It sometimes takes an artist’s eye to shape a golf shot, to paint the perfect draw or baby fade into a tucked pin, or escape from a troublesome situation. For Katherine Smith (Detroit Lakes, Minnesota) who studied graphic design during her time as a University of Nebraska Cornhusker, that mental process is second nature and helped her to a 4-under 68 in the first round with 5 birdies and 1 bogey on the card.
“I'm super visual,” said Smith of her style of play. “On nine today I was right behind a tree and I had to hit like a 40-yard cut, but also had to go under a tree and over a tree. I don't think I could hit those shots without having my art background. In art classes, you have to look at the same thing and find really small details in it, so I think that's helped me be more detail-oriented on the course and visualize things more. Playing that as my strength has really helped.”
Smith has only been a professional for a short time and understandably came to Plantation Golf & Country Club with some nerves. Though it was a slow start for the 22-year-old — she three-putted a par-5 early in her round and had a handful of lip-outs — Smith stayed patient and is off to a solid start after Thursday, something that was a goal for her ahead of the event.
“I was definitely a little nervous starting off the week,” she said. “It was hard to tell where the scores are going to be and how hard the courses are playing, especially because the two courses are so different. I got off to a little bit of a shaky start and then a few putts rolled in on the back that gave me some momentum and got through some of the more challenging holes. It’s kind of a weird week. Q-school is just tough as it is, so I'm just trying to get a good start and then hold on to it and keep making birdies throughout the week.”
Her nerves were also assuaged by having brother Carter on the bag. Smith is no stranger to having family around — her mother Marjorie carried the sticks at the first stage of Q-School — but it’s still calming to have the support of those you love most on property, especially with so much on the line.
“I kind of say that my brother comes out for the big ones, and this is a big one,” said Smith. “Mom did a great job getting me through Stage I and keeping me comfortable. I'm only four or five months into playing professional golf. I think it's special having my family around at any point. There are so many international players this week, so you're really grateful seeing them because I know a lot of girls are on their own out here, and it's pretty tough either way.”