In this episode, Sophia and Caroline bring on Swiss professional golfer Christina Gloor to talk about her sports background growing up, her journey to play golf at the University of Cincinnati, the importance of finding sponsors, and more! A full transcript of this episode can be found below!
You can keep up with Christina on Instagram by clicking here!
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C: [00:00:01] Hi, everyone, and welcome to Episode three of Forward Progress. I’m Caroline.
S: [00:00:04] And I’m Sophia.
C: [00:00:06] This week, we want to kick off the episode with a new segment that we like to call, “Ya Love to see it.” So let’s get started.
BOTH: [00:00:16] This is Forward Progress.
C: [00:00:20] Michael Jordan announced that he’s joining drivers Bubba Wallace and Denny Hamlin to field a single car NASCAR team starting in the 2021 season. Jordan is the first black majority owner of a full time racing team in the NASCAR series since legendary driver Wendell Scott. You love to see it.
S: [00:00:39] Ya love to see it.
C: [00:00:40] The French Open is in full swing and history has already been made. Mayar Sherif is the first Egyptian to reach the main draw of the French Open and the first Egyptian tennis player to qualify for the 2021 Olympics. Meanwhile, Ons Jabeur became the first Arab woman to reach the fourth round of singles at Roland Garros. You love to see it,
S: [00:01:01] Nikki Washington becomes the first black woman coach in the NWSL. She coaches for Utah Royals FC. You love to see it. When the Browns played the Washington football team this past weekend, coaches Callie Brownson and Jen King, referee Sarah Thomas, and legendary reporter Laura Okmin were all on the field. It marks the first time that women were in all four roles. You love to see it.
C: [00:01:28] And now onto this week’s guest. I met this guest while working at a golf tournament in Valencia, Spain. She asked if I was from Ohio because I had that good old Midwestern accent that she had grown to love during her four years at the University of Cincinnati. Somehow it had seemed like we were old friends. Since graduating from Cincinnati in 2018, she has competed on the world stage for her home country of Switzerland and has turned pro. We love to welcome Christina Gloor to the podcast.
C: [00:01:59] Thank you so much, Christina, for being with us today.
Gloor: [00:02:02] My pleasure. Looking forward.
C: [00:02:04] So where are you right now?
Gloor: [00:02:06] Right now, I’m back home in Switzerland. It’s like a little farmers village just outside of Bern, which is the capital city of Switzerland.
C: [00:02:15] In your region of Switzerland. What language do you speak?
Gloor: [00:02:18] We speak Swiss, German. It’s kind of a dialect of German, but we understand the Germans, but the Germans don’t understand us. (laughter)
C: [00:02:25] Oh that’s interesting, OK, Do you know French as well?
Gloor: [00:02:30] Yeah, I speak a couple more languages actually in my high school, all in French. So I’m fluent in French as well. So I could have the whole conversation in French if you want.
C: [00:02:40] And we don’t know French, Spanish, but not French.
Gloor: [00:02:45] Yeah, no, my Spanish is a bit rough. I had it in high school like a couple of courses, but if you don’t practice it then you basically lose all the vocabulary. So that’s basically non-existent for me.
C: [00:02:56] Ok. All right. So let’s just go right into your sporting background. What kind of sports were you involved in growing up as a kid?
Gloor: [00:03:05] So basically, I started off with horseback riding when I was a young kid. Then it was basically the question like how I want to continue? And then the question came up, well, do you want to have a horse? So it was like, yeah, of course I want to. But that wasn’t really like.
C: [00:03:21] Every little kid wants a pony. Come on.
Gloor: [00:03:23] Yeah, exactly. But like, my parents are like, no, maybe you look for another sport to get involved in. And my grandfather, he was playing golf and I was like, I don’t know, I really like basketball, but I’m not, That’s all. I’m like only five, six. So my parents are like, I’m not sure that’s the right sport for you. And in Switzerland, we don’t really have it. So then a couple miles from my home, like a golf course opened up and they’re like, how about playing some golf or get involved in golf? And I was like, I mean, I can try and maybe I can go play with my grandfather a bit. And that’s basically how it started back in 2003. So a few years ago.
C: [00:03:59] What would you say is the biggest or most popular sport in Switzerland?
Gloor: [00:04:05] Probably soccer and skiing and ice hockey, probably the three.
C: [00:04:10] That makes sense. Yeah, all the mountains.
Gloor: [00:04:14] Yeah exactly I know right! Winter sports is huge here.
C: [00:04:16] Do you ski or anything?
Gloor: [00:04:18] I do, but I stopped for a bit because I fell pretty badly on my shoulder one winter. And then it was the question, well, I’m not sure if you can, like, play next season. And I was like, well, that’s it for me. And then I stopped skiing. And then a couple of years ago, actually, because my roommate, she was from France and she always went on vacation in Switzerland to go skiing. So I was like, that’s kind of dumb. Did you go on vacation? So to go skiing and I’m not going to join you. So then that’s basically what I started back up. T
C: [00:04:48] That’s really cool.
S: [00:04:50] Was that your only major injury or have you had others?
Gloor: [00:04:54] Yeah I was never injured actually. I mean, I had an injury like 20 winters ago, so in winter 2018 where I had an infection in my thumb around like the skin that’s around the bone and so I couldn’t play for like two months. Which I know is complaining on like high level, but yeah it was pretty awful not to play. It was right at the beginning of my professional career. So I was like, why now? But yeah, otherwise never been injured.
C: [00:05:20] Ok, so growing up, were there any golfers or athletes that you looked up to? Were You are a big fan of any particular sports or teams?
Gloor: [00:05:31] I mean, I had like several but not necessarily golfers. One of them was Roger Federer.
C: [00:05:37] Yes!
Gloor: [00:05:38] How could it be? Right answer for you as a tennis player as well.
C: [00:05:42] How could you be Swiss and not be a fan of Roger Federer? Come on.
Gloor: [00:05:47] I just really love how he’s down to earth and like, you know, I feel like he’s very approachable in a way, or at least comes across like that and very natural. And I feel like those are such like unique characteristics that I think is great to have, especially like if you’re so famous and has won so many titles to still be able to say, hey, you know, it doesn’t make me a different person. So that’s one thing. And then we had a very good figure skater who also came in second at the Olympics and won a world title. And I was like a big groupie. I was like a little teenager and kind of him as well, because I’m like, you know, he was always fighting and was so passionate about what he was doing. And then for golfers, I would say I had more like several people, depending on, like short game or a long game, but not really one person could be like, yeah, I want to be like him. No I want to be like everybody on tour. It’s great.
S: [00:06:46] So what kind of competitor are you when you’re out on the green? Are you a lot more maybe aggressive or are you like a quieter player?
Gloor: [00:06:55] I would say I’m a very passionate player. Which sometimes can be good, especially like when you are in a position where you have to fight. I’m going to give it my all, but sometimes it’s like I wish I could be a little bit more like unemotional, if you can say that, because sometimes I get carried away. OK, let’s go. Instead of just sometimes in golf, I feel like if you give one hundred percent on the course, it’s like too much like other sports is always like especially in college, I heard it, So I’ll give it 110 percent if you give 110 percent because in golf you’re going to get 60 out of it basically. And it’s better if you give it constant 80, you know, and that’s going to get you a lot further. So I feel like it’s one of my biggest strengths, but maybe also a bit of a weakness.
C: [00:07:39] That’s OK.
Gloor: [00:07:40] Exactly. Exactly.
C: [00:07:42] So how did you make the decision and when did you make the decision that you wanted to come over to the US to study at university and be a collegiate athlete?
Gloor: [00:07:54] Actually, that is like a super cool story, I find.
C: [00:07:57] Yay!
Gloor: [00:07:57] I know right. I got done with high school here in Switzerland and I did like kind of untraditional way of high school. I did three years of school and then one year of like internship. And I didn’t find one right after my three years of studying. So I had like a gap year and I saw my golf teacher and I was like discussing what I’m going to do after I’ve done my internship. And I was like, well, I want to turn pro. And he’s like, yeah, I mean, I think that’s a good idea, but I’m not sure if you’re ready yet. I think you need some more experience. How about you go study in the States and like, are you crazy? Like, do you even know me? I’m not like the huge study person. I’m like more like learning by doing. So, I was a bit afraid of going and studying and just like all theory, right. So I went online, did some research and I go on one of those websites where they have like a quiz if you have a chance to get athletic scholarship and you know, those girlie magazines where it’s like you’re type A, B or C. And so I did that and filled that all the questions. And then at the end it said, you’ll hear from us within two weeks. And that’s kind of strange. I want a result now, you know. And so I actually was on a website of college like recruiting agency that help European students get over to the states. And so basically they helped me set up all my profile and everything as they said that I have a good chance to get a scholarship. So, yeah, that’s basically how I went over to the States. And then for me, it was pretty clear once I started researching it a bit more, I was like, this is actually a cool idea, especially because you can combine sports and still get some studying done. I mean, it never hurts to have some more knowledge and have a degree. So, yeah.
C: [00:09:45] So how did you choose Cincinnati?
Gloor: [00:09:48] I had a couple offers. Then I picked my top five and then I flew over to the States with my mom and we did like round trip around the country, basically the East Coast.
C: [00:10:02] So you did get to visit!
Gloor: [00:10:03] Yeah, I went to visit and I really liked the team, the university and yeah, basically everything about Cincinnati the most. So it was like because I got there and that’s what I want to do and where I want to be.
C: [00:10:15] I know a lot of times international athletes don’t get to visit ahead of time.
Gloor: [00:10:20] My favorite university, I loved the coach there. I went to visit. I loved the university. It’s a nice one, but it was like a little small university in Georgia and it was like super Southern, which is nice, but like it was just not for me. And it was like so small. It was all girls college. And I was like, oh no. I went to it just because, like, they’re like very much into arts and I’m a more athletic person. So that’s why I chose Cincinnati, because I was like, oh, then you have football games and basketball games, like really feel like you live like athletic experience a lot more so.
S: [00:10:54] When did you realize you were going to go pro was it at Cincinnati or was it prior to that? And just having aspirations.
Gloor: [00:11:01] No, actually it was basically two years after I started playing golf when I was like a twelve year old, I was like, I want to get to the Olympics one day. So even though it wasn’t even Olympic at that time, but I didn’t care. I was like, I’m going to go pro so for me it was pretty clear from the beginning
S: [00:11:18] Wow wait, you had aspirations of doing something that didn’t even exist. They didn’t even have a golf in the Olympics when you were dreaming?
Gloor: [00:11:25] No, not at that time. They had it way back when I think beginning of like the 1900s afterwards they stopped having it and I think 2016.
C: [00:11:36] I think Rio was the first one back
Gloor: [00:11:37] The first one back. I always wanted to go to the 2012 ones in London because there was a possibility because you know, each country can choose some sports that are non Olympic, but because they’re the host country, they can choose to have it in the Olympics. So I thought, oh, maybe because England and golf, maybe that’s going to be in. But it wasn’t a question afterwards because I wasn’t ready, but still can work for something, so.
C: [00:12:04] Yeah, you have to have some goals. So is the Olympics still your ultimate goal or what would you say?
Gloor: [00:12:11] Yeah, for sure. I would say like ultimate goal. But as I always dreamed of going to the Olympics, I certainly am working towards that whether it’s going to be 2024 or 2028.
C: [00:12:23] But you have represented Switzerland before on the world stage.
Gloor: [00:12:27] I didn’t play too many events for like Switzerland, but there was one which I think was the nicest and biggest event was the called the Universiade. It’s basically like an Olympic that just for university students or college students. And that was in 2017 in Taiwan and it was amazing. Still gives me goose bumps, like it’s such a cool experience I had. It was also like a village, almost like Olympic Village with entries in the opening ceremony and everything. So it was great.
S: [00:13:00] Did you have to qualify for something like that or was it a team score?
Gloor: [00:13:04] It was a team score. Obviously, I had to write like a biography. Why I want to compete in that event and why I think I’m good enough and everything. And then they had a selection and actually I could only go because one of the players got injured. So I went in like last minute. I got the phone call on a Monday and then Thursday I had to fly out and I had to call my college coach was like “Hey! Actually I’m coming two weeks later to school if that’s okay.” and she was like “no go for it. That’s awesome.”
S: [00:13:32] You’re like “Actually, I have a pit stop. It’s in Taiwan.”
Gloor: [00:13:36] On the other side of the world, but don’t mind.
S: [00:13:39] Did you play well?
Gloor: [00:13:40] Yeah, actually, I finished like I was the I think second best European and the best Swiss player, so it was perfect.
C: [00:13:46] Woohoo
Gloor: [00:13:47] Yeah, I know. And everybody was like, “oh, it was such a surprise.” I’m like, oh…
C: [00:13:51] Oh wow. Hahaha omg that’s kind of rude!
S: [00:13:53] Yeah. You were ready for it. You weren’t surprised at all.
Gloor: [00:13:59] Exactly because I never, I never got a chance before to represent Switzerland and I always knew, like I’m going to be ready, you know, that was just kind of waiting for my opportunity. And there I had it. I think I finished sixteen, which is pretty good for your first big international events.
C: [00:14:16] Yeah, of course. Oh, my gosh. You know what? Even last place is fine. Anything better the last place. Amazing.
S: [00:14:23] What contributed to your mindset? Because obviously you’re very ambitious. You set goals to be in the Olympics when I didn’t exist. And then you go to Taiwan. And I think most players, especially because you were university age, might be anxious or you might be nervous going in to a place that you hadn’t been or to a tournament where no one was expecting you to do anything. But you seem to thrive in those moments of no one’s expecting me to be great, but I expect me to be great. Where do you think that comes from?
Gloor: [00:14:51] I think a lot comes from my coach that because I’ve been working with him since I was 12 years old, so he’s basically like a second father for me and he’s always like he’s from England. So he’s like very straightforward and tells you exactly how it is. And and I think he has done a lot. We worked a lot on my mindset on a golf course. But then also he was like, Cristina, you don’t have to prove anything. Everybody thinks anyway that you’re like probably the one that’s not going to perform because you always had three girls and two scores will count. And so basically you don’t have to lose anything. And I was like, OK, well, I can just go there and enjoy it. And I was actually soaking up the environment so much and they gave me so much energy and positive vibes, if you can say like that, you know, that was like, OK, this is awesome, let’s do it.
S: [00:15:42] I love that.
C: [00:15:44] Now you are pro. When did you decide? I mean, you graduated school and then were you immediately thinking, OK, I’m going to go join a pro tour or how did that decision come about?
Gloor: [00:15:57] Yeah, so I graduated in May 2018 and then the latest European tour usually has the qualifying school end of the year, like October through like December. And I was like, well, I always wanted to go pro. So while wait, you know, and I knew that I didn’t want to continue playing as an amateur because at the end of the day, I want to earn some money as well. So I was like, let’s do it. So I enrolled for school and then in my first attempt made it to final stage. So then afterwards I was like, OK, let’s turn pro. And then I turned pro. For me, it was clear and I think the time was ready to to turn pro. I had like quite a few conversations with my coach, but he was like, no, you’re already like you need to do it, because he always told me you start playing golf and then you work your way up. You’re going to be a good amateur. And then you basically fall down the ladder again and start from the bottom as a pro again, not because you’re not good, because you lack experience and now nobody organizes your travels like you planes or hotels or nobody covers your costs. Like it’s all that organizational like Factor that comes in before. You could always say, OK, coach, gonna to take care of it. So it’s a lot to get adjusted to. So he was like, I think the earlier you start, the better it is.
C: [00:17:22] I know 2020 has been quite a different year, but what does a typical calendar look like for you playing on a pro tour.
Gloor: [00:17:32] So I just turned pro last year, so I can’t really say what is perfectly going to be like because I don’t have enough sponsors, I still work. And then last year I worked way too much stuff for me. Going into 2020. I was like, OK, I’m going to play more tournaments. So I actually started off in South Africa between January and March. So I think that’s going to be on my schedule also in the upcoming years, because in Switzerland, as we have snow in winter, it’s a bit hard to practice and get this on course practice in, you know, and when you practice outside, it’s maybe for an hour, max, because it’s just going to be freezing otherwise. But otherwise, it’s basically end of March through the end of October where you’re going to be at tournaments most of the time, then the other couple months kind of have like off season and be home and work on your game. But it’s a lot of weeks on the road. Basically till mid-March. I got home to 16th of March and from January 1st, I was home for two days and the rest I was all on the road. So I like all the time on the road. But I feel like you find family or make friends and then they become family. And so it’s not that bad being away.
C: [00:18:46] Do you ever stay at people’s houses like people who belong to the club that you’re playing at? Are they host families for you or is it hotels or is it a mix?
Gloor: [00:18:58] Yeah, for me, usually it’s a mix. Like I try to stay at host families whenever I can because usually you don’t pay. Right. It’s a lot. So it’s a lot cheaper. Exactly. But for me, sometimes it’s a mix, sometimes it’s also more convenient to just go to your hotel room and close the door and not have to worry about like socializing, which is not a problem. I mean, you’re staying at those people’s houses that they open up, which is super kind. But sometimes you just need a week where you’re just in your room, watching some Netflix and don’t have to worry about socializing.
C: [00:19:32] So you mentioned sponsors. So, yeah, I’ve met some people who are on tours and the importance of sponsorships for them. You said that last year you didn’t have a lot of sponsors. So how have you been trying to accumulate sponsors or how vital are they to being a professional athlete?
Gloor: [00:19:52] I think they’re super to be a professional athlete, especially as we all know, like women don’t earn as much as guys. If a guy makes the cut and plays the final two days, he’s going to earn some money. But with the girls, like if you make two hundred fifty dollars and then it’s going to be taxed on it as well. So you maybe end up with one hundred and ninety dollars, that is not much. So you are actually very in need of sponsors. What I did, I do have somebody from my golf club that was a professional beach volleyball player and she offered me to help because she does know in what situation I’m in. So we started writing to a lot of companies whether they would be interested. Most of the time the difficulty is to get money sponsors because it’s easier to say somebody “uh I’m give you some equipment”, which is also very important. But but you can’t pay tournament expenses with it. Exactly. And so I started writing to them. And then also, I think through playing last year, a lot more people actually know what I’m doing. So it’s a lot about having a big network as well, or have people that then afterwards talk to their connections about what you’re doing. So it’s like a bit of a rat’s tail. So you need to like, say a lot of the times, like, you know, I’m doing this and playing on tour. It’s very expensive and sometimes I feel a bit bad because I don’t want to whinge about like, oh my goodness, it’s so expensive because I actually have, like, the best job ever. But on the other hand, like I mean, a season on tour, easily costs between 70 and 80 thousand dollars a year. So that’s just expenses. You know, you have to lift off of it on your off weeks, basically. And then the thing in Switzerland is it’s like a whole different mentality. You know, when I was in the states, like, I love the positivity that you guys have, because if I tell you I’m a professional golfer, you’re like Awesome go for it like yay, and then Swiss people will be like, yeah, but how are you going to pay your bills? Can you live off of it? Are you making enough money? OK, give me a chance! How many years are you going to give yourself? It’s like then I always bring like the example. I’m like, if you start off your own company, are you going to make a revenue in the first two years? It’s very unlikely. Like if you do awesome, I’m happy for you, but it’s very unlikely. So you kind of have to tell them it’s the same when you’re a professional athlete, you know. So, yeah, but for me, I think you always have to be on the lookout. If you play like pro-ams or play around with somebody at your golf course, you always have to like talk about yourself and make them aware that you are looking for somebody. Maybe they have a connection so you don’t miss out on on a potential opportunity.
S: [00:22:42] Yeah. You’re constantly marketing yourself.
Gloor: [00:22:45] Yeah. Exactly that’s the right word.
S: [00:22:46] And you feel like you have to be. Yeah. You have to be the best version of yourself because you never know who’s watching you
C: [00:22:51] That’s where that Roger Federer, charismatic self comes in.
S: [00:22:56] You know, you said it great, I have the best job in the world. I feel that way too. I have the best job in the world. I just also want to be able to eat.
Gloor: [00:23:04] Yeah exactly
S: [00:23:04] So I want to be able to pay my bills and have a life.
Gloor: [00:23:07] Exactly.
[00:23:08] To come home to.
Gloor: [00:23:10] Yeah. And because, you know, some people are like, oh, I hate Monday mornings. I am so excited for Monday mornings. I’m like, OK, let’s get this week going. I’m so excited. Let’s go work out. Where should I start first, have my little planner, write it down, mark it with my sharpies. It’s like perfect and then everybody else. is like “I hate Mondays” and I’m like, how can you live like that?
C: [00:23:32] That’s a great mentality.
S: [00:23:33] They’re the same people saying how are you going to afford your dream.
Gloor: [00:23:37] Exactly. But those are people that are miserable in their jobs, I feel like. Yeah, obviously it’s a privilege if you can do what you really love doing because not everybody can do it. But on the other hand, I feel like you need to have something in your life that gives you enough joy to be motivated to get up in the morning.
S: [00:23:54] Yeah, you have to have that thing that drives you through the most difficult moments, through the best moments like you can’t get up because you’re making a bunch of money doing it. It’s the intrinsic motivation that’s going to be the reason you do golf for nothing.
Gloor: [00:24:08] Yeah exactly
[00:24:09] So when you do golf and you’re making a lot of money and Sharpie, you know sponsors you or whatever, because you did bring up sharpies with the planners.
Gloor: [00:24:18] Yeah, I know.
S: [00:24:19] Like whoever listen, you’ll take it from wherever. We just want to play kind of thing.
C: [00:24:24] Yeah you’re right. You need something to sign all those autographs. Let’s get a sponsorship with Sharpie.
Gloor: [00:24:27] Hey Sharpie! Let’s sponsor me
S: [00:24:29] Any person that we’re going to have on this, we’re going to ask them the same questions.
Gloor: [00:24:34] Ok.
C: [00:24:35] What is a sport or event that you wish you saw more of growing up?
Gloor: [00:24:40] I would say just more female sports events in general. There’s not enough.
S: [00:24:45] I want to see you on TV.
Gloor: [00:24:46] You will one day!
S: [00:24:49] If you had seen more women on TV as a kid growing up, and if you had seen an equivalent to Roger Federer that maybe looked like you or look similar to you, what do you think that would have done for your career or your trajectory?
Gloor: [00:25:03] I think it would have given me a bit more self-confidence in the way that sometimes, you know, you feel like out of place. Am I good enough? Always those kind of question that doubt yourself. And I feel like if you’ve seen other women that are good but never been on television that much, especially in Switzerland, you know, I feel like that would have helped me have a little bit more of a secure marketing of myself, you know, that I would step up and be like, no, I’m I’m good. Like, I’m here and I want this from you. You know, you can help me and I can help you and feel a bit more self-confident in that way.
S: [00:25:37] I’m so excited that you’re talking with us because I think there’s going to be somebody that listens to this that goes I’m going to follow her. And the next time she posts that she’s on tour, I’m going to try to look for it. You know, if I can’t find it, I’m going to press people that I can’t find it or when I do find it, I’m going to be stoked because I know a little bit more about her, whereas we kind of know Roger Federer. We know know massive stars. But we want to make sure that your voice is heard because we think you’re awesome.
Gloor: [00:26:05] Oh, thank you so much. That’s great. Appreciate it.
C: [00:26:08] OK, final question. What is your ideal ice cream sandwich?
Gloor: [00:26:13] Oh my goodness. OK, it has to.
S: [00:26:16] I can’t believe this is a question that stumps you.
Gloor: [00:26:20] I don’t know if it even goes together, but I love peanut butter and I love salted caramel and some chocolate. So if it can be like something and maybe something crunchy in there I don’t know .
C: [00:26:30] So maybe like peanut butter cookies. With salted caramel ice cream. Chocolate drizzle.
Gloor: [00:26:38] Yeah.
C: [00:26:39] Swiss chocolate.
Gloor: [00:26:40] Oh my goodness it’s so good. Seriously it is so good. You need to give me your address. I’ll send some.
C: [00:26:46] Yeah? Oh my gosh. I had Swedish chocolate before and that was like oh so good
Gloor: [00:26:51] Girl, you haven’t even had the best one yet.
C: [00:26:56] Well thank you so much for coming on with us today. We have learned so much. We will surely keep following. You see what I’m doing this year into next year.
Gloor: [00:27:07] Thank you so much for the opportunity. I loved it. It was fun!
S: [00:27:10] Sweet! It should be fun.
C: [00:27:14] Forward Progress is produced by Caroline Mattise with a little help from Sophia Lewin.
S: [00:27:19] True.
C: [00:27:19] And is brought to you by Best Available Player. Find more podcasts, articles and video content related to sports and entertainment on bestavailableplayer.com. All the music in this podcast is by James Barrett, a good friend and an even better musician. Be sure to check him out on your favorite music streaming platform. And because we’re all about inclusivity and accessibility, each podcast of Forward Progress will be transcribed and available on bestavailableplayer.com.