After growing up in the often ideal golf environment of Hawaii, Brittany Fan was ready for a change when she graduated from high school five years ago.
Now that her career at Colorado is nearing an end, she couldn't be happier with her decision.
"I do not regret anything," said Fan, a senior on the CU women's golf team. "I think I've changed and matured for the better, in terms of golf and personal life. I think I've gained all the skills that I need going forward and I've really enjoyed it.
"It's just been a really good overall experience for myself."
Beginning Friday, Fan will wrap up her collegiate career with her first trip to the NCAA championships. She helped the Buffs earn a spot in the finals as a team for the first time since 2012.
Fan and the Buffs will compete at Karsten Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Okla., from Friday through Sunday. If they make the cut, they'll advance to Monday, and then possibly into team match play next Tuesday and Wednesday.
For Fan, the trip to the NCAA championships is the culmination of a great career in which she has placed herself among the elite players to come through CU.
Currently tied for fifth in total rounds played (124), Fan has the best career stroke average (74.24) among all the Buffs that have played 100 or more rounds. She's fourth in total rounds under par (19), tied for seventh with nine top-10 finishes and is second with 29 top-20 finishes.
"To see her progress from where she was as a freshman to where she is now — and especially this semester she's really kind of hit her stride — that's really fun to see," CU head coach Anne Kelly said.
Fan has posted a career-best 73.06 stroke average this year. Her previous best was a 74.5 average as a sophomore. She has a 73.0 average this spring.
"Senior year, after gaining everything that I've learned throughout the other years and applying it, it's definitely helped for sure," said Fan, who has 11 top-20 finishes this year.
Fan said her short game and putting have been better this year, and her mental game is much stronger as she has matured.
"I've learned to basically control pressure and self-observe to see what areas I can work on," she said.
Essentially, she's done what she set out to do when she chose CU after taking a year off between high school and college.
"I wanted to chose a place where I personally - not my parents and not anyone else influenced my decision — but where I thought I could grow my game to the next level and gain the most out of college and golf," she said.
Excelling in the classroom and on the course while in high school, Fan had plenty of options for college, but said CU stood out.
"What it really came to do for me was 90 percent coaches, 10 percent team," she said. "I did all my research before I came on the coaches, what they've done and what they've accomplished. I got to learn a lot more when I came to visit them."
Over time, CU's coaches — Kelly and assistant Brent Franklin — have become "like my second family," Fan said.
Guided by her coaches, Fan learned how to play in altitude and adjust from one course to the next. She also figured out how to deal with something she never worried about in Hawaii.
"I hit out in the snow every now and then," she said with a laugh.
Now, as she puts the final touches on her college career, Fan is looking forward to the next chapter. Just a couple days after nationals, she will pack up and move to Arizona. She also has some amateur events on her calendar before going to LPGA Tour qualifying school in August.
Of course, the future is filled with unknowns, but Fan is excited for what's ahead, in large part because of how her time in Boulder prepared her.
"This was the perfect place," she said.