On this week's Secret Golf Podcast, Elk & Knoxy are joined by LPGA star, and 3 time U.S. Solheim Cup member, Gerina Piller. Hear Gerina talk about her journey to professional golf, the importance of family and how she keeps her marriage to PGA Tour Player Martin Piller solid, plus what her hopes are for the final event of the season - the CME Group Tour Championship. Also, find out about Secret Golf's new collaboration with the LPGA Women's Network.
On this episode of Secret Golf, we look towards the grand finale of the LPGA Tour season. Find out what we're doing with the LPGA Women's Network. And we're joined by three-time Solheim Cup member, Gerina Piller.
(SINGING) It's Secret Golf. It's what I'm looking for. It's where I get up every morning, have my good timing friends, keeps me coming back for more. Secret Golf, we're headed down the road. We just load it up, big show, going looking for the heart and soul. Rolling til the wheels fall off, it's Secret Golf. Shh, it's a secret.
This is Secret Golf with Elk and Knoxy. And it is our podcast. I'm Diane, or Knoxy. And Elk is here as well. This week, I feel like every time we talk to you, you are traveling the United States on a different golf course. And this week, you're in beautiful California.
I certainly am, Diane. Thank you. I am in San Francisco area and I'm getting to play the Olympic Club today, where in fact, we play the US Open Air. Lee Janzen won the US Open when I was there one year. And it's just one of the gems in the country. And I'm lucky enough to do that today.
It's been a good week for you so you. So you get to do that today. I'm sure the past week since we last podcasted has been full of celebrations in Houston after the Astrals winning the World Series.
Oh, my god. Historically speaking, the Astros were given no chance to beat the Boston Red Sox, zero chance to beat the Yankees, and then double, triple, quadruple chance to win against the Dodgers. And we beat them all. So it's been fantastic. I think a million people came to our parade the other day. And we got the whole country to get to see and meet all of our players as far as knowing them through the World Series, some of these great players, like Springer, and [INAUDIBLE], and [INAUDIBLE], all these great stories.
And it's been great. It's been a tough year for Houston, Diane, as you know, with the flood and so on. So it gave Houston a little bit of a spark. And look, we're so thrilled. Everybody has their Astros gear on down there. And it's just all about the Astros right now.
Good. It looks amazing. Another reason to celebrate this week-- well, this time last year we were celebrating for Pat Perez, because this week the PGA Tour is in Mexico at Mayakoba. It's the OHL Classic. And last year, this was the big win for Pat Perez after he'd taken time off to-- he had surgery and worked on a lot of things, came back, and he had the win at Mayakoba.
Well, I think you know you're right. I think this will be the one-year anniversary of Pat's win after being off for a year. I think he's won $6 million. He's won another tiny one in Asia a couple of weeks ago. I think Pat Perez is absolutely a lock for comeback player of the year. And, of course, we love Pat because he's our first Secret Golf player. And he's been with us the longest.
But we've also had other players that have been [INAUDIBLE], Diane. Brian [? Hamann ?] had back-to-back top 10s in Asia. Patton [? Kuzai ?] showed a 64 on Sunday in Vegas, and almost won the tournament. So there's a lot of good stuff going on. But today, I'm very excited, as you know, to talk to our favorite, one of our favorite LPGA girls, Gerina Piller, on our podcast. I am so happy to talk to her.
Yeah, well, we've teamed up. We're doing some work with the LPGA Women's network. And Gerina is going to be the first of the Secret Golf players from the LPGA Tour, that they are going to be showcasing the work that she's been doing with Secret Golf. So on the podcast today, we are joined by LPGA superstar Gerina Piller. Gerina, how are you?
I'm good. How are you, Diane?
I'm great, thanks. It's good to have you on the podcast today, especially because we know you're traveling right now, and you're currently in the airport. So thank you for taking the time to sneak off to a quiet corner and catch up.
That's our downtime, so perfect time.
Yeah, downtime in the airport. Elk, great to have Gerina on today.
Yes. She's my favorite. She knows that. And of course, her husband, Martin, who is now on the PGA Tour, we got to be together. In fact, I'm in California right now. I'm going to get to play Olympic Club today, doing some work. But [INAUDIBLE] Olympia. Haven't played it since US Open was there. So I'm excited for that.
We've got Martins playing in Mexico. And we've got an exciting new initiative with the LPGA Women's Network that is very excited to be able to hear from Gerina on their network. So we've had some questions. Diane, why don't you go through that with Gerina? That would be great.
Yeah, of course. Well Gerina, you're one of our players here at Secret Golf. And your player channel is on our website right now, definitely one of those popular ones that we have on there. So again, with the LPGA Women's Network, it's great that they can actually get this content too, and people can see exactly what you've been doing, and what goes on behind the scenes. So yeah, they've got some questions. We've got questions for you as well. But I think the best thing to do is take it back to the very beginning. So when you were a little girl, how did you get into playing golf in the first place?
Well, it seems like so long ago, but I'm probably not the norm. You would kind of consider me a little girl. I was actually 15 years old. And I grew up playing Little League baseball with the guys. And then there was a couple that wanted to teach me how to play golf.
So my grandparents bought me some golf clubs. And this couple never called. And my mom made me quit playing baseball when I was 12. And then my dad, I played every sport underneath the sun. And when I got to high school, my dad's like, OK, we can't be playing five million sports. You've got to pick two.
And volleyball as was one of them. And he suggested golf. He was like, we have these golf clubs in the garage. Why don't you try it? And I'm thinking, Dad, old, fat men play golf. I don't want to play golf. That's lame. That's not a cool thing to do. And he's like, well, it's like baseball. You swing it like this.
And I'm like, OK, well, I'll give it a go, and just immediately fell in love with it, and joined the high school team, and four years later, got a scholarship to UTEP, and four years after that, turned pro. And here I am. So pretty crazy. It happened really fast. And just very thankful for what golf has given me in my life as far as my , people I've met, people that have become my mentors. And now, obviously, it's my career. So very thankful for that.
Now, you say that your grandparents had brought you golf clubs when you were younger, and it took a while before you actually started playing. Were you good immediately?
No. That's a great question, because the first time I ever played golf, I shot 72 on nine holes, which we all know that's horrific. And I go home, and I'm flipping through the paper, and I saw this golf girl. I don't even know, to be honest, who it was, and was reading up on it.
And she shot 71 in one. And I was thinking, oh, my gosh. Dad, I just shot 72, and she won. And I just shot 72. And he was like, you played nine and she played 18. I was like, oh, I guess I'm not that good.
That's funny. But you've always been sporty. Your mom's a PE teacher, isn't she?
She is. Yeah, she is two years away from being retired. So she's really excited about that. And I grew up playing sports ever since I think I could walk. Yeah, this was probably something that a lot of people don't know. But my mom, it was definitely not my idea. My mom put me in some beauty pageants. And whereas other little girls, their talent was they probably sing opera, or play the piano, or play five instruments at once, and my talent was I got to put on my basketball shorts, shoes, and shot hoops to Funky Cool Medina. So that was my talent.
That is the best.
Could that be your play at Channel Music?
Could that be my walk-up song, if we got walk-up songs for golf?
Oh, my gosh. That's a great idea. But you played a lot of baseball. You were all-state volleyball. You played football as well, didn't you? But when we shot your player channel, I remember you said to Elk that you had a quick spell in high school as a cheerleader as well. So I guess you've tried all. You've seen it from all sides.
I have. I have. Yeah, cheerleading, I think, lasted a year. But it was one of those things where it was actually middle school. And our middle school was pretty small. And it was the middle school team, it was the soccer team, it was the basketball team, which was the volleyball team, and the track team, and also the cheerleading squad. So it was cool thing to do. So it definitely wasn't just my idea. It was just all the girls on my team did everything. So I was like, OK, I might as well just throw in cheerleading as well. So we could check that box.
Exactly. And then it's the best thing to do. You've tried it all, and you can see which one you like the best. And luckily, golf came out on top. So there's another great story that you told when we shot your player channel. And it was when you played in your very first golf tournament. So how long was that after you took up the sport and started to take it seriously?
That was probably about a year. I was actually supposed to go to another high school in my hometown. And the high school I ended up going to, it is very known for its golf program. And so I was at a zone. And so in order to change high schools, you have to sit out a year in varsity sports. And so golf in middle school was not offered.
So in high school you can try-- or in middle school, you can try out for the high school team. And so I used my eighth grade year as my sit out year, that way I was eligible to play my freshman year. I had the ability to shoot under par, but I also had the ability to shoot about 95. So--
So then you went to University of Texas at El Paso. And when you were on the team, were you the number one girl on the college golf team?
Oh, no. That was one of my process for getting into college. I definitely wasn't recruited or anything like that. Me and my dad, he actually made a-- he had a camcorder that sat on his shoulder. And he filmed my golf swing, my chipping, my putting. And we made some VHS tapes. And we each copied them, and put a little packet together, and sent them off to nearby colleges.
And I was primarily looking for a college that I wouldn't go to it if I would be number one, or I wouldn't go to the college that I never would play. So I was looking at a college that, it would challenge me to get better, but at the same side, I would have opportunity to play. And so UTEP was a perfect match, definitely was vying for I think my freshman year, probably that four and five spot. So I definitely didn't lock in being number one. So that was good for me because we had upperclassmen that were good, and I could see where I needed to improve. So that was my goal, and one of the reasons why I chose UTEP.
And then coming out of college, how did that happen? How did it go from finishing college to eventually ending up playing on the LPGA Tour?
Well, I definitely knew by my senior year that I wanted to make a career out of this. And golf is one of those funny things where you know. And it's not like any other sports where you play on a good team in college, or you are successful in college, and that will equate to signing a big deal, or getting drafted, or whatnot. So went to [INAUDIBLE] school, didn't make it through for LPGA and [INAUDIBLE] for the [INAUDIBLE] Tour and LPGA.
So did both. Made it onto the [INAUDIBLE] Tour. And that's where I played three years. And then 2010, I ended up getting my card. At that time, it was dating me. They only had five cards available, and I finished at I think fifth on the [INAUDIBLE] list to get my tour card for 2011.
The process of Q-school, was it terrifying? Do you look back at it as a good experience to go through, or something that was just terrifying and quite overwhelming?
I think a little bit of both. Very stressful league. A lot goes into it. Obviously, you want your game to be peaking at that time. But it's a very intimidating week because it's basically like your whole year next year is riding on [INAUDIBLE]. And golf is one of those things where if you push it all, it will push back. And you've got to try to not try, if that makes any sense. And it's just a very high level stress week. And I would not wish that on anybody.
What advice would you give for girls? Say there's girls that are in your situation, when you were in your final year at college, or girls that are playing on [INAUDIBLE] tour going through Q-school, what advice would you give to them at this stage in their career?
I would just say worked hard and give it 120%, because if you do that, and you make it, that's phenomenal. If you do it, and you don't, then you can look back and say you gave it your all. And that's always been my motto. And it was just growing up in anything, with my mom being a PE coach, and all the PE coaches that I had growing up. I was always taught to give 120%, and that's all you could do.
How important do you think it is to have like that solid family support unit around you when you're going through that stage as well?
It's huge. I think even now in my career, it just really put things in perspective. And I feel like just because I don't win a golf tournament, it doesn't mean I'm winning at life. I have a very loving husband and a great family that loves me, and they care for me, and think about me no matter what I shoot.
My family, I'm one of five in my family, and none of them play golf. And so it's great when I get to go home because we don't talk about golf. And sometimes my parents will call, and they'll realize I'm at the British, or I don't think they've quite grasped the time change. They don't quite grasp-- if I'm in Malaysia, what time is it? Oh, my gosh. Holy cow. Is that the time? I'm like, yeah, we're not going to Mexico.
So it's been a lot of fun just having them as support, and not so much as far as yay, being there for when I do well, but being there for when times are tough.
Yeah. Well, talking about family. And you mentioned him, your very loving husband, Martin Piller, a professional golfer. He's playing in Mayakoba this week on the PGA Tour. And for a lot of people looking at that, it must be an interesting dynamic. So there's you playing on the LPGA tour. Martin's got his own thing going on. How do you balance tour life with having a successful marriage?
With mine and Martin's relationship, it's all we've ever known. We started dating, went [INAUDIBLE] on many tours. And we just accepted our lives as a traveling circus, I guess is what you'd call it. But we've really learned over the years that sacrifice for the other person in our marriage is very important. And this year is a prime example of that.
When Martin missed out on one of his Web.com events to be with me at the Solheim Cup, and later on missed his tour card on the regular season, he ended up winning, but he missed his tour card. But then obviously, he went to the Q-school-- or sorry, the Web.com finals, and was be able to get his cards. So I think it all works out in the end.
And I think just having the mentality of our marriage is forever, and golf may not. And so you got to put your eggs into the basket that is very-- I'm not saying more [INAUDIBLE] important, because golf is very important. But it is longer lasting. And I think that golf isn't always promised. And tomorrow isn't always promised. But I've made a commitment to Martin, him as well to me. And that's something that we're vowed to for the rest of our lives.
Yeah. I did love it when he won on the Web.com, the Ellie Mae Classic this year. And you were at St. Andrews in Scotland. And I remember one of the first videos I saw when I checked it on Twitter was he had you on FaceTime straight away. And with the time difference, it was very early in the morning in Scotland.
But you were still up.
I think it was about 2:00 AM. Yeah, I wasn't going to miss it.
Is it hard for you to not be there for moments like that?
It is. It really is. I feel like we're obviously traveling a lot. And golf is funny because you can't really know when someone's going to win. Of his five wins, I have actually been able to be there for one of them. So that was really special. And if he could just teach me how to win, that would be great.
I'm sure there's going to be a lot more wins on both sides that you're both going to be there for. But for him to be there, for him to miss an event at such an important time in his Web.com year, to be at the Solheim Cup for you, that must have meant so much.
It did. We've always had this-- I don't know if it's really a bet. But it happened, I believe in 20-- I want to say it was 2015. I told him-- I said, you can only go to Germany if you win. And he ended up winning and securing hi [INAUDIBLE] card. He was able to go to Germany with me. And at the beginning of this year, we were talking about Solheim, and same kind of thing. He needed to win in order to go to Solheim.
And he was like, oh, I'll miss my tournament no matter what. And I'm like, no. Your career is very important as well. And so he was able to pull that off. Maybe I should tell him that every year. Maybe I should trick him and tell him the Solheim Cup is [INAUDIBLE]. Yeah.
Talking about the Solheim Cup, so you've played in three, and you've obviously had a lot of success in the Solheim Cup as well. What is that like as a life experience for you?
It is like no other. I think that's one of the greatest honors, is to represent your country. And I can speak for both sides, the Europeans and the Americans. There's 12 girls being represented from each country. And of all the golfers in the world, that very little. And to be one of those 12 is something that I think greatly of. And I feel like it's a really great honor to be part of the team and to be a part of those girls' lives.
Because you don't ever get to play with a team. It's always been an individual sport, unless you went to college. You got to play on a team. But that one time every two years you get to play with a team, and it's really special.
Yeah, especially special for you, because in 2015, you were one of the integral parts of that win for the US team as well. So you must always look back in the Solheim Cup every time you've played with such fond memories.
Yes. I feel like that 2015 [INAUDIBLE] and the memories of that was something that I will never forget. And when I was in college, I definitely wasn't known to be the best putter. And so for me to come through and to make that put, that's been huge for my confidence. And all those people that-- well, basically, with men's golf you can even make fun of it. Hey, you're a great golfer, but you stink at putting. And now I just want to show him that video and be like, take that.
Yeah, I'm sure they've seen it. I'm sure they've seen it many times now. How could you compare the experience of being on the Solheim Cup team to the Olympic golf team, because that was a huge, huge moment as well?
Yes, definitely equally as special. Olympic team, you still win as individuals, but you're still representing the USA. So it was just very special. And for me, being in contention on Sunday to get a medal, and not be [INAUDIBLE]. It's just very minute to have an opportunity to play for my country and for always to be considered an Olympian.
Mm-hm. Yeah. I know it's amazing. Especially for your mom being a PE teacher, it must be something that she tells all of her kids that she teaches all the time. My daughter did it.
She does. Well, it's kind of funny because she had always-- even before I was an Olympian, she would always tell her students. She has kids in your class that will end up going to go on to be an Olympian. And last year, she finally got to tell her kids. And of those two people, one of them is my daughter. So that was very, very special. And she got to be there with me, as well as my dad. So that just made it extra special.
Oh, that's amazing. OK, what would you say is your favorite golf course to play?
Oh, I get asked that a lot. I am definitely not your conventional golfer. I'm pretty easy to please. I think any golf course has good weather that's in good shape, I'm pretty happy.
I love that. That's a great answer.
I just go on, and I say-- I have this rule that if I can't shoot the temperature, then I'm not playing.
So Scotland's got one of the favorites then. Put it that way.
Oh. [INAUDIBLE] has had some pretty good weather in the last couple of British Opens I've played in. So we've definitely lucked out with that.
It's a hit or miss. It definitely is. What about your favorite travel destination? If you and Martin were going on vacation somewhere, where would be the top plate that you would pick to go?
I would always say it's home. We travel a lot, obviously. And I think just coming home is our favorite place to go. But as far as going somewhere in the United States, we like going back to New Mexico where my family is. It's very slow paced, and there's just something about it. The food, obviously, we like Mexican food.
And my mom's cooking, you can't always pass up the mom's cooking. So my little brother is actually still in high school. And I always tease him. I said, you take advantage of living at home, because one of those days, it's going to be gone, and you're going to regret it.
Yeah, and especially when you're traveling the world, and eating in restaurants and hotel rooms all the time. So the home cooking is the best. When you and Martin and have time off, do you play golf together?
We do. Prior to last year, so we definitely don't play against each other. We've learned that that's probably not the best thing for [INAUDIBLE] compete against each other. But for the sake of our marriage, we've finally come to the agreement that I think we should just play a friendly game of golf and have fun, that way it makes it enjoyable on the ride home and at night.
So that we do. I do enjoy playing golf with him, and being out there with him. And our golf game is so opposite that I can learn so much from him and vise versa. So that's really cool to-- if I'm struggling with something, or chipping, his short game is phenomenal. And definitely always picking his brain for those little nuggets of knowledge that I can use in my golf game.
Yeah, for sure. Now the season is almost over. It's the CME Group Tour Championship soon. I know Elk's going to talk to you about that in a few minutes. But what do you have planned for your off-season? Is it going to be a bit of time out? Are you going to be going anywhere, or is it just a case of family time and chill out?
Every year, I always put the clubs away after CME and I don't pick them up until the new year. Definitely time for family time. We go to New Mexico for Thanksgiving, and my family comes up to Texas for Christmas. And it's just one of those times where putting the clubs up, and taking that time to rest and recharge.
And I feel like over the years, and when I've done that, when January comes around, I got the golf bug, and I'm excited to play and practice. So that's worked for me. And obviously, you guys find out what works best for you. I know there's some girls on tour that haven't taken more than a week off. But that's just what I found worked for me. I'm a huge family person and a very homebody.
So my December and a little bit of January is definitely time for my family, and my husband. And we also have a College Golf Fellowship Retreat, which is Christian-based. It's for college golfers. My husband hosts one for the men, and I host one for the women.
So it's a three day, two night, and the girls actually stay at our house. And so this is the fourth year. So we're looking forward to that. And Martin's [INAUDIBLE] as well. So I'm pretty excited about that.
That's incredible. What a great thing to do. But well, definitely, the clubs are not going away right now because next week, it's the CMA Tour Championship. You're going to be heading to Naples in Florida. Elk, what's going on with this? What do you want to talk to Gerina about the big tour championship?
Well, I've just got to thank you, Diane. Final thought, Gerina-- it's been great sitting back and listening to your story. It's always so intriguing to hear. And I think the women's network are going to be so thrilled to hear their stories. It's been a long LPGA season that's coming to a close. The CME is next week. You've had some great moments this year with the Solheim Cup. What are you looking to do to finish strong next week, is really is my final thought.
Well, I've had some really good success at Naples. And so I would really love to go out with a bang and win my first LPGA event. So I love the course, I love the weather. Like I said, it's in good shape, and it's good weather in Florida at this time of year. But just looking to go out there, and finish strong, and ready for that offseason.
I feel the energy in your voice. So great catching up with you, Gerina. We'll be following you, of course, next week. And we'll be following that, and this week in Mexico. And we're pulling for you.
Thank you. Thanks so much. Have fun at Olympics.
Thank you. I can't wait. I'll probably even shoot an 80 out there, it's so hard. Thanks, Gerina.
Thank you so much, Gerina. It was great to talk to you. And yes, good luck for next week. Enjoy your family time at home, and especially your offseason too.
OK, thank you. All right, see you.
So brilliant to have Gerina on the podcast today. She tells the best stories. And Elk wasn't lying when he said that she is his favorite without a shadow of a doubt. But yeah, good luck to Gerina, and of course, our other six golf girls, Gabby Lopez, Stacy Lewis, Brittany Lang all playing in the CMA Group Tour Championship next week, and playing Blue Bay in China this week on the LPGA Tour.
So as we said earlier, we have got together with the LPGA Women's Network, and we are going to be showcasing some of Gerina's Secret Golf player channel videos on there for the next six weeks. So you can go and check them out. They launch on Monday. But there's currently a sweepstake running for new LPGA Women's Network subscribers. This is brilliant.
One lucky winner is going to win a VIP trip for two, an inside-the-ropes experience, and a gift from Tiffany and Co. You can't really complain about that, can you? The deadline for this is November the 30th. And all the details can be found at lpgawomensnetwork.com. You'll find everything you need to know right there.
But yeah. As I said, on Monday, our Gerina Piller Secret Golf player channel videos are going to launch on the LPGA Women's Network as well. So you can go and have a look there. Of course, everything's online at secretgolf.com also. And we'll be back with another podcast next week.