Jan. 22, 2018
By Brad Muller | More Features
Katelyn Dambaugh has come a long way in a short time as a professional golfer. Entering her first season on the LPGA Tour after earning her tour card last October, the former South Carolina golfer (2013-2017) isn’t putting a lot of pressure on herself coming out of the gates as she prepares to play in the Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic January 25-28.
“I’m excited,” Dambaugh said. “We’ll see if I’m ready once I get down there. I am nervous, but I’m just trying to go down there with no expectations. I’m trying to think of it as a fun thing to start off with because it’s the Bahamas! I get to go play a round of golf, then go to the beach, go to a water park, go swim with some dolphins and try not to make it all about golf.”
After graduating last May as one of the most decorated student-athletes in the history of the South Carolina’s women’s golf program, the Goose Creek native began playing professionally on the Symetra Tour and promptly earned her LPGA Tour card last October. A five-time time All-American, she finished her time at South Carolina with the program's lowest career scoring average (72.67) and earned All-SEC honors all four years. Dambaugh still stays in touch with South Carolina head coach Kalen Anderson and associate head coach Puggy Blackmon.
“Kalen just told me to go have fun,” Dambaugh said. “She told me ‘it’s just grass. Go have fun, and it will be OK.’ She always says that.
“It’s just going to take a little bit of time to get used to being out there because this obviously has much higher stakes with the top golfers in the world there. Knowing I’m out there with them and playing at that level will take a little while to get used to.”
There’s the Bahamas, Australia, and there’s one in Hawaii, and some in Asia, which will be pretty cool to see.
That’s not to say she will be intimidated or star-struck out on tour.
“I know a couple of them out there,” Dambaugh said. “To be honest I never watched a lot of professional women’s golf unless it was a major. I know that sounds really bad. I watched it more when I was younger with Annika Sorenstam playing. A lot of people out there now are my age, and some are younger. It’s all about not putting too much pressure on yourself. That’s going to be the key for me.”
Perhaps a bigger concern for Dambaugh is the travel, and she does not like to fly.
“I’m starting to get used to that now because I’ve had to do a lot more of it (on the Symetra Tour),” Dambaugh said. “I don’t know if I’ve gotten used to it enough to be ready for that 17-hour flight to Australia in a couple of weeks. The short ones, I’m OK with.”
With that being said, she is excited about all the places the LPGA Tour will take her.
“I’m excited to go to Australia,” Dambaugh said. “That’s probably the place I’m most excited about going. There’s the Bahamas, Australia, and there’s one in Hawaii, and some in Asia, which will be pretty cool to see.”
She has received some advice on how to handle those long flights.
“Take something to knock you out is what I’ve been told,” Dambaugh deadpanned.
For now, Dambaugh is focusing on her first LPGA event in the Bahamas and reminding herself to enjoy the ride.
“I’m just trying to stay calm and not get nervous,” Dambaugh said. “I’m just trying to think about going down the water slide in the Bahamas.”
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