Social media and reality TV star Julia Rae has been transforming her golf swing in preparation for her role as fictitious golfer Babs Whatling in the upcoming film “Playing Through” that recently wrapped production in Sarasota, Fla. A singer, actress and model, Rae started playing golf at age seven but didn’t last long.
“I took lessons at my family’s country club, when my golf pro told my father I should really pursue it,” recalls the former Miss Philadelphia. “Much to my dad’s dismay, I had already fallen in love with singing, dancing and acting and my extracurricular activity calendar was full. A couple of years ago, I revisited golf because I knew playing it was a valuable business tool. I purchased clubs and played a few rounds, but didn’t commit enough mostly because I was so intimidated. I’m also a perfectionist, so when I wasn’t as good as I wanted to be right away, I threw in the towel. Once I was offered the role in this movie in February, however, I started taking lessons and practicing for hours every single day.”
In fact, she enlisted the help of PGA Professional and V1 Pro user Billy Stewart of the Leadbetter Academy at PGA National Resort and Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. Stewart, a V1 Pro user, says his main focus was to get Rae ready for filming and to get her swing looking good on camera. Being able to share videos over V1 Golf and V1 Pro’s mobile platforms was very useful in the process. “She has a baseline now for a good, repeatable swing motion and she can go back to the videos I sent to her locker in the V1 Golf app to help groove her motion. She can even send me new videos of her swing through the V1 Golf app. Her game will improve naturally,” says Stewart. “We worked on her learning how to use her lower body properly, and how to finish the swing by posing after each shot for a couple seconds to look good for filming. We’ve stayed in touch, via the V1 Golf app on her side and V1 Pro on mine, and if she needs any more help, she can send me swing videos via V1 Golf for analysis. She’s a natural athlete and has received swing instruction from other teachers, as well, to accomplish her goals for the upcoming movie.”
Rae wanted to get as good as possible at golf, before the cameras started rolling. She adds:
“I didn’t want to just look like I knew what I was doing, I wanted to respect the game. I explained that to Billy and from lesson one he broke down my swing mechanics using the V1 Golf app, and helped me understand the techniques I could use to level up. Now that I feel like I have a good foundation and I can always go back to the V1 Golf app and refer to Billy’s instructional voice-over video lessons and drills he created for me and sent to me right into the locker in the V1 Golf app, my goals have shifted to focusing on my short game.
I’m still very much learning the art of chipping. And for a while, I wasn’t shifting my weight properly during the swing — hyperextending my right leg in my backswing. Seeing that on camera was the only way I was able to correct it and once I felt the difference, I got so much more power in my swing. The V1 Golf app played a substantial role in working with Billy because, in the video in the live lessons and my swing videos Billy sent me through my V1 Golf app, I go back and see the progress I’m making or reference Billy’s voice-over tips to reinforce the right practice habits. I’m a model, actress and dancer — all visual mediums — and I’m a visual learner. Seeing my swing before and after side-by-side in the V1 Golf app, or seeing the side-by-side of my swing next to golf pros literally changed the game for me. I was better able to implement Billy’s advice thanks to the V1 Golf app.”
Still, she admits her biggest challenge in prepping for the movie was mental — being constantly reminded how comparable golf and acting are purely because they are both mental games.
“Since staying centered and confident in my abilities was my top priority, I devoted quite a bit of preparation time to mastering meditation,” she says. “Even when I felt like I wasn’t rising to the occasion in my golf or acting game, I felt like I had a toolbox to release my frustrations and try again.”
Rae earned the role in “Playing Through” (which tells the story of a tumultuous match between Ann Gregory, the first African-American woman to play in a United States Golf Association event, and the fictional Babs Whatling, a talented golfer and white Southerner) because she’d worked with the producer, Peter Odiorne, on several projects over the past 10 years. As soon as she read the script, she wanted in, so she poured everything into her audition tapes and everything fell into place. An on-stage performer since age six, she feels this role was ideal for her.
“My life has taken some interesting twists and turns, but I couldn’t be happier that it led me to this chapter,” she says. “It definitely feels like the best one yet and I’m so excited for what’s to come. If I’m always creating, I’ll achieve my career goals.”
She’s currently writing scripts, developing several projects, and will be recording new music this summer.
“I would love to continue acting and singing for the rest of my life, and play in some pro-am tournaments along the way,” she says. “I play as often as possible now, and just played in a charity tournament with my dad last week — it was scramble format and I loved it.”
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