Grown up and growing the game
Ex-WPIAL golf champion DeCola assistant club pro at Orangeburg Country Club in S.C.

By John Enrietto 
Eagle Sports Editor 

ORANGEBURG, S.C. — For years, Marissa DeCola had her sights set on the LPGA. 

Butler graduate and former WPIAL girls golf champion accepted a scholarship to continue her academic and golf career at Indiana University in the Big Ten a few years ago. 
“My goal was a pro golf career on the LPGA Tour,” DeCola admitted. “I felt like I could get there.” 
A torn shoulder muscle caused her to miss her sophomore season at
Indiana — and set her sights in another direction. 
The LPGA was out. A pro golf career was very much in. 
“I returned to play my junior and senior seasons, but it wasn’t quite the same,” DeCola said. “There was no way my shoulder was going to hold up to the rigorous schedule of a touring professional. 
“I was almost acting as an assistant coach my last year at
Indiana. I became fascinated by coaching and everything that goes into being a college coach.”
DeCola graduated from
Indiana with a double major of marketing and professional sales in May. Her long-range goal is becoming a Division I college golf coach. 
She took a step in that direction in July, accepting a position as assistant golf pro at Orangeburg (S.C.) Country Club. 
“It’s a small step that way, but a very positive one,” DeCola said. 
Orangeburg CC is ranked 45th out of more than 360 golf courses in
South Carolina
DeCola, 22, is in charge of the Ladies Golf Association at the club. She has started a junior golf program (ages 8-15) at the facility as well. 
“We started that two weeks ago. It’s sort of my pride and joy,” she said of the junior program. “I’m only working with five kids so far, but it will grow. 
“I help out with the cart staff, the pro shop, help keep up the pace of play on the golf course ... I’m wearing a lot of hats here. It’s a lot of work and a lot of hours.” 
And she’s loving every minute of it. 
“There are some women who come here every day and I share their passion for the sport,” DeCola said. “I get to go on the course and play with them once a week. It’s a great way to get to know them.” 
Orangeburg is located 45 minutes south of Columbia, S.C. DeCola was hired after doing a FaceTime interview with Director of Golf David Lackey and PGA head pro JP Waldron. 
Lackey said it was a “no-brainer” to entice DeCola to head south. 
“Marissa’s enthusiasm and personality made her a perfect fit for the job,” Lackey said. “A personality like hers is a huge asset to the golf business. 
“She came to us with the junior program idea. We gave her the green light and she just went for it. Her first couple of months with us have been fantastic.” 
Even with the culture shock of the deep south
It’s 90 degrees out here,” DeCola said Tuesday. “When I first got here in July, it was 110 degrees every day. I tried playing golf, but after 15 minutes of hitting balls on the range, I was already drained. 
“It’s been a lot of adjustments. There’s the weather — but I can play golf year round now and that’s what I wanted. We’re closer to sea level, so the ball doesn’t travel as far. The Bermuda grass holds the ball more and the roughs are a lot deeper than back home.” 
But DeCola’s life work is now golf and she couldn’t be happier. 
She’s been practicing every day, preparing for her ability test. That’s something she’ll have to pass to receive her PGA certification. 
“I don’t see that being a problem for her,” Lackey said. “She is an outstanding golfer. Her background as a Division I college player and high school champion helps her credibility in working with the women at our club.” 
While she won’t be on the LPGA Tour, DeCola is not through with competitive golf. 
“I hope to play in some PGA club pro events down the road. I can have the best of both worlds,” DeCola said. 
“I’m very happy with where I’m at. I’m on the right career path for me. That shoulder injury really was a blessing in disguise