ve gone quite a few evenings to Piedmont Park just to hangout. I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to just kind of be stationary.”
On Monday, Stackhouse was at the Atlanta Athletic Club in Johns Creek, which will play host to the 67th KPMG Women’s PGA Championship scheduled for June 22-27, 2021.
The LPGA last played an event in the state of Georgia 14 years ago when Eagle’s Landing Golf Club hosted a tournament in 2006, the last of a 14-year run that course had hosted.
Not only will the 2021 Women’s PGA Championship mark the LPGA’s return to Georgia, but it will also mark the second time the course has hosted a major championship. The Atlanta Athletic Club was the host site for the U.S Women’s Open in 1990.
Sponsored by KPMG, Stackhouse said she is very excited about the LPGA's return to the state of Georgia.
“It’s been over 10 years since the LPGA has come through Georgia,” Stackhouse said. “I remember the tournament that they used to have down on the south side that I would go to every year. Now for the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship to be coming through and it being a major, I think that’s going to spark a lot of excitement for golf fans in the area. Especially because the women haven’t been through here in so long.”
Stackhouse is a 2012 graduate of North Clayton High School where she won three individual state titles as a freshman, sophomore and senior.
She also became the youngest African-American golfer ever to qualify for the U.S. Open at the age of 17 in 2011.
She went on to have a dominant collegiate career at Stanford where she helped lead the Cardinal to the 2015 NCAA Division 1 Championship and was a four-time All-American.
Right after graduating from Stanford in 2016, Stackhouse was signed by KPMG before earning her LPGA Tour credentials.
“It’s been incredible,” Stackhouse said of her partnership with KPMG. “ I hadn’t gone through qualifying school yet, so it was a leap of faith in my ability that I would earn my status on the tour and be out here. I tell that story just to kind of define my relationship with them. It’s always been incredibly supportive and I feel like I have a solid team with them behind me. I’m proud to represent them on the golf course.”
Stackhouse went on to earn her tour card in late 2017 and has been a member on the LPGA Tour ever since. In three-plus years on the tour, Stackhouse has competed in 64 events and has made the cut 35 times.
Her best career finish to date was a three-way tie for 5th at last year’s ShopRite LPGA Classic in Galloway, New Jersey.
“Last summer at the ShopRite Classic going into the final round I was in second place,” Stackhouse said. “I had an opportunity to win. I ended up T-5, but it had been awhile since I had been in that position to be in contention to win a championship.”
It re-lit a fire in me because I missed that. I missed going into the final round and having a shot to win the event that I was in. You’re not just out there to keep your tour card year in and year out. You’re out there to win and sometimes I think it takes that experience to put it back into perspective and renew that fire in you.”
While Stackhouse has yet to reach her full potential in her eyes, the opportunity she has received to play at the highest level is one she isn’t taking for granted.
“The experience has been one of a lifetime,” Stackhouse said. “I think that in terms of my competing, I’ve had some good stretches and I’ve had some stretches where I’ve fallen short of my goals. But that’s all part of the process. I genuinely believe that I’m going to figure out how to make it consistent for me out here. When that happens, I look forward to what I’m going to be able to accomplish.”
Both longevity on the tour and ultimately winning tournaments is what she hopes her immediate future holds on the LPGA.
“I think that’s the key,” Stackhouse said. “Having longevity, but having that success in there, too. You can keep your tour card but not necessarily have had the successful career that you envisioned for yourself. So I want to make sure I do both. I want there to be some major championships under the belt, mainly the KPMG Women’s Championship.”
The LPGA Tour is set to resume for the first time later this month at the LPGA Drive On Championship in Toledo, Ohio.