Kim Kaufman has played on the LPGA Tour since 2014. She has 12 career Top-10's after nearly 6 seasons on tour. She played college golf at Texas Tech University where she recorded one win, was a two-time All-American and was named the 2012 Fall College Player of the Year. As an amateur, she was also a semi-finalist at the 2012 U.S. Women’s Public Links Championship and was a quarterfinalist at the 2009 U.S. Girls Junior Championship. Check her out on Twitter or Instagram.
My college golf journey started ten years ago this fall in the west Texas town of Lubbock. After a 980 mile drive, my parents dropped me off at Texas Tech University with a teary goodbye, leaving me to learn all the things I didn’t know I needed to learn over the next four years. I look back now and can easily point to all the different ways playing college golf prepared me for the LPGA.
My first order of business? Creating a new family.
Nobody would ever replace my hometown, my childhood friends, or my family, but making a “family” of friends in Lubbock was something that was extremely helpful. It is something I am even more grateful for on the LPGA. No matter how wonderful your life is at home, the reality on the LPGA tour is that you are rarely home and therefore need to make sure you have a life on tour as well. I know that I have enjoyed each stage of my playing career and perhaps even played better because of the great friends I’ve had by my side in both Lubbock and out on tour.
There is a lot of talk surrounding that those who choose college and those who head straight to the tour. If I’m being honest, I had no choice because I needed those four years in college. I needed the weight training to become stronger and gain some distance. I needed to become a better putter, a better wedge player, and needed to learn how to make more birdies. I won’t even mention the work I needed on my bunker game. As driven and determined as I was as a teenager, I don’t think I could replicate the system of mandated practice four hours a day with a team of girls pushing me to be better. What I also learned after six years on the LPGA is that the tour will always be here. It will be here after you’ve gone to college, earned a degree to fall back on, and honed your skills to be a better professional than you probably would have been straight out of high school.
Perhaps even more important than the technical improvements I made in college were all the “other” aspects I was exposed to. I had one head coach and 2 different assistants in my four years and they opened my mind to so many different ideas in course management, mental coaching, practice planning and drills, and ideas. They taught me so many big picture things that I just hadn’t been exposed to as much as a junior player. To this day I still manage practice plans and use drills that I learned in college. I also valued the opinion of coaches who didn’t have an emotional attachment to me. Everyone’s mom will tell them they can play on the LPGA tour, but hearing it from someone that was unbiased gave me the confidence to take the chance.
At the end of my four years in Lubbock, I felt like I had grown from a young, wide eyed girl to an adult. I wasn’t afraid to jump in my car and hit the road playing the mini tours and LPGA developmental tour all by myself. Without college golf, I wouldn’t have had the skills or the confidence to play on the LPGA, and for that I’m thankful that I made the choice to spend four years to learn and grow on and off the course.