She’s savvy, real, and successful on her own terms. Meet this month’s Featured Total Package Professional, LPGA Professional Golfer Kristy McPherson.
Kristi: Tell us about life on the LPGA tour. How many years have you been on tour? How full is your schedule? What are the fun and not-so-fun parts of being a pro golfer?
Kristy McPherson: I just started my 6th year on the LPGA Tour and my 9th year as a professional. The life of a pro golfer is a great life and a great way to make a living, but it’s not as easy as some people make it out to be. Most people see us play on Thursday-Sunday and think “that’s the best job in the world”. And it is the best job in the world, but Thursday-Sunday are the days we look forward to and work so hard for. By the time we tee it up for a tournament we have put in all of the hard work and then we finally get to go play and compete and put our work to the test against the best golfers in the world.
A typical season for us starts the first week of February and finishes the week before Thanksgiving. In that season we will compete in roughly 30 events with another 15-20 charity outings throughout the year. This season we will travel to 13 different counties to compete. We typically start the season in Australia, followed by Asia. Then we will have a stretch of events in the USA. And in the summer we usually make a trip across the pond to Europe. Then back in the USA for a few weeks before a stretch of 6 weeks in Asia again. And we finish the season in the USA. That probably all confused you because it is a lot to keep up with for us too.
A typical week on tour starts with a 9 hole practice round on Monday, get settled in my hotel before I get in a little workout. Tuesday I usually play a practice round on the other 9 followed by some good practice, then back for another workout. Then we usually have our Pro Am dinner parties on Tuesday where we go and meet the sponsors and people who are playing with us the next day. Wednesday is our pro am day. So we are paired with 4 amateurs who are sponsors of the event and play 18 holes with them. Thursday we get to focus on competing. We play the tournament Thursday-Sunday with a workout of two thrown in there somewhere. Then usually we pack up and leave Sunday night or sometimes Monday morning to the next tournament site and start the rotation over again.
The best thing about being a professional golfer is that I get to play a game that I love for a living. The hardest part is all of the traveling and lugging 150lbs of luggage with you from country to country. And obviously it’s tough to be on the road pretty much all year long and be away from family and friends and tough to keep a “normal” life.
K: What is the most life-changing event in your life to date?
KM: The most life-changing event that I have experienced is at age 11 when I was diagnosed with JRA (Juvenile Rhematoid Arthritis). At the age of 11 it seemed like the end of the world, but for me it was just beginning. Getting sick ended being the best thing that has ever happened to me. If it wasn’t for JRA I would not be playing a game I love for a living. I’m not sure how much golf I would have ever played. I was always a big team sport kind of girl. I loved baseball and basketball and anything I got to run and jump and scream at. If it was anything competitive, I would be right in the middle of it. I’m still kind of that way. But when I got sick I couldn’t play all of the other sports without a lot of pain, so I turned my focus to golf. Because of JRA I was able to play on the high school boy’s golf team and was able to get recruited and earn a full scholarship to the University of South Carolina. After graduating from USC, I wasn’t ready to quit playing golf so I just kept on. Because of this “sickness” or “disease,” I have experienced some of the best times of my life and I have met some of the most important people in my life and it created the most special relationship in my life, my relationship with Christ. As Helen Keller said, “although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming it.” Getting sick was the best thing that ever happened to me!
KM: I think it is very important to stay strong in your faith when traveling out on tour. I am truly blessed to get to play a game that i love for a living. I really believe that each of us out there have been put there for a reason. And I believe that each day we are out there we have an opportunity to be a great light for the Lord. He has given us a pedestal to glorify Him. Even if we can just make a little kid smile each day we are out there, then we have done something. Even if we aren’t at the top of the leaderboard, we still have someone watching our every move so it’s our opportunity to glorify Him.
K: Who are your key influencers or role model/s and why? Anyone who helped you on your career/life path (a game-changer)?
KM: I know it sounds trite, but my parents have been key influencers on my life and my career. They gave up everything they had to give me the opportunity to follow my dreams. They worked multiple jobs and gave every penny to give all 4 of us children opportunities to do what we wanted to do and a chance to have the best of everything. Without my parents support, I would have never been able to be so persistent in following my dream.
K: What keeps you awake at night?
KM: Bad mexican food
No, if I’ve gotten everything done in the day that I felt like I had to get done, then I usually have no problem just getting to sleep. If it’s a tournament night, sometimes excitement keeps me awake for a bit before just because I’m ready to get a tournament started or just ready to compete.
K: How do you define success? And what do you now know that it takes to be successful in your career and in life?
KM: Success is defined by happiness. The happiest people don’t necessarily have the best of everything, but they make the most of everything. You don’t have to have money or cars or a nice house to be “successful”, but a life without happiness can’t be a lot of fun. On the other hand, just because you are happy does not exactly mean you have been successful. A person is successful when they reach goals that they set for themselves, no matter how big or small.
It took me a while to have “success” in my career because I was too busy playing scared golf and trying not to mess up. I didn’t have clear goals and I would just compare myself to what others were doing because I didn’t know any better. To me, I was successful because I made it to the LPGA and I was ok with being good enough to keep my tour card. Being a competitor, that didn’t last long. I wanted to compete and be one of the best in the world. I still lots of learning to do and a lot of goals to reach. I’m still looking for my first LPGA Tour win, but I have learned that if I take care of my business and do my work, then I can reach my goals.
I think perspective allows you to have success in life. People choose to focus on either the good things in life or the bad things in life. If you choose the bad things, then there will always be things that stress you out and cause headaches. If you focus on the good things then you allow yourself to be happy and thankful for the things you have. That’s a better option than wasting time focusing on the bad things and the things you don’t have.
I believe the two most important things in life are your relationship with God and your relationships with others. If those things are where you want them to be, then good things will surround you.
K: Looking forward, what goals have you set for yourself?
KM: I have many goals left to reach while playing golf. I am still looking for my first LPGA Tour win. And with that come a lot of small goals that I practice and work towards each day. If I reach that goal, then I will likely reach my goal of getting back to the top 20 in the world rankings. And also reach my goal of making the 2013 Solheim Cup team!
K: Describe your personality traits that have helped you succeed in your career.
KM: As I said before, I think perspective has a lot to do with the way a person lives their life. Because I got sick when I was 11, I have lived a life that I never thought I would have lived. I probably would have chosen a different path for myself if it were left up to me. Fortunately, it is all left up to God and I trust Him a heck of a lot more than I trust myself. I am a true believer that everything happens for a reason. And I think that helps me on the golf course. Because even if I’m not having the best day or the best week, I can still put it into perspective and see how lucky I am. I am truly blessed to be able to play a game that I love for a living. And I think being grateful for opportunities allows me to make the most of each moment on tour. I think I have a fun-loving free spirit that allows me to enjoy the game and enjoy the moments of competing. But I also have a grind in me that will never give up and will fight to the end. I think the mix of those two things have allowed me to succeed thus far.
K: Where is home? Tell us a bit about your family life — pets, home life, background, etc.
KM: I live in Tampa, Florida, but that’s not home. Home is still in South Carolina where all of my family and a lot of my friends are. Florida is a good spot to live for a professional golfer, but SC is where I really want to be. I will eventually move back up there and be close to my family and friends.
I grew up in South Carolina and I am a Carolina girl through and through. I love being in SC and going out on the boat and just chillin’ on the water. But I also love being there and hanging out with the family and eating some of mama’s good home cooking. I try to get back up to SC whenever possible to hang with the fam and play with my puppies, but it’s never enough. My entire life we have always been a Golden Retriever family. They are the best dogs ever. I have a Golden now, my brother has two Goldens, and my parents have a Rottweiler and a “Lab” mix something. So when we all are at my parents it is a packed house and a yard full of big dogs. I have always been a huge dog lover. I will never marry a guy with a cat!
K: A few “Best” questions:
K: Best life advice for 20-something women?
KM: Live your life and enjoy it! Take your time in figuring out what you want to do in life. Don’t spend your days worrying about things that you cannot control and just enjoy the things that you can. Show the same respect to others as you would want for yourself. Help others when you can, but you have to learn how to say no sometimes. And finally, just have fun and make sure you smile and laugh each day!
K: Best fitness tip for women?
KM: Just get in the gym. Sometimes the hardest part is getting in the gym. It’s always easier to find reasons to not go, but I have never left the gym and wished I would have never gone. You always feel so good walking out and knowing you have achieved a small goal for the day. Always try to keep it fun and challenging so you want to keep doing it.
In the gym, as a golfer I focus a lot on core exercises because that is important in the golf swing. But as far as exercises for golf I would say not necessarily a ton of weights, a lot of core, and fall in love with the medicine ball.
K: Best tip to maintain balance with a hectic lifestyle?
KM: This is the hardest thing we have to learn as professional athletes. Our weeks are completely packed with commitments more than just golf. The key is to figure out how we can do it all without taking away from our golf and our preparation and performance. As I said before, this sometimes means saying no to people. If I did everything I was asked to do each week out on tour, I would never have time to practice and prepare for the tournament. Sometimes in this game and as an athlete, in order to be successful you have to be a little selfish. It is most important to take care of the things that I need to take care of in order to give myself the best opportunity to compete at my highest level each week.
It’s important to me to get what I need to get done, but then leave it at the golf course. Once I leave the golf course I live to leave it there. If you think too much about golf it will drive you nuts. So i think it is important to relax and hit the off button for a little at nights.
K: A few “Favorite” questions:
K: Favorite form of exercise?
KM: Any type of core exercises. A lot with the medicine ball.
K: Favorite career moment?
KM: Winning the 2009 Solheim Cup. To have an opportunity to be one of 12 girls to represent the United States of America and to win! That’s something that I will never forget. There’s no better feeling in sports! And something that I want to experience again and again.
K: Favorite spiritual motivator?
KM: I like a lot of Max Lucado books and studies. But I would say we have to be our own spiritual motivator. God has to be a part of your everyday life, not just called upon when you need Him.
K: Favorite golf club?
KM: Not sure if you are talking about actual golf club or a golf course. But golf club would be my putter because that’s where it’s at in golf. If you have a good week with the putter, then it’s going to be a good week. Where we make our money is on the greens, so you better have a flat stick that you like and want to hold on to.
As far as course, I would say Augusta National is special. Almost every golfer in the world would say Augusta National, but it’s true. Ive been lucky enough to play there 4 times and it’s just awesome! The history there speaks for itself!
K: Favorite city?
KM: I love Chicago! It’s just a great city. And I love it probably because when I’m there it’s usually for a baseball game. And that is one of my favorite things to do ever. To go to a baseball game and just kick back and probably eat a hot dog and have a beer and just enjoy the game. Also, Chicago was the site of our Solheim Cup when we won in 2009. So it will always have a little special place in my heart!
K: Any final advice for young women?
KM: Just live life and enjoy it! I know it’s easier said than done, but if you don’t even try to enjoy the small things in life, then your probably going to miss a lot of good things happening. Also, I would say trust God and trust His plan and His timing. He will take care of you I promise!