Star Amateur Rachel Heck Announces Surprising Decision About Her Future

The former World No.3 amateur wrote a letter - published by No Laying Up - which explained the reasons behind her decision

A close-up shot of Rachel Heck at the 2022 Curtis Cup
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Former World No.3 amateur golfer Rachel Heck says she has "come to realize" that it is no longer her dream to play professional golf and that she will remain an amateur indefinitely.

An ex-college golf teammate of LPGA Tour star Rose Zhang, Heck is in her senior year on Stanford University's women's golf team and has secured NCAA individual (2021) and team championships (2022) while a Cardinal.

Having also taken part in two Curtis Cups (2021 and 2022), Heck has claimed eight collegiate wins - the tied-third most in Stanford University history.

Despite looking for a long time like she would go on to take the professional game by storm as soon as she was ready, a debilitating back injury set her back somewhat and ultimately led her down a different path in life.

In a letter published by No Laying Up, the supremely-talented Heck explained that although she resumed playing while at college, she felt something was missing in her life and severe depression began to set in.

In the letter, she wrote: "Even when I was able to start playing again, I knew something was not right. I did not recognize myself anymore, on or off the course. All my joy was gone, and all my smiles were fake.

"That fall, I became severely depressed. In that period of darkness, I realized I needed something more than golf, and I vowed that I would find it. I told my parents I wanted, perhaps, to try Air Force ROTC. They told me I was crazy. It would be simply impossible to keep up with Stanford academics, Division I golf, a social life, and the military."

Further disruption to her golf program due to a variety of different illnesses or injuries ensued and the next time Heck would play a full post-season arrived in her senior year.

"Right now, the next step is not professional golf," she continued, before going on to explain how her life - which once revolved solely around the sport of golf - now features a handful of enriching and enjoyable factors, including time with the Air Force.

Heck said: "During these turbulent years largely away from the game, I fell in love with life again. Even though the late nights of writing papers bring immense stress, I absolutely love what I study.

"Even though I dread waking up at 4 a.m. on Fridays, I cherish every memory made with my ROTC wingmen. Even though it scares me to step away from the game and into an unknown future, I could not be more excited."

Rose Zhang of the United States celebrates with the trophy and Stanford teammate Rachel Heck after winning in a playoff during the final round of the Augusta National Women's Amateur at Augusta National Golf Club on April 01, 2023

Rose Zhang (R) celebrates with Rachel Heck after winning the Augusta National Women's Amateur in 2023

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Heck, who qualified for the 2017 US Women's Open aged just 15, said she is looking forward to playing amateur events and "many more USGA Championships" throughout her life but knows a life out on tour is not for her due to a few key reasons.

She explained: "I was strongly considering attributing my decision to my injuries. It is true that even if I wanted to, I do not know if my body would hold up on tour. But frankly, after a couple of years of painful deliberation, I have come to realize that I do not want to play professional golf.

"I do not want a life on the road and in the public eye. I no longer dream of the U.S. Open trophies and the Hall of Fame. And I realize now that these dreams were never what my dad intended when he first put a club in my hand.

"He pushed me when I was young so that I could find myself in the position I am right now: Stepping into the future equipped with the skills to tackle any challenge and the courage to pave my own path."

Rachel Heck of Team USA in action during the Day Three singles matches of The Curtis Cup at Merion Golf Club on June 12, 2022 in Ardmore, Pennsylvania

Heck celebrates during the 2022 Curtis Cup singles

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Going on to give further thanks to her parents for the way they brought her up to live as much of a "normal" life as possible, Heck finished her letter with: "In the spring he and my mom will pin on my Lieutenant bars. They will watch me walk across the stage and receive my Stanford degree. I will begin an internship in private equity. Golf did, indeed, take me far.

"So here’s to new roads, and new challenges. Here’s to the people who made me, me. Not Rachel the golfer. Just Rachel.

"I do not know what the future holds. However, I am grateful to God for showing me the next step, and I am grateful to the game that gave me the world."

Heck is set to graduate from Stanford with a degree in Political Science and will begin an internship in private equity after being pinned as a Lieutenant of the United States Air Force.

Jonny Leighfield
Staff Writer

Jonny Leighfield is our Staff News Writer who joined Golf Monthly just in time for the 2023 Solheim Cup and Ryder Cup. He graduated from the University of Brighton with a degree in Sport Journalism in 2017 and spent almost five years as the sole sports reporter at his local newspaper. An improving golfer who still classes himself as ‘one of the worst players on the Golf Monthly team’, Jonny enjoys playing as much as he can and is hoping to reach his Handicap goal of 18 at some stage. He attended both the 150th and 151st Opens and is keen to make it an annual pilgrimage.