Eleven women from the Symetra professional golf tour, one step away from the LPGA, will compete today and Sunday in the Northwestern Mutual charity pro-am at Lawrence Country Club.
They all share a goal of one day hearing a loud roar from fans lining both sides of the fairway, reacting to a great shot. Laura Kueny, 25 and a native of Muskegon, Michigan doesn’t have to dream of just such a scenario. She just needs to remember it.
The daughter of local club golf professional Jim Kueny and his wife Karen, another avid golfer.
“I come from a golf family, so it’s just in my blood, I guess,” Laura said.
Something else about her blood, she said, formed a strong connection with the sport she wants to make a living playing. At the age of 4, she was diagnosed with leukemia. That’s when the members at Lincoln Golf Club in Muskegon did their part to make sure she received the best care available.
“They held a benefit scramble for me and it was the first time I ever touched a golf club,” Laura said. “So maybe I had it for a reason, maybe not. I’d like to think so. I was on chemotherapy for two-and-a-half years and when I was 6-and-a-half and they said I was cured.”
She said she does not remember much about the treatments, but she clearly remembers the charity scramble.
“I remember hitting a tee shot on the first tee and everyone was watching me and clapping and cheering me on,” Kueny said. “It was just a really cool feeling.”
And did she hit a great shot?
“I did,” Kueny said.
Of course she did. A natural from the first shot, she does not spend a great deal of mental energy forever tinkering with her swing.
“I honestly know nothing about the golf swing,” Kueny said. “I kind of think that’s a good thing. I’m not always focused on my swing. If I’m having a bad day, it is what it is, and tomorrow’s another day. But I do have a swing coach.”
Once a month or so, she estimated, she sends her swing via a V1 Golf Swing Analysis iPhone app to Patti Butcher.
“In two seconds she’ll know exactly what I’m doing,” Kueny said. “To me it feels like a normal swing. It’s just not going the direction I want it to go. I’m clueless about the golf swing, honestly.”
She certainly knows how to use it to go low on the scorecard, however.
Listed at 5-foot-2, “with shoes on,” Kueny averages 250 yards off the tee and has come a long way with her short game. She won the Symetra Classic in Charlotte, N.C., four weeks ago, taking home a $15,000 check and ranks seventh on the tour’s money list. The top 10 finishers earn LPGA cards for the 2014 season.
The money the players earn this weekend will not count toward that list because this is not a tour event. Each pro is grouped with four amateurs and the winning pro-am team selects the charity to which the money from that separate purse goes.
Kueny, a graduate of Michigan State, played a practice round Friday at LCC.
“I love the golf course,” she said. “I think it’s a very fair golf course. It’s in great shape. The greens are rolling nicely and I think it will be a good challenge. The rough is quite thick.”
How does she plan on getting out of the rough?
“Swing hard and pray it goes forward,” she said with a smile.