For 3-year-old Scarlett Schremmer, the decision was easy. Follow big sisters Mason and Lola – six and five years her senior, respectively – to the ocean and surfing paradise. When their parents moved to Hawaii from Florida in 2010, they were told to take up a sporting activity. With mom, Patricia, being a former professional golfer, it would have been easy to head to the course, but the Schremmer girls chose a different path.
Surfing would become their “happy” place, and on Oahu, home to some of the world’s best waves, it turned into a passion.
“It’s surreal,” said Scarlett, who became a three-time under-18 national shortboard (SUP) champion within five years of taking up the sport. “You have to use your imagination like you do in golf. You go with the flow. [You] take what Mother Nature is giving you. It’s hard to explain but it’s probably one of the best feelings.”
Except young Scarlett didn’t follow her older siblings into the professional world of surfing. When the family moved to a house in Ewa Beach from Honolulu, which was located by the 14th green of Hoakalei Country Club, Schremmer suddenly took an interest in a game that had defined her mom before getting married and starting a family. She found clubs and began hitting balls on the adjacent course.
Within a couple of years, Scarlett ditched the board for a golf bag and was regularly breaking 80, and on June 8 at Goose Pond Colony Resort in Scottsboro, Ala., the 16-year-old from Birmingham, Ala. (they moved from Hawaii in 2018) carded a 68 to share medalist honors and earn a spot in the 74th U.S. Girls’ Junior at the U.S. Air Force Academy Eisenhower Golf Club’s Blue Course. It will be her first USGA championship.
“Scarlett is a much better athlete than I could have ever dreamed of being,” said Patricia Ehrhart (she now goes by her maiden name following a divorce), who was the low amateur in last year’s U.S. Senior Women’s Open and has twice been a semifinalist in USGA amateur competitions (2016 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur and the 2019 U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur). “Physically, she hits it so much better than I ever could.”
Patricia tried her best to get all three daughters into golf. None of them gravitated to it. Mom definitely didn’t understand surfing, having grown up in central Illinois where the closest thing to a wave would be someone splashing in a backyard pool.
To her girls, though, surfing was much more exhilarating. Mason, now 22, lives in Queensland, Australia and competes on the World Surf League. Lola, 21 and living in Newport Beach, Calif., has given up on her professional surfing dreams and is headed to the University of Illinois-Chicago in January with aspirations of going to law school.
Scarlett, meanwhile, is hoping to follow in mom’s footsteps as a pro golfer. Patricia, the 1986 Illinois Women’s Amateur champion who played collegiately at the University of South Florida, topped the 1996 Duramed Futures Tour (now Epson Tour) money list to earn LPGA Tour status for 1997, the year she got married. Then she sunk a 20-foot birdie putt on the final day of Q-School to retain her card for the 1998 season, before bouncing around Europe and Asia until calling it quits in 2006 to raise her family.
On the day before she turned 10, the LPGA Tour was the farthest thing from Scarlett’s mind when she ventured out to Sunset Beach with her coach Kahea Clark. Tears were flowing as were her nerves. The waves were topping out at 30 feet and here was this young, petrified girl about to meet some of the world’s most challenging swells. Clark kept pumping her up to the point where Scarlett overcame any trepidation. Such courage would become a powerful intangible years later in tournament golf.
“You can’t control anything but yourself,” said Scarlett, a statement that holds true in both surfing and golf.
A year later, Scarlett flew to New Mexico with her mom for the final USGA Women’s State Team Championship. Patricia captained the Hawaii team, while Scarlett befriended an up-and-coming talent from Delaware who would further whet her appetite for the game. Phoebe Brinker, then verbally committed to Duke University and the niece of past PGA of America president Suzy Whaley, chatted the young Hawaiian up during the practice rounds. One day after they returned home, Scarlett joined the First Tee and was soon competing in the PGA Junior League and U.S. Kids events.
One day, Patricia and Scarlett ventured to Waialae Country Club where family friend and sponsor Jimmy Buffett met them on the first tee. Buffett had befriended Patricia at a concert in the 1990s while she was competing on the Futures Tour. His tour just happened to coincide with a Futures Tour event in Wisconsin and tournament sponsors offered free tickets. Patricia and a few friends went on the eve of the event’s final round. Seeing a group of young golfers in the front row -- because of inclement weather, many people in the outside amphitheater left early, so the young professionals ventured down to better seats – Buffett had his security team bring them backstage. It led to a lifelong friendship between Ehrhart and Buffett, for both golf and surfing.
He helped Ehrhart financially on tour, and later sponsored the Margaritaville Surfing Team that comprised the Schremmer sisters. “He’s not a blood relative,” said Scarlett, “but he is like a father-figure to me. He loves surfing and he loves golf. He gets me through the tough times in golf, school or family stuff. When I failed my driver’s test six months ago, I called him because I was so stressed. He’s always had my back.”
The move from Hawaii to the Deep South five years ago was an eye-opener in more than one way for Scarlett. For starters, she had to get used to approaching people with “Yes sir or Yes ma’am” instead of “auntie or uncle.” Secondly, there would be no post-round sushi. Raw fish was replaced by lots of sweet tea. But joining Shoal Creek, a private facility that has hosted numerous big events, including the 2018 U.S. Women’s Open and the 1984 and 1990 PGA Championships, has helped elevate Scarlett’s game. Being in the club’s development program, which includes world No. 1 amateur Gordon Sargent, provides inspiration. A growth spurt – Scarlett now stands 6 feet tall – hasn’t hurt either.
Once so excited when she outdrove mom by a few inches that she took a photo of the moment, Scarlett now regularly bombs it 40 yards past Patricia. She also caddied for mom at last year’s U.S. Senior Women’s Open, which gave her a chance to observe some of the game’s legends. She had a chance to talk with three-time U.S. Women’s Open champion Annika Sorenstam whose advice has proven to be invaluable.
“Every shot you pull off is an advantage for you,” Sorenstam told Schremmer. “It doesn’t matter what anyone else on the golf course is doing. But if you are going to be better than the golf course, that’s all that matters.”
Competing regularly against mom certainly does not hurt, either. When the two are on the golf course, all pleasantries are put aside. The competition is fierce. Scarlett finally came out on top two years ago, shooting a 71 at Shoal Creek.
“I’d be lying if I wasn’t nervous walking down 18 one [shot] down or tied with her because I hate losing just as much, if not more, than she does,” said Scarlett.
As much as Patricia loves competing – and she has found more joy since regaining her amateur status in 2014 – she loves watching the progress being made by her youngest daughter. She is impressed by how hard Scarlett, who is home-schooled, works at her craft. But as someone who excelled at the game’s highest levels, she knows the difficulty of the process. She advises but doesn’t hover.
Even when more than 50 Division I golf coaches left messages on June 15 – the first day they could contact players in the Class of 2025 – she let Scarlett relish the newfound attention. A bevvy of coaches will certainly be on-site at the U.S. Girls’ Junior, looking for the next great talent. Scarlett has “three or four” schools in mind but will let the process play out. For her, there is no need to rush this major decision.
Earlier this summer, when Schremmer went wire-to-wire to claim the 60th Alabama Girls State Junior with a 12-under total of 204, she refocused for her U.S. Girls’ Junior qualifier the next day at the same venue, where a birdie on the fourth playoff hole got her into the field. This past week, she advanced to the semifinals of the Alabama Women’s Amateur.
The results are in! After a playoff among three players tied at 68 (-4), Molly Brown Davidson of Springville earned medalist honors at the U.S. Girls’ Junior Sectional Qualifying in Scottsboro. Scarlett Schremmer of Birmingham secured the second qualifying position. 🏅 pic.twitter.com/tBEbxh6Tv3— Alabama Golf Association (@bamagolf) June 8, 2023
Physically, her game is in good shape, especially the ball striking. But mentally, she sometimes struggles with patience. Trying to slow herself down and taking deep breaths in tight situations is still a work in progress. That all comes with experience.
In Colorado, she’ll play practice rounds with two of the bigger names in junior golf: Anna Davis and Kiara Romero. Davis, just named to the 2023 USA Women’s World Amateur Team and headed to Auburn in 2024, won the 2022 Augusta National Women’s Amateur and has competed in a pair of U.S. Women’s Opens. Romero knocked out stroke-play medalist Saki Baba in the Round of 32 of last year’s U.S. Girls’ Junior and is headed to Oregon. Baba won the U.S. Women’s Amateur a few weeks later.
Surfing has taught Schremmer about ups and downs. Every person who has jumped on a board has experienced thrills and spills. Same thing for golfers.
This week, Schremmer is hoping to catch the perfect wave.
David Shefter is a senior staff writer for the USGA. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.