Annabelle Pancake: On Teeing Up Her Future
This month, we are pleased to feature on our cover Zionsville resident and former Eagle Annabelle Pancake. Pancake is a sophomore at Clemson University who just recently won the IWGA State Amateur Championship at Prairie View Golf Club.
Pancake shot an impressive 36-hole total of 13-under-par 131, a new IWGA State Amateur Championship record, to have a 9-shot lead going into her final round where she finished at 16-under-par for the tournament, defeating her opponent, Haylin Harris, by an astounding 14 shots. Pancake’s finish broke the IWGA State Amateur Championship 54-hole record and was the most shots any player has ever won by in an IWGA event.
Golf Is in Her Genes
The Pancakes are no strangers to the game of golf. Pancake’s parents, Tony and Libby Pancake, both played collegiate golf. Libby played at Arizona State, and Tony played at the University of Alabama. Ironic since his daughter is a Clemson Tiger. Like mother, like daughter, Libby won the Indiana Women’s Amateur in 1985. Pancake’s aunt, Kelli Akers, won that same tournament. Tony Pancake is the director of golf at Crooked Stick Golf Club. Pancake’s brother TJ and sister Allie also played college golf, and her brother Trent managed the Purdue golf team in college.
The Early Years
Many of us started out playing golf practice putting in our backyards with a primary-colored, plastic Fisher Price club set, but when asked if this was an accurate depiction of her first years as a toddler on the green, Pancake smiled as she reflected and replied, “It wasn’t plastic—it was real. It was a real set with a little pink bag. I’ve had a club in my hand since I was 3 and played in my first tournament when I was 3 at the Little People’s Golf Tournament in Illinois.”
Like most preteens, Pancake was not sure about her future and truthfully loathed golf for a period.
“All of my friends will tell you that when I was 9–13, I hated golf,” Pancake admitted. “When I was 13, my mom told me that I had to decide what I wanted and that [golf] was my deal. They weren’t going to force me to go to the golf course. I had to want it. They told me that I could play in college if I worked hard enough, and I decided to take it and make it my own [deal]. I went out and practiced every day. A lot of sacrifices were made as a kid in order to play well. And it’s all been worth it.”
Playing as a Lady Eagle
As a lady Eagle, Pancake’s passion for golf only grew stronger, as did her incredible talent for the game. Pancake finished in the top 10 of the Indiana State Tournament all four years of high school. Pancake and her fellow teammates had remarkable high school careers while playing for Zionsville Community High School and won the Girls Golf IHSAA State Championship in 2017— her sophomore year.
“We showed up at state all four years of high school and made the podium every year we made it,” Pancake shared. “That was the goal—our high school coach [former head coach Jeff Anderson] would say, ‘Just get on the podium, that’s all we want,’ and we did it. I’m really proud of what the girls did, and it was also cool to have it be the first girls state title for Zionsville. We were all really proud of that.” Pancake’s high school athletic career wasn’t without its trials and tribulations, however. She suffered a broken ankle after winning state and had to sit out for three months while recovering.
“I went to church camp and broke my ankle, and having played sports my whole life, I hated sitting out,” Pancake expressed. “I was like, you’ve got to be kidding me. But that ended up being a time in my life when my faith really grew with God, and I learned a lot about patience—that is huge in golf. I feel like that is what really changed the trajectory of my game. I realized that [golf] is not the most important thing in my life. God is the most important thing, spending time with my family and then golf. So, I reprioritized things in my life and got a new perspective on golf. But I was determined to stand as soon as I could and then putt and chip as soon as I could!”
Goals as a Clemson Tiger
Though her first thought was to follow in her dad’s footsteps and play for Alabama, after numerous college visits, Pancake realized that Clemson is where she wanted and needed to be.
“God put a hand on that and had a different plan for me,” Pancake shared. “I realized that Clemson is where I wanted to be, and I love the community, the school and the coaches. I connected so well with the girls on the team and did really well there my freshman year. So, it’s all worked out.”
While growing as a collegiate athlete and improving her game on the course, Pancake is studying health science with a focus on the behavioral and social sciences.
“I think being a functional medicine doctor might be cool,” Pancake shared. “Anything to do with preventative medicine, I’m all for because I’ve had so many injuries and health problems—I’ve had a lot of experience.”
With regards to her future as an accomplished and talented golf player, Pancake is open to what her future holds.
“Obviously, it’s every player’s dream to go on tour,” Pancake said. “I would love it, but I’m just going to follow what God has planned for me. If that is going on tour, then that’s awesome. If it’s to go into functional medicine, then that’s great. I’m going to work as hard as I possibly can to get to that point and would love to get there [on tour].”
Pancake concluded, “I think that the biggest thing that I’ve learned is that no matter what, it’s all going to work out how it’s supposed to. And as hard as 2020 was, I learned that when things are thrown at you, you’ve just got to fight through it. There is always a light at the end of the tunnel, and we just have to remember that.”