Rachel Heck, the first woman in Stanford golf history to win an individual NCAA title, announced in a first-person story on nolayingup.com Monday that she will not pursue a professional golf career. The Stanford senior will instead continue as one of the most decorated female amateur players in history and start a career in private equity after becoming an Air Force lieutenant.

“It’s hard to imagine how it will feel to put my clubs away at the end of the season,” Heck said. “How will it feel to stand over my last putt? How will I feel waving back to my teammates one last time? I still look forward to playing amateur events and, hopefully, many more USGA Championships. However, it will be undeniably different. Taking a step away from the game that has given me everything has been a gut-wrenching decision.”

Heck first made USGA waves as a 15-year-old when she made the cut at the 2017 U.S. Women’s Open. As a high school junior, a back injury sidelined her from playing at the inaugural Augusta National Women’s Amateur. It was the first time she was confronted with figuring out who she was outside of golf.

“Even when I was able to start playing again, I knew something was not right,” Heck said. “I did not recognize myself anymore, on or off the course. All my joy was gone, and all my smiles were fake. That fall, I became severely depressed. In that period of darkness, I realized I needed something more than golf, and I vowed that I would find it.”

Her golf success continued at Stanford, even as Heck started to discover other parts of herself. As a freshman, she joined Stanford’s ROTC program. Even with the extensive commitment on top of a Stanford course load, Heck set an NCAA scoring record (69.72) in her first year and won six times, including five in a row to close out the season. She swept the postseason, winning the Pac-12 Championship, NCAA regionals, and nationals.

Heck followed it up by contributing to Stanford’s NCAA team title in 2022, alongside freshman and NCAA individual winner Rose Zhang, but injuries mounted. Heck ended up being sidelined from March to August 2023 after getting surgery to remove a rib to treat thoracic outlet syndrome, where nerves or blood vessels are compressed. She played only 10 rounds as a junior.

The time away from golf pushed Heck to dark places, feeling an array of emotions from angry to hopeful as she recovered. The space led her to recognize that instead of pursuing professional golf ambitions, she wants to accept her lieutenant pin and begin a career away from the game.

“I was strongly considering attributing my decision to my injuries,” Heck said. “It is true that even if I wanted to, I do not know if my body would hold up on tour. But frankly, after a couple of years of painful deliberation, I have come to realize that I do not want to play professional golf. I do not want a life on the road and in the public eye.

“I no longer dream of the U.S. Open trophies and the Hall of Fame. And I realize now that these dreams were never what my dad intended when he first put a club in my hand. He pushed me when I was young so that I could find myself in the position I am right now: Stepping into the future equipped with the skills to tackle any challenge and the courage to pave my own path.”

Heck has competed in four events this season for Stanford—two of those in stroke play—with a T-22 as her best finish.

This article was originally published on golfdigest.com