Maria Juliana Loza has made a career of creating, designing, and testing golf balls – to help us golfers hit less houses and water hazards and hit more greens. So what does a golf ball engineer do? And how do they get started in this field? Let’s find out!
Maria Loza: Just if you love it, do it, who cares, there’s, there’s gonna be a space for you, you maybe have to create this space and you know, push hard and show that you belong. But if you’re good at engineering, you’ll show that you belong. And that’s all you got to take pride on.
Mackenzie Mack: Hey, welcome to “Getting to the Green”. The podcast that explores many ways that you can find financial success in the golf industry. From caddies to broadcasters, to engineers. We share how we’ve navigated the golf business and gotten to the green. I’m your host, Mackenzie Mack, a former professional golfer turn rising golf executive, and a PGA and LPGA, Class A member. Have you ever been fit for a golf ball? Well, you should. Believe it or not, each ball is designed to perform a specific way to support the needs of you, the golfer hitting it. Today’s guest, Maria Juliana Loza, a golf ball development engineer at Callaway Golf has made a career of creating, designing and testing golf balls to help us the golfer hit less houses and water hazards and hit more green.
Mackenzie Mack: So I’m actually really personally excited to have you on so we can learn more about what’s going on over there. And what does a golf ball engineer do? So before we get into that, we want to learn a little bit more about you. Tell us how to get into golf?
Maria Loza: Growing up, I’m from Colombia. So growing up, my parents wanted us to do sports. And so I remember actually, I was on the tennis court practicing. I was like seven years old, 80 years old, with my sister, and we were terrible at it terrible. And we went down to the clubhouse to have lunch. And my cousin was coming on a team. And so she’s my older cousin. And of course I go, Mom, what’s that? I want to do that. And so my parent’s only rule was we could play any sport, but we could only play one sport at a time. And so she said that’s called golf. And that’s what your cousin Catalina plays. And I was like, I want to do that. And she’s like, are you sure? Then you won’t be able to play more tennis. I was like, yes, Sign me up. And honestly, from there, I think I was hooked is such a social sport. And I love talking and talking to people and meeting people. And so yeah, that’s how it started.
Mackenzie Mack: So did you play Junior Golf? Like, what was your career in golf?
Maria Loza: So from there, I started practicing or taking lessons and I was terrible at it. And my Aunt Carter’s mom, her name is Nora, she was very nice. And she helped out with my parents and like, you know, if I’m competitive, very competitive, so I didn’t want to compete. And so she helped out with lessons and how should I train and things like that? And so I started competing, I played junior golf in Colombia, I was terrible at it, I would always practice a lot, and then come back and be dead last because I would get so nervous. But my parents, honestly, were the biggest champions, because my dad said, as long as you have work ethic, and I see that you are practicing, I will keep paying for your tournaments and letting you go to tournaments and traveling.
Mackenzie Mack: It’s great that you had that support system starting out, and that you wanted to keep trying, perseverance is hard, in golf, it forces you to do that. Like you have to continue to persevere, or you end up quitting really fast?
Maria Loza: Yeah, I’m not a quitter. I think as an engineer, I have the curiosity and I have to get to the end of it. And so actually, the way I ended up coming to the US with a golf scholarship was because when I was 15, my cousin Catalina who was really, really good, she got a scholarship at USC, which was I think, ranked number one in the country at the moment. She came on played on so you know, I was 15 and was like, wait, if I am actually good at this, that means I can go to the US and study there. And I was a math girl and all of that but I loved English class. I love languages. And so it just kind of wowed my mind and I was like okay, I want to do this. I have three years to graduate and all I’m doing is conflict. This is my role in life. Funny story I cut my hair like a boy short because I really heavy hair and I was like if I’m gonna wear you wearing a hat all day long. So I cut my more like my cut my hair like a boy. And just practice and practice. I changed coaches. I changed schools in Columbia to an all-girls school I asked my parents, they’re like, Okay, she’s serious. And I did I got to come and play at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, and study mechanical engineering so that you know, it was It’s wonderful.
Mackenzie Mack: Amazing. That’s an amazing story. So, once you got there and you decided to study mechanical engineering, was that always your goal to study mechanical engineering? Or, how did you decide that was the path you wanted to go?