Raegan discovers passion for golf
Raegan Bellik was merely looking for something new when she decided to take up golf 12 years ago, a “reinvention,” so to speak. Little did the Genoa resident know how it would turn into a life-changing experience that put her on track to become a LPGA teaching professional — currently one of only three Class A LPGA professionals in Northern Nevada.
And working with a classroom at Sunridge Golf Club at the northern end of Carson Valley, Bellik says she could not possibly be any happier.
“There are almost 30,000 PGA professionals in the world and only 1,700 LPGA professionals, so it’s a really elite group of women,” the soft-spoken Bellik said. “It’s a tough program to get through. To actually go through and finish it is a huge commitment. It was a learning process for me, but I’m really glad I was able to accomplish that because it’s something I’ll have for the rest of my life.”
It’s the reward of successfully working through a three-step process that took her to Daytona, Fla., in 2014, to Charlotte, N.C., in 2015 and to Las Vegas in 2016.
“I found out in February that I finally got my Class A and it’s almost surreal,” she said. “It’s just been such lot of work and then all of a sudden you accomplish something, and you’re like, ‘Oh, my God.’ I’m thrilled because probably of all the things I’ve tried to do in life, this is by far the most difficult.”
That’s saying something given the athletic background Bellik has had dating to the early 1990s when she was a world-ranked jet ski racer known as “The Rager” and an extreme skier. Before that, she was a standout basketball player at McQueen High School in Reno.
“I’ve always been kind of a high level athlete, I raced jet skis professionally and I competed in freestyle skiing and then realized I couldn’t do that at an older age, so golf was meant to kind of reinvent myself so I could have a longer athletic career,” she said.
She smiled when asked about the night-and-day difference between golf and the sports she formerly pursued.
“You don’t really see it happen too often,” Bellik said. “But once I get going on something, I’m pretty serious about it.”
Bellik has been a major asset in her new job, if you ask Sunridge General Manager Ken Stott.
“Everybody loves her. She’s one of those people who walks into a room and lights it up with her presence,” Stott said. “She’s just a down-to-earth girl who’s always ready to work. No job is too big for her. And when she isn’t working, she’s always down at the range working on her game or helping someone else with their game. Everyone who has had a lesson from her, and there have been guys who are already good golfers, and they’ve said, ‘Man, she helped me.’
“I told her she’s got to stop giving those guys lessons because now they’re beating all of us in the men’s club,” he added with a laugh.
When Bellik took up golf after moving from Lake Tahoe to Carson Valley, she had no aspirations to become a professional player. She began by playing weekly tournaments with the Genoa Lakes Ladies’ Golf Club — and was good enough to win the club championship in 2013 — and in time was encouraged by Lou Eiguren, director of golf and head professional at Genoa Lakes Golf Club, to consider becoming a teaching professional.
“I had a lot of backing from my club and from Lou,” Bellik said. “So I entered the program, went through the first stages to see how I liked it, and once I started the program, I totally fell in love with it.”
Being a relative newcomer to golf has actually been an advantage when it comes to teaching students how to play, if you ask Bellik.
“That pretty much is what makes my teaching program more complete, in my opinion,” she said. “I started golf late in life so I know how difficult it is and I’m pretty compassionate in that area. I’ve been through that psychological doubting where they are, and not that long ago.”
Communication is the key to teaching, she added.
“The biggest thing I have to do is make a connection with people, get them laughing, make them comfortable so that they’re in a receiving mode to begin with,” Bellik said. “And that’s hard because it’s already a hard sport and then you have this professional person evaluating you. I like to come at it from a totally different perspective that’s casual. Golf is not brain surgery. Anybody can learn it. Just keep it really simple, keep it fun, keep it funny and people progress. And they get excited and like, ‘Wow, I had no idea. This is something I can actually do.’”
Furthermore, golf is a sport that teaches humility.
“It’s difficult, but any sport is difficult,” she explained. “It’s very mental. Unlike other sports where you can muscle your way through if you’re not feeling too good or you’re nervous or whatever, golf is the polar opposite. You have to continually back off … do less and try to control your emotions. It sounds easy to do, but your mind is a powerful thing and it dictates a lot of what goes on in your game.”
Bellik feels fortunate to be at Sunridge, which features an undulating layout that winds around the Indian Hills area with a view across Carson Valley and Jobs Peak in the background.
“To have a facility like this with a complete open range, a great chipping and putting facility, I just really feel fortunate to have an opportunity like this,” she said. “It was completely off my radar and then when I was looking for a new place to teach I happened to stop here one day and I was just blown away. I was like, ‘Oh, my gosh. This is such a great facility. It was just a match made in Heaven.”