‘Getting to Know’ is a weekly Q&A feature at ufvcascades.ca where we fire a series of random questions at a Cascades athlete. Some of the questions are serious, others not so much. In the crosshairs this week is Hannah Dirksen, a second-year member of the UFV women’s golf team.
Last season, you played alongside veteran Cascades stars in Jen Woods, Kelley Dalzell and Natasha Mackenzie, who have since moved on. What’s it been like for you this year, stepping out of their shadow and being that No. 1 golfer on the UFV women’s team?
“It’s been good. It’s been a lot of pressure, I feel like, put onto me. The first week, I really felt that pressure. But after the second week with the win (at the KPU Invitational) and then coming in second (at last week’s Camosun Invitational), I feel like the pressure’s gone down. I had huge shoes to fill, but I feel like after working hard this summer, I really stepped up my game.”
I asked Cascades head coach Chris Bertram to give me a little bit of insight into your personality, and he told me that you have a bit of a temper on the golf course that scares him at times when things don’t go your way! Tell me a little bit about that.
“I have a very bad temper. I’m such a perfectionist – I always want to make sure I’m playing my best. And if I miss a two-foot or three-foot putt, it really bothers me, really gets in my head. I think, ‘OK, you’ve just lost it, you’re going downhill now.’
“I just want to be doing my best. Every good golfer is going to have a bad shot. But for me, I just think, ‘You ruined it for yourself!’ I bring myself down.”
Is that something you’re working on?
“Yeah, I’m working on it. I’ve got to think, ‘You’re going to have bad shots. Just make the next shot the best you can make it.’”
Have you ever snapped a club, or tossed it in a water hazard?
“No. I’m not like (Cascades men’s team members) Kaleb Fisher or Cody Stewart. That’s something more like Cody or Kaleb would do. I’ve seen it with my own eyes!”
Chris tells me that you’re a big fan of other sports like hockey and rugby. Winning the CCAA golf championship is obviously what you’re after right now in your career, but if you could win a trophy in any sport, what would it be?
“Any sport? I don’t know if it would be a trophy. I used to be a competitive figure skater, and that was always my dream growing up – skating at the Olympics, being the Canadian champion. That’s what I always thought I’d do. I never thought I’d end up golfing. I didn’t even know about golf until five years ago. But if it could be any sport, it would probably be an Olympic gold medal in figure skating.”
Tell me a little bit more about that – how did you transition from figure skating to golf? And has any part of your athletic mentality from figure skating transferred over?
“Definitely the athletic mentality, going into competition, it really helped me out. I know how I have to deal with things. And just that competitive side of sport – I really gained that from figure skating.
“I transitioned to golf because in figure skating I broke my back. I was off for a year and couldn’t really do any physical activity, not even run. It was either that, or go get back surgery. I did physiotherapy for a year.
“My older sister (Kailey), she had actually injured herself in a motocross accident . . . she ripped her ACL. We live right beside the golf course (Mission Golf & Country Club), so my mom said, ‘Hey, why don’t you go putt while your knee is healing?’ She did that (and ended up playing golf for UVic eventually).
“I hurt my back a year or two later, and my mom thought, ‘Why not do the same thing?’ I got into a sport that wasn’t so hard on the body like skating.”
You’ve got to tell me more about this broken back. How did it happen, and how old were you?
“I was 14. There were two things – I think I was born with a weakness in the spine, and then also, just from the repetitive falling (in figure skating) I got a stress fracture. They told me so many different things – ‘You herniated your back, you’ve got a stress fracture, you broke your back.’ I didn’t get a clear answer . . . I still don’t have a clear answer to this day. But I was 14, and they think I was born with a weakness in the spine. And from falling so much – I was doing so many jumps, I was skating six days a week. Just the repetition of falling on the ice really did it.
“I took the year off, tried to go back, and I just couldn’t do it anymore. I started to feel pain in my back again, so I just had to stop.
“It’s the same story for my sister – me and her did every sport growing up. She hurt herself in motocross, (transitioned to golf) and then two years later she got a scholarship to UVic and played there for a couple years.”
It’s a very inspirational and interesting road that you’ve traveled to get here. . . . Let’s take it a little lighter now. Who would you choose to join you in your dream golf foursome?
“Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler and Mark Wahlberg. I love Mark Wahlberg. Marky Mark . . . he’s just so handsome. And I’ve seen his golf swing, so that takes it up a notch.”
Who’s the most famous person in your cellphone contacts?
“I can only think of Brad Clapp (Cascades assistant coach and recent PGA Tour Canada winner). I’ll have to look at my phone . . . The most popular person would be Chris Bertram. Everybody knows Chris.”
Looking ahead to hosting the CCAA national championships (Oct. 13-16 at Chilliwack Golf Club), what do you anticipate that’s going to be like?
“I feel like the pressure’s going to be back on again for nationals. I really feel like I can do it – my game’s on a high right now.
“It’ll be different (hosting nationals), because we’re obviously not on the road and we have such a huge advantage playing at our home course. We’re out there almost every day, at Chilliwack … you’re not used to playing such a big competition on a home course. It feels like not as much pressure that way, and more like such an advantage – going out there to win because you know every inch of that golf course.”