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Hanson has opened new chapter in life

Tracy Hanson played on the LPGA Tour for more than 16 years, amassing almost $1.6 million from 1995-2010.

Tracy Hanson’s decision to retire from a successful 16-year career on the Ladies Professional Golf Association Tour wasn’t as difficult as some of those even vaguely familiar with her competitive drive might think.

“The last couple of years I’d simply been losing the passion and the desire to play and practice,” the 38-year-old Hanson explained during a phone interview from her father’s home in Post Falls earlier this week. “And the travel was getting a little old, too, being on the road nine months out of the year.”

So earlier this spring, on her own website, www.tracyhanson.com, the Coeur d’Alene native and former multisport standout at Lakeland High School in Rathdrum announced she was starting a “new season” in her life by stepping away from the LPGA Tour, where she accumulated almost $1.6 million in official earnings.

After playing in only one Tour event and missing the cut at the Corning Classic last year, Hanson, a devout Christian, made a trip to Egypt, Jordan and Israel. Upon returning, her mind was made up.

“I had visited there before,” she said of her inspirational overseas journey, “but when I came back this time, I didn’t want to play golf any more. The trip solidified my decision, because I felt no desire after that to pick up a golf club and play (competitively) again.”

Hanson, who was a four-year All-American at San Jose State University prior to joining the LPGA Tour in 1995, put together a remarkable resume as an amateur, wining the 1989 Women’s Western Junior Championship and the 1991 United States Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship. She also finished as low amateur in the 1991 U.S. Women’s Open, and was a member of the 1992 U.S. Curtis Cup Team.

Hanson never won an LPGA Tour event, but as a rookie she pocketed $124,527 and finished second to Pat Hurst in the Rolex Rookie of the Year race. The following year she made $175,895, and in 2001 she earned a career-high $249,978 and finished in a tie for second in the Asahi Ryokuken International Championship.

Her highest finish came in the 1998 Rainbow Foods LPGA Classic, where she finished second after losing to Hiromi Kobayashi on the first hole of a sudden-death playoff.

Since announcing her decision to leave the LPGA Tour this spring, Hanson has played in only two one-day pro-am charity events, and expects to play in just a couple of others later this year.

“I still like the game,” she said, “but if you’re not going to dedicate yourself to practicing and preparing, it’s not worth trying to compete.”

To help fill those hours she might normally devote to golf, Hanson has hired on to help at Neurocore, a company based in Grandville, Mich., that specializes in neuroscience and helps people understand brain functions so they can better deal with brain-related disorders ranging from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) to depression.

Hanson was introduced to Neurocore’s founder, Dr. Timothy G. Royer, while taking part in the company’s Peak Performance program designed to help athletes improve their games.

“I needed some help, personally, at the time just to deal with the stress and anxiety of Tour life,” Hanson said. “The program really helped me out, and I really believe in what they’re doing and their mission, so I’m just helping out wherever I can.

“I don’t know if it’s something I’ll continue down the road, but for now, it gives me a chance to work with a great group of people with a great desire to help people.”

Hanson splits time between her home in Florida, where Neurocore also has an office, and Michigan. Her recent trip to Idaho gave her a rare and precious opportunity to reconnect with family and friends. Then it was back on a plane and back to work – but not on a driving range.

“I’m really not,” Hanson said, when asked if she was surprised she was able to put her golf career behind her with so few regrets, “because I’ve always been a person who has seen the big picture of life, and I’ve always had plenty of interests outside of golf.

“I always felt like when I was ready to step away from it, I had other things I could apply myself to and find fulfillment in. And I have.”

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