SYLVANIA, Ohio —
If you come to Highland Meadows Golf Course for the Marathon Classic this weekend, you will see plenty of the world’s top golfers. Many of those LPGA golfers have been coming here for over 10 years and the same goes for veteran Natalie Gulbis.
“I love this golf course. I love this place,” Gulbis told WTOL's Jordan Strack Wednesday afternoon. “My favorite thing has nothing to do with golf. I stay with the same housing I did my rookie year and it’s always like a trip back memory lane. So many familiar faces, whether it's the locker room, the tournament director, or volunteers. This is my 19th season on this course, so seeing the same people over and over again. Or seeing little junior players that came out my first couple of years, and now they're in high school or off to college, that's really cool too.”
A few years ago, Gulbis was not sure she would even be on the course playing competitive golf again. Since 2008, she has had four back surgeries and going into 2018, retirement looked more likely than playing on Saturday’s and Sunday’s once again.
“The reasons I’ve taken these mini retirements are because of my back. I've had four surgeries and usually when my back is struggling, it's hard to think that I would come back, she said. “Usually a doctor or an orthopedic has said, ‘After this surgery I don't think you're going to be able to come back from it.’
“I usually think it's going to be the end of my career, but I’ve been really blessed, and quite frankly really lucky that the surgeries have been great. 've recovered really well from them. I love to compete. I love to play on tour. As long as my body holds up and i can be competitive I like playing.”
Although she has one lone LPGA tournament win which came in 2007 at the Evian Championship, she has had no shortage of success over her career. Over the course of her career, she has earned nearly $5 million and has finished in the top-10 37 times.
Even with the numerous back surgeries, rehab, and struggle of playing golf at a high level again, the 36-year old Gulbis has exceeded the average longevity of an LPGA player.
“I thought I would play for 10 years, the average is between five and 10 years,” she said. “I just didn't imagine what it would be like to play if I was in my thirties out here. But that's what golf is like, you play golf forever.”
And even if some day she can no longer play golf professionally, she still plans to keep playing until she cannot any longer.
“I've always loved golf, and even if I wasn't playing golf on tour i'd still be playing all the time.”