ALAMEDA -- Emily Childs may have been born to play golf. At the very least, she was brought up in a nurturing, golf-friendly environment.
It was on a golf course where her parents first met. Her father, John Childs, an accomplished golfer himself, was the medalist at the 1986 San Francisco Golf Championship. Some years later, her mother, Sandy, went into labor with Emily while watching husband John play in Alameda.
Given her family background, perhaps it's no surprise that Emily Childs went on to build her own impressive golfing resúmé. Among her achievements, Childs followed in her father's footsteps to win her age-group title at the San Francisco City Golf Championship in March 2008 and became the first female golfer to make the cut at the Commuters Golf Tournament a month later.
Now 23 and having turned pro in February, the 2008 Alameda High graduate recently reached a new zenith by qualifying for the U.S. Women's Open, which occurs June 27-30 at Sebonack Golf Club in Southampton, N.Y.
Childs advanced to the Open by finishing second at a sectional qualifying tournament at Lake Merced Golf Club in Daly City on May 20.
"There was a lot of excitement and a little bit of disbelief because playing in the Open has been a dream of mine since I can remember," Childs said via e-mail from Canada, where she played in a tournament this week. "I have been working really hard on my game to where I can compete at a very high level. So making qualifying this year was definitely a big reward for all the hard work."
The Childs family -- which also includes younger sister Carly, who recently completed her freshman season at Cal -- shared the joy.
"(Playing in the Open) has been one of her goals ever since she was a little girl," Sandy Childs said of her older daughter. "It was exciting and it was really wonderful."
For Emily Childs, who has competed at the junior, high school and college levels, professional golf has been both a rewarding and challenging experience.
"I have had a great experience so far," said Childs, who graduated from Cal in December. "Ever since I've turned professional, I've been playing very well. I love traveling and competing. Plus, it's nice to get a check at the end of the day for playing golf.
"Being my own manager had taught me very quickly about scheduling, traveling and being on top of my game. It's different from college when everything is planned out and paid for by my coach and school."
Also an artist, Childs sells her paintings to help pay for her golf travels. She teaches at golf clinics as well.
She returns whenever she can to her golfing roots -- namely, the Alameda Junior Golf Club, where she and Carly began to develop her game under the auspices of Norma Arnerich.
"From a young age, she went through the Junior Golf Club until she went to college," Arnerich said. "And now she always stays in touch with the Junior Golf Club, she stays connected."
Childs's career took a circuitous, though successful, route through both high school and college. For the former, she played her first two years at Bishop O'Dowd, where -- along with fellow Alameda product Martha Burkard -- she helped the Dragons advance to the state tournament as a freshman in 2004 and was an All-Hayward Area Athletic League selection both years.
Transferring to Alameda High in 2006, she played on the boys team as a junior and was a member of the first Hornets girls golf team as a senior in fall 2007. That year, she was one of two Hornets (the other being freshman Grace Na) to advance to the state tournament individually.
After graduating from Alameda High, Childs moved on to the University of Colorado, where she won All-Big 12 Conference first-team honors as a freshman. Preferring a warmer climate, though, Childs transferred to Cal, where she played her final three years and won four tournaments, three as a junior in 2010-11 and another as a senior.
This past fall, Childs served as a graduate assistant for the Bears, where one of her charges was sister Carly.
For Emily, though, Sebonack will be a whole new experience.
"I haven't played Sebonack Golf Club; actually, I've never been to New York, either, so this is all very new and exciting for me," she said. "I have taken a good look at all the holes and it looks like a great course and good challenge of golf. Sebonack is a Jack Nicklaus-Tom Doak design links-style course along the water that will require accuracy, shaping shots and a good short game. I am looking forward to playing this great course while competing against the best players in the world."
Playing in major tournament such as a U.S. Open is a major achievement for any golfer. That includes someone like Childs, who almost was born on a golf course.