Leslie Fischer tried other sports, but golf provided the challenge she sought.
“It really tests your knowledge,” she said.
Fischer’s knack for the sport didn’t hurt either. When other sports began to have an effect on her golf game, they had to go.
“I tried softball,” Fischer said, “but it kind of messed up my golf swing, so I stopped in sixth grade.”
Fischer, a Rock Bridge junior, has played since she was 7. Her father, Perry Fischer taught her.
“He started playing golf later and he wanted me to start earlier so I could get talented,” Fischer said.
So, when she hurt her right shoulder playing in the 2003 Show-Me State Games at A.L. Gustin Golf Course, Fischer didn’t think anything of it. It wasn’t going to keep her from the game she had been playing for nine years.
The injury almost did, though. She couldn’t get back on the course for nine months.
She had caught too much ground on one shot, driving her arm up into her shoulder. Fischer’s father had been caddying for her.
“To her credit, she refused to quit even though there were five holes left,” he said. “She was crying and wincing. She’s a tough kid.”
That toughness continued through the summer and into Fischer’s sophomore season at Rock Bridge.
“I kept telling myself, ‘I can still play’ because I really wanted to,” Fischer said. “It hurt every time I swung, but I didn’t want to stop, so I just dealt with the pain.”
At the end of that season Fischer had to face reality. Her shoulder still hurt. To compensate for the pain, she had changed her swing, developing a number of bad habits.
Doctors said she had almost cracked her rotator cuff and playing through the pain had made the injury worse.
Fischer’s shoulder needed to heal, so she stopped and didn’t pick up a club for nine months.
For some, nine months of not playing your favorite sport would be difficult. For Fischer, it was a necessity. It was something she needed to do if she wanted to keep playing. She understood that the best thing for her golf game would be not to play.
“I found other things to do,” Fischer said. “I don’t even remember. Just social things to fill the time.”
The wait was worth it. This past July, Fischer picked up a club again. She was able to swing pain free, but the nine month absence from the game had taken its toll.
“It was really awkward to swing the club,” Fischer said. “I really had to work to get it right again.
Fischer went to a golf camp later that month in Springfield.
For the first time, she received instruction from someone other than her father, who was self-taught.
The camp, run by Rick Grayson, a coach who has worked with Tiger Woods, broke Fischer’s swing down.
“I’d been taught how to play and swing the club, but the camp actually showed me the fundamentals,” she said.
Now Fischer is nearing the end of her junior season, her best yet. She’s shooting consistently in the low 40s for nine holes, compared to high 40s a year ago. She also shot in the 70s for 18 holes for the first time this summer.
“Now she knows better than I do when something’s wrong with her swing,” Perry Fischer said. “She’s able to diagnose what’s wrong while she’s playing and fix it.”
The injury is entirely in the past for Leslie Fischer and her game is quickly developing.
“I really haven’t seen any struggles or frustrations with her coming back from the injury at all,” Rock Bridge coach Andrew Tiedemann said. “She’s taking good steps and keeping her shoulder healthy.”
Tiedemann said Fischer’s play is important for the team’s success, but she also has helped her teammates improve their games.
“On the driving range she’ll work with some of the girls in order to improve their swing or help with other clubs they’re struggling with,” he said. “She’s a strong player and I’m sure next year we’ll see more improvements.”
Fischer’s looking to shoot regularly in the high 30s her senior season.
After that, she hopes her talent takes her far enough to get a college scholarship.
At college, Fischer is interested in going into either sociology or psychology.
With an interest in the human psyche, it is no wonder Fischer is taken by golf.
“It’s a head game,” she said. “Anyone can hit the ball, but to be good, you really have to analyze your shot.”