Elston-Marshall balances marriage with golf, school

By Shane Bacon
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Being a student at a public university isn't the easiest thing in the world. Add mandatory workouts, practice sessions and a dozen tournaments each season, and a student's workload can be almost overwhelming.

Meet redshirt senior Lani Elston-Marshall of the Arizona women's golf team, who balances all the trials and tribulations of being a student-athlete with another title: married.

"We were set up on a blind golf date by (teammate) Rachel Gavin," Lani said of her first meeting with Andy Marshall in June 2004. "She had been trying to set us up for months and months, but ... I'm very selective, so I was leery about jumping into something."

After talking with Andy for a few weeks on the phone, Lani gave in and allowed him to take her out on their first date.

They tied the knot just over a year later, on July 30.

The bond that anchored their relationship was a mutual love of golf. Andy played for Texas-Arlington for one season, 1999-2000, before joining the Air Force.

Andy became an MVP at Air Force, traveling overseas to play in an international match against England.

He wanted to attempt a professional career after his stint in the Air Force, but a non-operable herniated disk got him completely off the links.

"He was going to try and go pro and try the PGA Tour, but he had a serious back injury and now he can't play," Lani said.

She said that the marriage has been a complete blessing. Anyone who knows her can see a different smile on her face and sparkle in her eye.

Entering her last year of eligibility as a Wildcat, the 22-year-old from Spokane, Wash., said she believes the marriage has made her life less stressful and more complete.

"My friends and family were worried it would be this alternate change and make things so much more difficult," Lani said. "He has made everything easier in a sense. It is still hard, but you have your best friend around you all the time."

With the couple being extremely golf-oriented, some might think the sport is a major topic at home, but Lani said she and Andy try to leave work where it belongs.

"He'll look at (my swing) a little bit, but we don't want to bring too much business to home," she said.

Lani said that while the Wildcats' new group of freshmen might have been surprised to have a married teammate, everyone has been supportive, and some people have tried to have fun with the concept.

"We have some freshmen, and I tell them, if they're looking for a husband, go find Rachel because she'll find you a husband," Lani said.

With all that is going on in her life, Lani said she sees her final collegiate year as a positive, and that most of her attitude stems from having Andy there to support her.

"I know that emotionally and mentally, I feel the most secure and happy, so I think that will have a reflection in my game," she said. "He gives me confidence."