Making it as a tournament professional takes skill, support from family and friends and above all, grit and hard work. We see the best players on the LPGA Tour and don’t really realize the patience, determination, and resilience that got these women to the peak of their chosen profession. Earlier this year when we featured our Casey Kennedy interview we asked Casey if she’d let our readers follow her progress by starting a player journal…. It starts here.
This is a unique opportunity to follow a super talented rookie pro right from the very start of what will be a long and successful career in golf. Follow Casey Kennedy on Twitter and keep coming back to this page to see how Casey is doing … in her own words.
My Story So Far
When I graduated in the summer of 2014, it felt as if I had been let loose into a world where I had no direction. I knew I wanted to play professional golf, but I felt burnt out after having played 5 years of competitive Golf at the NCAA Division I level. I entered a Symetra event as a professional that summer and I was quickly exposed to the world of professional women’s golf. I did feel I was reaching my tipping point after that event, however I thought that it was just something I would get over, and all I needed to do was keep playing.
With the help of my friends and family, I was able to get into Q-School in August 2014. Much to my surprise, I was out of the tournament within the first stage. I was looking for answers. I knew many of the players in the field, and I felt that I could compete, but to miss the cut like that, well it got me thinking, maybe I should take some time off. I had started playing golf at the age of 6. Golf ruled my life and I loved it. I was so determined to be the best, that during my time playing on the AJGA circuit, I would force my mother and father to stop on the way to tournaments wherever possible, so I could get extra practice before the event.
However, somewhere along the way in college, it felt more like a job than a passion. After reflecting about my time at Q-School, I knew that’s what I had to get back to. Having a love and passion for the game and being happy to wake up at 5:30 AM every day to train and love it.
My previous coach, and now friend for life, Kory Thompson, gave me an opportunity to be an assistant coach at my alma mata, I used this job to take some time to think about life. Since I wasn’t ready to move on yet, I felt the structure of a college lifestyle would help ease the transition. However the more and more I was in Augusta, the more and more I felt a burning desire to chase my dreams of going pro.
The thing about growing up, is that one’s always given direction, but as an adult it is all up to the individual. I would spent a lot of time by myself during the fall of 2014 contemplating what I wanted to do, did I want to pursue my certification as a personal trainer? Did I want to stay home instead of go back to Georgia and find a job up North? Would I want to just work for Augusta State (now Georgia Regents University, GRU) as the Assistant Coach until I figured it all out? All these questions were just fuelling my desire.
In December, after the season for women’s golf ended, I went home to visit family in Virginia for a month. The time spent at home helped me to reorganize and rethink my priorities. Sometime during my stay, it clicked what I was searching for all along. I wanted to play golf, but had lost the passion and happiness behind my pursuits, I wanted the ability to do it my way and find out the process myself. I had the support I needed to pursue my passions from friends and family, just this time, it would be up to me to make it.
The process really started in December 2014, a bit later than someone who would want to become a professional athlete by the incoming year would have made their choice to do so. I thought things were lining up. My plan was to go back to GRU and work as the Assistant Coach for my team, make some money to survive, and in the process I would practice between the women’s tournaments for the team, and their own practices.
I had a job, had a plan, had a place to stay for the interim and had a way to get there. Three days before my move in January, I was told I couldn’t stay where I planned on staying, this put me in a panic. Without a place to live what could I do? I called everyone I knew, and although they were willing to help, I felt that I would be imposing. I had to stop and reflect about my choice to travel 600 miles from home, somewhere where I had no place to live, a job that was only certain for as long as the season lasted, and a plan that would only allow me to practice sporadically. In a last minute decision, knowing my mother was in Florida, fixing up the house she has there, I reached out by phone and told her my situation. As always she was there for me and said that I could stay and train there. I then called my father and told him about the situation, he agreed with my decision fully. Within 48 hours of finding out that I had nowhere to live, I had decided against moving from Virginia to Georgia, and instead I was ready to move to Florida.
On a cold January morning, I got in my car, finished packing the last of my things and drove down to Georgia to say my goodbyes. It was a heartfelt goodbye with my coach, but I knew it would be the beginning of something great. I miss my team, my friends, my coach, my family and everyone else, but I know that this is a necessary part of the process if I am going to pursue my dreams of becoming a tournament professional.
As I drove out of Georgia only two days after leaving Virginia, for the first time in a long time, I felt at peace and excited to get to my next step in life…. the life of a rookie professional golfer.