PROFILE: UC Junior Is An Engineer, Model and Putt-Putt Pro
Calling junior aerospace engineering student Robin Ventura an overachiever is probably an understatement.
The last year alone has seen the 20-year-old salutatorian of Northwest High School fly a Boeing 757 flight simulator for NASA, strut the runways for a Cincinnati modeling agency and play her way to the semifinals of a world Putt-Putt golf tournament all while maintaining a 3.9 GPA.
Brilliant, attractive and athletic? Robin Ventura is all three, and her remarkable accomplishments stem not only from her raw talent and natural gifts but also from her inner drive to be the best.
Being in competition has kind of always come natural to me, Ventura said during a break away from her summer co-op at NASA. Ive always been sort of athletic. I played softball my whole life, and I also played volleyball, basketball and soccer.
Still yearning for that individual competition after turning in her high school uniforms, Ventura soon turned Putt-Putt a hobby she picked up as a family game into a professional endeavor. In August, she became the first woman in 17 years to reach the semifinals of the Professional Putter Associations World Match Play Championship. She is also the only woman on the Professional Putters Association tour.
Being a girl or a guy out there doesnt really matter skill wise, Ventura says. I guess it doesnt seem like something that is very attractive to women.
Though Putt-Putt doesnt exactly get the attention or respect of golf, many dont realize the competitive nature of the game. Players like Ventura usually compete in 10 or 12 weekend tournaments a year and all over the country. Perhaps even more surprising than the level of competition is that there is a significant amount of money up for grabs.
For Ventura, a relatively new pro, career winnings have totalled about $5,000. But for her boyfriend, Kevin Lacey, whom she met at their home Putt-Putt course in Northgate, the winnings after a decade on tour exceed $80,000.
Lacey, 32, also a junior in UCs aerospace engineering department and also a co-op at NASA, is considered among the elite Putt-Putt professionals in the world.
Im probably No. 2, he said. Most people considered me the best until a few years ago. It is one of those things like tennis or any other sport. The top players rotate back and forth.
Lacey said most people dont take him too seriously as a professional putter until he tells them he has won two $10,000 checks in national tournaments. He has also won more than 50 regional tournaments and has been on ESPN six times.
Both Ventura and Lacey concede that their engineering minds may assist their game. Im a little more analytical out there than most people, and so is Robin when it comes to the math and geometry and trying to figure out why a ball reacts in a certain way, Lacey said. I think other people just hit it at the hole.
Besides their common interests, the couple also shares the memory of a rather scary experience in February of 2002 when the car they were traveling in was hit head-on by a car being operated by a driver under the influence. Both UC students were injured, but Ventura was lucky to survive. It was that experience that led to modeling.
I actually almost died, Ventura said. Modeling was one of those things I always wanted to do when I was a little girl. I guess I just decided that life is short. Do what you can while you are still here.
After a call and a visit to a local agency, she started doing runway work. Modeling is actually the one thing she really hopes takes off. Shed eventually like to act, and if acting doesnt work out, there is always that aerospace engineering degree to fall back on.