Where Are They Now? Emily Bouchard Interview
About the "Where Are They Now" series: One unique situation arose last summer at the inaugural Maine Event. We were able to introduce 2-time defending Maine Amateur champion Cole Anderson to 3-time champion Ryan Gay. They had never met nor did they know each other. It spurred the idea that we need to check in from time-to-time with Maine golfers to see where they are now and how golf led them on the life path they are on now. This series of interviews is conducted by the MSGA's Mike Doran.
Emily Bouchard grew up playing golf at Biddeford-Saco CC and became a dominant player in the early 2010s in Maine, winning three straight women's state titles from 2011 to 2013. Bouchard was also an MSGA intern and later a full-time employee from 2008 to 2012, before shifting gears and getting out of the golf industry. She now lives in the south and works as an air traffic controller.
We recently caught up with Emily to see what she’s been up to over the last decade.
Original Hometown: Saco, ME
Current Hometown: Baton Rouge, LA
Original Home Course: Biddeford-Saco CC
Emily Bouchard celebrating after winning the Maine Women's Amateur
MSGA: How did you get into playing golf as a kid?
Emily Bouchard: Getting into golf happened quickly for me. When I was young, my dad would take me out to the course with him every once and a while, but I never cared much for it. The summer before my freshman year of high school, my interest skyrocketed. I got dropped off at BSCC in the morning and picked up when it got dark. Mom would give me just enough money to get a tuna sandwich and a chocolate milk in between my first 18 holes and however many came after that. To this day, the only seafood I am willing to eat is a tuna sandwich from BSCC.
You were part of the state champion Thornton Academy golf team in high school at a time when even less girls were playing golf than now. What was it like being one of the few girls in a sport predominantly played by boys?
I had challenged myself and become very motivated to make the Thornton Academy golf team. Back then it was an all boys team, and rostered only 12 players. TA wasn’t your average golf team, they were well known and respected for being the best of the best.
Most of my time growing up was spent hanging with the boys and also competing against them, as I also was the only girl in the league for Saco Little League Baseball. So when I made the team, it didn’t seem like anything out of the ordinary to me. I remember having to play the men’s tees, and there was always lots of debate and frustration from some about that. It didn’t matter to me, however. I loved the challenge, the competition, and competing with the boys. To this day, I still feel like competing with all boys and from the men’s tees made me a better player. The rule wasn’t changing, so I had to find a way to keep up. Sure, lots of them would drive the ball 260 off the tee, while I poked it 220. But hitting from the fairway is a lot better than trying to thread it out of the woods!
You went on to win the Maine Women’s Amateur on three occasions (2011-13). How big were those wins and what do they mean to you a decade later?
Winning the Maine Amateur was very special, and my answer now is two-sided. In those moments, winning those championships were the biggest things. I was fueled by competition and always wanted to win. 2011 was my first year playing in that tournament, and honestly it was all kind of a whirlwind from that first round 66 at Penobby. I was several years removed from high school golf, so I don’t think many people knew who I was...until then. My dad caddied for me all 3 years and I will always cherish our embraces on the 18th green after holing out.
I’m very proud of those wins, but as you grow and move through life, you realize there’s so much more. People may not remember who won those tournaments, but they’ll remember the friendships that were made. I remember all of the support that I received from so many, and that’s what sticks with me today. And I hope that I could set a good example for someone, or help someone believe they can do the same. Whether it be winning or losing, golf teaches values used in everyday life. I always credit growing up in golf with who I am today.
You also won the MSGA’s Mixed Championship on three occasions with your father. What’s it like to win a team competition like that, especially with a close family member?
The Mixed Championship, in my opinion, is the most challenging format in the state. It tests your game AND partnership, whether it’s father/daughter, husband/wife, friends, etc. No way to win this one without a team effort. I looked forward to this tournament each year because of the stiff competition and most importantly, sharing it with my dad. He got me into the game, caddied for my biggest wins, and deserved to share in the glory for his own abilities! Though it was still special to win when I partnered with Joe Hamilton, nothing compares to those with my dad.
Bouchard with her father, John
What are you up to these days? Where do you live and what are you doing?
I’ve been living in Baton Rouge with Jessie the German Shepherd and Harley the Labrador. I work as an air traffic controller for the FAA.
Where did you go to school and what made you choose air traffic control as a course of study?
I studied finance at USM for 3 years and then Ron Dery (a fellow member at Biddeford-Saco) introduced me to ATC, and I immediately felt like it was my thing. I transferred to Daniel Webster College in Nashua and played on the men’s golf team. With it being a federal job, they kind of place you at your first facility based off staffing need. If you pass the academy in Oklahoma City, you get a placement list to choose from. I wanted to be in the south, and Baton Rouge was the highest level available.
Do you still play golf, whether competitively or casually?
The only golf I play is when I visit Maine in the summers. And Top Golf. I miss the competition and would like to get back into it. Time will tell…
Since you’ve been away from Maine, the two former women’s golf associations in the state (SMWGA and WMSGA) have merged with the MSGA. Do you see this as a positive for female golfers in Maine?
I think the merging of the two women’s associations was a long time coming and a necessary thing. There’s one goal, and that’s to grow and promote the game. No one does it better than the very established MSGA, with many avenues and resources to get people playing.
Lastly, you know the MSGA quite well after working for the association for a few years as the Junior Coordinator. Tell me about your time working for the MSGA and how the MSGA has shaped you and others who love the game in the Pine Tree State.
My years working for the MSGA were excellent. It allowed me to learn and grow personally and professionally. The sudden passing of Tom Kimball and instilled trust from Nancy Storey placed the Junior Program into my hands. There’s nothing more rewarding than seeing kids fall in love with the game and improve from one tournament to the next. Of course it was fun to work the Maine Am, or the US Am qualifiers, or the weekly seniors. But those events wouldn’t exist without kids growing with the game. I really could go on forever about my years working for the MSGA and how golf has shaped me, but it just has, and those who play golf know what I mean.