By Brian Hurlburt, @lasvegasgolfinsider
In the day and age of the ‘Influencer’, it is sometimes difficult to determine perception from reality. When it comes to Instagram star @GolfMami_, an 11-time country club champion who came to America from Mexico as a young girl, there is much more than meets the social media eye.
“The first thing that comes to mind when I think about golf is just my love for the game,” says Alejandra Barnard, the Las Vegas resident behind the @GolfMami_ Instagram account with more than 200,000 followers across all her social media channels. “What golf has brought into my life has been so positive in so many ways and I am so thankful to this game. I have only been playing golf for 11 years and it brings me so much joy. I am also so appreciative to be able to reach other people and give them something that motivates and encourages them by seeing my story.”
By viewing her solely through the lens of the glamourous Golf Mami social media, it would seem Barnard has enjoyed a life of luxury and not much challenge. The story runs deeper when the layers are peeled back.
“People get the wrong idea about me and assume that I lived this fabulous life because they see me through my posts playing golf at these amazing golf courses and country clubs,” says The Golf Mami, a Red Rock Country Club member. “Most people don’t know where I really come from and don’t realize I was an immigrant. I came to the U.S. when I was three years old. My family and I were very poor. When we came to America, we slept in a shed, all five of us, with one bed. I come from a very humble background. I feel like golf is my American dream.”
THE Golf Mami is sharing her story in yet another beautiful setting, the clubhouse at Red Rock Country Club, her home course. She speaks with humility and candor, two attributes maybe not always associated with social media stars.
A main “Mami” mission is to give back and grow the game. She does that through social media, and come December 2023, through her new Golf Proformance Institute facility. The sports club will bring together training, relaxation, and “proformance” in a variety of ways.
“I have been able to accomplish a lot of things that, to me, feel like the American dream and so much of it is because of golf,” Mami says. “Going forward, my goal is to encourage others, especially women, to understand that they belong on the golf course and that they can also become very good at golf. It doesn’t matter what age, your condition or your background. This is a game that can feel like it is exclusive, but it is not. I think we need to remove that from people’s minds and do a better job making people feel welcome when they attempt to take up golf.”
Mami, 41, started playing golf at age 30. She took lessons at Southern Highlands from longtime PGA of America professional Jim Delaney. He lit a golf spark that turned into an inferno.
“I always thank Jim for being such a great instructor because he didn’t discourage me and he supported me,” Mami says. “I developed a deep sense of respect and love for the game because of how he taught and helped me. To this day, that is something that is very important to me and is a foundation of everything I do. I think people follow me because they see the amount of effort that I put into my golf swing and into playing golf. I could always have a lot more followers if I did some more sexy things, but I want to stay respectful to the game. I have a lot of respect for the game as far as the positives it can bring into a person’s life. In my posts, I respect the dress code and the golf etiquette because that is very important to me.”
She also appreciates the cerebral nature of the sport.
“The part of the game that I really love is the fact that it is not just a game where you just hit a golf ball and hope you hit it in the fairway,” Mami says. “It is a thinking game. There are a lot of thoughts that go into a shot before you hit the shot. A lot of people don’t realize that. “
After playing golf for just seven years—and grinding on the range and short game areas—Mami became a scratch golfer. It was through repetition and determination. Another goal was to beat the guys and she began to do so, even while playing from the “men’s tees.”
“What I figured out pretty early on was that golf is a repetitive sport,” Mami says. “Good players repeat the same golf swing, the same putting stroke, the same chipping motion. I realized that if I practiced the same routine over and over, I could get good at it. When I went to the practice range, I was doing drills. I would do the same repetition of the swing takeaway to just about two or three feet, over and over. Very rarely do you see me on the range hitting balls endlessly and without purpose.”
Her social media presence grew along with her skills on the course. The evolution continues with the opening of the Golf Proformance Institute. The 5,600 square-foot facility will be in Summerlin.
“This is another American dream come true for me,” says Mami, who suffers from a chronic bone condition and plays golf while in pain. The condition was one of the inspirations behind the new project. “This will be an inclusive club, while offering exclusive membership options, and everyone, male or female, is welcome. The decor will have a very welcoming vibe and spa feel, and will cater to men and women from any skill level. A highlight will be a women’s pro shop and seven state-of-the-art golf simulators. We will offer physical therapy, chiropractic work, massage, performance recovery, golf instruction, group classes focusing on yoga, stretching, strength and conditioning for golfers, three infrared saunas, bar and lounge, fitness zone, men’s and women’s showers, and everything that a golfer needs to get the most out of his or her game and health.”
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Golf Mami 3.0 has arrived.
“The overall message I want to share is that if there is any woman or man who is fearful of trying golf, to remember, that if I can do it, so can they,” Mami says. “I have children, I have a husband, I am building a business. There is always time that we can give ourselves to try something new and you can find ways to practice without going to the course by doing simple drills. Practicing for 10 or 15 minutes a day in your living room can add up to something big.”
It sure did for Alejandra Barnard, THE @GolfMami_ and entrepreneur.
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