"Off the Course" is where we talk to the players, learn about who they are, and get their thoughts about playing the game. From time to time we'll also interview college players about their junior careers and how college golf is different. We welcome your comments and suggestions. E-mail us or call toll free- 888-549-4653.

Nicole Hage

Miami, FL

2002 Polo All-American - First Team

Medalist - 2002 AJGA hp Junior
Medalist - 2001 AJGA Robert Trent Jones
Runner-up - 2002 Doral
Runner-up - 2002 AJGA Shell World Golf Village

Nicole is a senior in high school living in Miami Florida and we spoke to her at the Doral Junior.

We're sitting here with Nicole who is the "old lady" at Doral having played here nine years, is that true?

Yeah. I was 8 years old the first year I played Doral.

Were you born in the United States?

Yes I was, here in Miami.

You've been playing a long time. Tell us about that.

I've been playing since I was three. My Dad used to be a scratch golfer. I used to throw the biggest fit if my Dad would leave me home. He'd tried to sneak out the door and I would go crazy. So he would take me, go to the end of the range, and give me a small bucket of balls. He cut down a five wood for me. So that's how it started, all with Dad.

When did you play in your first tournament?

I lived in Plano, Texas for a while and I started playing when I was seven in little tournaments at Hank Haney's Golf Ranch. I had my first real instructor there so I got a taste for it. I played 9-hole local tournaments.

Then came Doral?

Well we moved back to Miami and I started playing in the Dade Area Golf Association junior events and Broward junior golf. When I was 13, the AJGA created their "All Star Junior Series", so I played in those. One of those got me to the AJGA Polo event and I made it to the sweet 16 in match play.

When you were 13?

Yes. Maybe I was 14, it was 1999.

Did you play any other sports?

No.I tried other sports. I tried tennis, gymnastics, ballet, but I didn't like it. I'm not a contact sport person.

Well, ballet isn't suppose to be a contact sport.

Oh yeah, you're right. I don't like any of those type of aggressive moving sports. I like the ball to just sit there and I hit it.

That sounds like the start of an answer to our next question. Why do you play golf?

First, I've been playing since I was little so it's sort of always been there. But I also enjoy the competition, meeting people from everywhere, and travelling.

Do you like the "team" events?

Yes I do. The Canon Cup was fun. We didn't do very well and we had to win all our matches the second day to win the Cup. That didn't happen but it was still fun. The Solheim Cup, an all U.S. girls team, was incredible. Jane Park was my partner and she made this downhill 40 to 50 foot putt on the 18th. We were screaming and yelling, going crazy. It was nuts. Many of the team are here and we've been sitting around laughing and talking about that event.

Tell us about the other things you do besides golf.

Well there's shopping. I love to shop. If I couldn't be a golfer I'd be a shopper.

If we got some people together in a room without you there, what would they tell us about you? How would they describe you?

The serious mother type, goody- goody person. Oh and they would say that I am brutally honest. I will tell you how it is and there is no beating around the bush. If someone asks me about their makeup and it doesn't look right I'll tell them straight up "Look, you have too much make-up on, it doesn't look good."

You're off to Auburn, is that right? How many schools did you look at?

Four but when I saw Auburn that was it. I got contacted by 50 schools probably and Auburn really wasn't in the picture. But I was looking for a big school and when I saw it, that was it. I've gone to a small school and I wanted the whole culture shock..."Oh my gosh" kinda thing. Auburn is 20,000 students. I also wanted a team that got along and I've never seen a group get along like the Auburn team does. Coach Evans and I connected instantly too, and that was a big deal. I also hate cold weather, so that was a factor.

What do you think golf has given you?

First I would say confidence. Also the experience of working really hard at something and seeing the results.

What's your practice routine like?

I don't hit a great many balls on the range. I spend a lot of time on chipping and putting. I'm a good ball striker so I work on the short game. I have to stay on top of my chipping and putting, because if I don't it gets away from me. If I go two days without putting, it's horrible.

Where do we go from here?

College obviously, I'm ready to move on. I used to hear that I was the baby but now I see class 2006, 2007 and I feel so old now.

Well thanks Nicole. Congratulations on going to Auburn and we looking forward to watching your college career.

Thank you. This has been fun.