English humorist P.G. Wodehouse once said that to learn a person’s true character, play golf with him (or her). The man makes a good point.
So, walk a fairway or two with Hope College golfer Britni Gielow, and you’ll quickly find a young woman possessing determination, positivity, honesty, and joy. Walk a full round with the accomplished junior, and you’ll also learn that another humorist’s doggerel on the sport is this time inaccurate. Golf, for Gielow, is not a good walk spoiled, thank you very much, Mark Twain. Golf, maddening though it can be, captivates Gielow, providing opportunities for her to compete and connect, socialize and succeed.
The same can be said for her academic pursuits, appropriately enough. Gielow is a management major and an Academic All-American too, with a 3.51 grade point average, and her goals and character in the classroom are congruent with the ones she displays on the course. She enjoys her classes for their challenges and clarity of purpose; she concentrates her ambitions toward a future in retail ownership; and, she paces each step of her educational journey with sincerity and truthfulness to herself and others.
“I guess you could say I’m a pretty driven person,” says Gielow, who transferred to Hope after a freshman year spent at Grand Valley State University. “I really don’t like failing because accomplishing a goal feels so good, either on the course or in class.
But when it does happen, if I do fail, I learn and remember what I need to work on for next time.”
College coaches and professors alike appreciate that kind of tenacity and maturity. Succeed; great. Fail; try to succeed again. Though it may seem that Gielow is single-minded in her quest for a low score or a high grade, she recognizes that resolutely striving toward a goal requires a good dose of interdependence and a close-knit family too. Her father, Eric, is her swing coach; brother, Brendan, is a golf pro, and mother, Renea, rarely misses a match.
“My love for the game drives me,” admits Gielow, “but my teammates, family, and the lifelong relationships I have made through playing golf are my favorite parts of why I play.”
“Britni is extremely tough without being testy,” says Stafford of his team captain. “She’s a great team leader because she leads by her actions and not just her words. She’s consistent, level-headed. She cares about communication and relationships. I could say a lot of good things about her all day. I’m really glad I have another year with Britni Gielow on my team.”
But this year, 2015-16, is at the center of attention for Stafford, Gielow, and the Flying Dutch. Four league rounds into the standings, with two more to go this weekend, Hope is holding onto first place by 21 strokes over Olivet College. Gielow has played her way to second place in the individual standings with one Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association jamboree title and an 81.0 stroke average, a viable spot from which she can earn All-MIAA honors for the second season in a row.
Not surprisingly, Gielow’s tough-but-not-testy trademark finds its way into the classroom too. She points to an entrepreneurial class offered by Hope’s Center for Faithful Leadership (CFL), under the direction of Dr. Steve VanderVeen, with giving her a real world assessment of owning a baby apparel boutique someday. A career as this kind of business owner seems the way to go for someone who confesses to loving shopping and children equally.
“I got to pitch my idea to potential customers and got feedback on my plans,” Gielow remembers. “I didn’t know how much work was needed to put into my business or what to do besides just buying a store and putting clothes in it. (This class) was so helpful in showing me all I need to do and what steps I need to complete.”
Steps to complete. Sounds like the perfect words for a young woman walking her way toward success on and off the course.