Brittany Marchand decided a few years ago that if she was going to leave professional golf, she would go out on her own terms.
That time has come.
The native of Orangeville, Ont., had toyed with retiring after a frustrating 2019 season when she lost her LPGA Tour card. She gathered herself mentally after the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the Symetra Tour season in 2020, and played two more seasons so she could go out on a high note.
"It's never really going to be that much fun when you're playing terrible," said Marchand of her disappointing 2019. "But I wanted to get myself another shot.
"I didn't want to stop playing due to me playing bad, I wanted to make the decision good or bad results-wise."
Marchand had improved performances throughout the Symetra Tour's 2021 season, including tying for third at the Carolina Golf Classic on Sept. 30. Her final pro tournament was the Symetra Tour Championship where she tied for 30th on Oct. 7.
"I felt like my game was back to where I felt comfortable again, it felt a little bit more like Brittany again," said Marchand. "I wasn't playing my absolute best but I still felt way more comfortable playing out there and even with that I just wasn't waking up and loving it every day anymore."
Marchand announced her retirement via social media on Oct. 26, with Canada's golfing community praising not just her play but her role as an ambassador of the sport.
"Congrats Brit!! Wishing you all the best with whatever comes next! You will be great!" commented world No. 10 Brooke Henderson of Smiths Falls, Ont.
"So much to be proud of (Brittany)! Congratulations from all of us at (Golf Canada). Stay close and we're here for whatever comes next!" said Golf Canada CEO Laurence Applebaum.
"So many good memories and a lot to be proud of!" said fellow Quebec City's Anne-Catherine Tanguay, one of Marchand's closest friends on tour.
The 29-year-old Marchand has a degree in chemical engineering from North Carolina State University, where she was a three-time All-ACC selection and 2014 WGCA All-American and owns the school record for most career wins with three. She also won the Ontario Women's Amateur Championship in 2012.
A former national team member, Marchand became an ambassador for the Golf Canada's Future Links Golf in Schools in 2019, a program that teaches the sport to children. She also threw her support behind Let's Talk Science, a Canadian charitable organization committed to building youth interest in science, engineering and technology.
She said on Monday that working with children will be one of the things she misses most about being a pro player.
"Having the platform to inspire younger kids was, to me, a great part of the job," said Marchand. "I'm the type of person where that brings me a lot of purpose in my life, to be able to feel like I'm helping people in some way."
Marchand is still figuring out what her next move will be and is considering going back to school to further her own education. In the meantime, she and her partner George are building a new house in North Carolina, where she plans to stay for the foreseeable future.
One thing is certain though — she'll take a break from golf, at least for the winter.
"Before, I played golf when it was 40 degrees (Fahrenheit) because I had to," laughed Marchand. "Now I don't have to so I will 100 per cent be a fair-weather golfer."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 8, 2021.
John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press