Professional golfer and Phoenix native Cheyenne Woods has a busy 2017. The LPGA player (and yes, Tiger Woods’ niece) kicked off the year participating in a 16th/ 17th hole challenge at TPC Scottsdale with fellow professional golfer Ricky Barnes for an episode of "Breaking Par." (The 16th and 17th holes were combined to create one large par-4 hole, the challenge was to see who could play the unique setup better).
We were on set during the filming to chat about the episode, which aired mid-January, Woods’ plans for 2017, her favorite spots around Phoenix/Scottsdale and more.
What was your favorite part of this golf challenge, filmed for the show “Breaking Par”?
I think my favorite part was just the setup that they had. We had the most famous hole in golf basically—hole number 16—and we bombed our drive over the grandstand and played 17 from there. It was pretty fun. And to play alongside Ricky Barnes and to meet him for the first time, and to go back-and-forth talking about tour life and everything, it was just a fun morning overall.
What do you love about playing golf?
There are so many things that I love about it. I think it’s one of the most complex sports there is. There are so many different golf shots, and then the mental aspect of it, and I just love the on-course challenge and the mental challenge that you have with the game. And then also, [when] playing competitively, I love to travel. That’s one of my favorite parts that I’ve found the past few years playing on tour. I’ve played European Tour and now I’m playing the LPGA for two years. We go to some amazing places. And to be able to travel the world like that… I think is a treat. Also, to play all the golf courses! I love being able to experience different places and countries.
Where is your favorite place that you’ve been?
I always say that my favorite place is Morocco. I played there my first year on European Tour and I’ve been back there two more times and I just love the culture and the food. It’s just so different from anywhere I’ve ever been to.
Can you tell us a little about your upcoming tournament year?
We had our LPGA tour schedule released [at the end of 2016] and I start the year in the Bahamas. From there we’ll have a lot of domestic events here in the United States. I’m looking forward to [this year]. It will be my third year on tour.
Let’s talk Phoenix. You were born here and grew up here… do you have a favorite course that you play in the Valley?
There are so many great courses in Phoenix! I love desert golf so I love playing up in North Scottsdale. But growing up, I played ASU Karsten Golf Course a lot. And for some reason—I think it’s just because I grew up playing it, it’s fun, I have great memories being a kid—I love playing that course. So I would say either Karsten or one of the courses up in North Scottsdale like Troon or Grayhawk… all those courses up there. I just love the scenery. It’s just so peaceful to me to be out in the desert and play golf with the mountains in the background.
When you’re home and not playing golf, where do you like to go here in the Valley?
I go hiking a lot. I love hiking Camelback and Piestewa Peak mountains. And I’ve been trying to get up to Tom’s Thumb up in North Scottsdale to hike that. When I’m home, that’s something I love to do in the off time. I also love the Kierland area. There are so many great shops and restaurants. And then obviously also Old Town Scottsdale. So many great restaurants there too! Growing up in Phoenix, it’s just nice to be home and enjoy. I’m always finding new local spots too that I haven’t heard of.
Are there any courses anywhere in the world that you one day hope to play?
I would love to play St. Andrews in Scotland, just because of the history. I’ve been to St. Andrews, but I’ve never gotten a chance to play. And then also Augusta National, with the history there also and the Masters Tournament. I’ve been able to go to the Masters and watch, but I would love to be able to just tee it up and see what it actually feels like to play the golf course itself.
Do you have any favorite restaurants here locally?
That’s hard! I love so many of them. I love True Food Kitchen because it’s really healthy. That’s a go-to for me. The Mission in Scottsdale (Mexican food)—they have great tacos, guacamole and mimosas. I love going to Seasons 52 at Biltmore Fashion Park. Also, a lot of small, little restaurants too. I love Thai food. There’s a restaurant on Indian School called Thai E-San and it’s my favorite—they have the best Pad Thai I’ve ever had in my life.
You travel a lot… do you have any travel tips you can share?
I would say in terms of travel, be organized! I’m not organized, but I think it makes it a lot easier when you’re packed and you have the organization of your trip planned out… exactly what you’re going to do and the outfits. I always overpack! Also, [for the airplane], you have to make sure you stay hydrated. I always travel with a bunch of lip balms, lotions and hand sanitizer or wet wipes just because of germs, and staying moisturized when you’re up in the air—you never know what you’re going to need. And when you’re traveling internationally, you want to travel with something in case you eat something bad. I’ve had that happen! Also, travel with snacks—especially when you’re trying to be healthy. I travel with a baggie of lunch meat or fruit or trail mix because the worst thing is when you’re trying to live a healthy lifestyle and you’re traveling in the airport and it’s really hard to find a healthy meal. There are so many fast foods and everything is overpriced… so it’s nice to have some stuff in your carry-on that you can snack on while on the plane.
At least Phoenix has nice restaurants now.
Yes, they do! Definitely.
Anything on your to-do list for this year? Anything you want to accomplish for 2017?
I actually wrote out my goals. My personal goals and then my career goals. Some of my personal goals are here in Phoenix. I want to hike three new mountains, so Tom’s Thumb might be one, South Mountain, and I haven’t picked the third yet. Personal stuff like that… it’s just kind of opening my world to different things. Since golf is such a long season sometimes you get so consumed by it that you want to make sure that once you’re home you’re able to get away. I want to take a dance class with my mom. I grew up doing competition dance and so I would love to get back to that and also just be able to relax when I’m home. And then golf-wise, I want to be able to qualify for all five major championships and play in them. I’d also love to qualify for the Asian Swing at the end of the year, which would be, I believe, Top 60 on my list. I had one Top 10 this year, so I’d love to increase that to three to five Top 10s. I always try to assess my year once it’s winding down and try to make some goals for next year.