In January of 2017, Harley Richardson picked up a golf club for the first time when she went out for the Socorro High School golf team.
“I don’t know what possessed me to come out here, but I’m so glad that I did,” Richardson said. “It has become what I do. It’s my life. I’m so grateful for golf in so many ways.”
On Nov. 24, she signed her National Letter of Intent to play golf at California State University at Monterey Bay, which is a Division II school.
“I think signing for any school is just so surreal, but the fact that I’m signing for a Division II school that is my dream school, I have no words,” she said. “I’m so happy. I couldn’t have made a better choice.”
When Richardson began looking at colleges to attend, her main goal was to find one with a highly rated Marine Biology and Oceanology program. Monterey Bay is in the top 10 for that program. Richardson said she has always been interested in the ocean and helping marine animals.
“Marine biology is just perfect for me,” she said. “I would be a mermaid if I could so marine biology encompasses all the things I love. I can’t wait to go get started on that.”
Once she starts at Monterey Bay, she said her plan is to be at the ocean every day. The golf head coach, Jim Ragan, was another big factor in choosing to attend Monterey Bay.
“He is absolutely incredible,” Richardson said. “He has coached at so many amazing schools. He is a lot like my coach now where he really takes what is unique about you and turns it into something even more amazing.”
She said she is very excited to work with the women on the team and get to know who they are on and off the golf course.
“The whole atmosphere of the team there, it’s just a family,” she said. “When I go there, I will have five or six new sisters. That is really what I want. Obviously, it’s going to be a competition between us, but afterwards we can go have pizza and watch a movie. That is what I really like about it.”
When Richardson started playing golf in 2017, she had no idea she would end up playing in college. Besides golf, she played a magnitude of other sports throughout high school. The main reason she stuck with golf originally was because of coach Russ Moore.
“He has been so supportive and he is just amazing,” Richardson said. “He’s helped me from the beginning with getting all of the fundamentals down and finding schools that would work. He’s just incredible.”
During her high school golf career, her career high was 147 and her career low is 69. During her first year on the golf team, Richardson’s personal best was 121 shots for 18 holes. She qualified for the two tournaments that everyone played in that season. After the season ended, she didn’t pick up a golf club until the 2018 season started.
In 2018, she qualified for all of the tournaments and placed fifth at Great 8 and at the district tournament. Richardson lowered her personal best to 94 and made the All-District team. She then set goals for herself as she wanted to break 90 in 2019, 80 in 2020 and hit par in 2021.
During the summer of 2018, Richardson played with the Sun County Junior Golf tour for the first time. She played in 19 tournaments and averaged 94.3 shots per round. She was named the Player of the Year for the 13-15-year-old division.
The high school season then started up in 2019 where Richardson qualified in each tournament as the No. 1 player for Socorro High School. Her personal best that season was 79 and she was selected to the second All-District team and the third All-State team. R
ichardson continued to play for the SCJT for the summer in 2019. She played in all 18 tournaments with an average of 84.8 shots. She was also named Player of the Year for the 16-18-year-old division.
During the 2020 school year, Richardson took first place in the only tournament they were allowed to play in before the coronavirus shut down high school sports. Over the summer, she continued to play with SCJT where Richardson averaged 77.76 shots per round in the 14 tournaments she participated in.
Richardson said that playing in many golf tournaments over the summer greatly helped her improve her play.
“It’s been tiring, but I’m glad I did because it helped me get to where I am today,” she said. “I have met so many amazing golfers and friends that I will have for the rest of my life. It’s tiring, but worth it.”