Apr 012017
 

Kennedy Swedick has her good luck horseshoe ready for the Drive, Chip & Putt Finals at Augusta, GA.

Kennedy Swedick has her good luck horseshoe ready for the Drive, Chip & Putt Finals at Augusta, GA.

READY FOR FINALS AT AUGUSTA
By John R. Craig

LOUDONVILLE – A sparkling horseshoe necklace dangles around Kennedy Swedick’s neck as she goes through her routine. Even at this indoor facility at Siena College, there is no change in how this 10-year old lines up her drives, chips and putts.
“I’m extremely excited,” Swedick said. “Every morning I wake up and I always get blown away by the thought that I’m actually going to Augusta. I’m just so excited.”
The necklace was a Christmas gift from her aunt and she hopes it will bring her much luck on Sunday, April 2, on the hallowed grounds of Augusta National Golf Club where both luck and skill have factored into so many championships.
Swedick was featured as a story of the year on Capitalareagolf.com. Click here.

Kennedy Swedick on Sept. 25, 2016 at The Country Club in Brookline, MA when she qualified for the national finals of the Drive, Chip & Putt. Photo: Getty Images.

As a nine-year old, she qualified last summer/fall for the national finals of the 4th Annual Drive, Chip & Putt – established by The Masters, USGA and PGA of America – but will compete in the Girls 10-11 division because the rules indicate it’s the age you would be on the day of the competition.

Her favorite subject at Albany Academy for Girls is Science so on September 25, 2016, tied for first in her division at The Country Club in Brookline, MA, the fifth grader put her final putt close. She knew before it was calculated that she had won.
“I was tied for first and I just thought oh my gosh I won and then and I was just like I did a little victory dance in my head and I was like I can’t wait,” she said, adding, “well, we celebrated and we had a little dinner and yea we did mark our calendar.
“We wrote in big letters so we could always know and we can always remember it. But I knew I wouldn’t forget it, obviously.”
She competes tomorrow, beginning at 9AM. Coverage is live on Golf Channel. She watched the competition from her Voorheesville home last year when her friend and schoolmate Nicole Criscone of Clifton Park competed at Augusta. Criscone, who had just turned 10 a few days before, finished ninth out of 10 in the Girls 10-11 division.
“I was so motivated so I could actually try to go to Augusta and walk on the greens that the pros walked on,” Swedick said.

Drive, Chip & Putt medals earned int he Sub-Regional at Turning Stone for Kennedy Swedick of Voorheesville. Photo provided.

Teacher Peter Gerard works with Kennedy Swedick on Tuesday, March 21, at the Siena College indoor facility prior to her trip to Augusta National Golf Club.

PARENTS AND COACHES SUPPORT

The drives will be on the state-of-the-art practice range as will the chips. Putting is done on the 18th green, where so many champions have made key putts to win a Green Jacket. She will be accompanied by her parents and one of her coaches, Anders Mattson of Saratoga National, who was there last year with Criscone. Swedick’s other coach is Peter Gerard of Mill Road Acres.
“It’s ridiculous. I mean it’s rare. You always want to see the success but it’s rare when you see someone get the brass ring,” Gerard said. “When we were growing up there was nothing remotely like this. And to have someone who has only been playing really seriously a year and see the progression, to see the success, see how she’s handled it and she’s going to be playing on the big stage, Augusta, it’s ridiculous.”

Kennedy Swedick with one of her coaches, Anders Mattson of Saratoga National Golf Club in the summer of 2016. Photo provided.

Gerard earned the Player Development Award in the Northeastern New York PGA Section for 2016 and Mattson just won another Teacher of the Year Award. Mattson also just penned an entry about Swedick and teaching. Click here to read it.

“It’s corny but the kids are the future and to see all these people get involved, Augusta to make their course available, it’s just incredible,” Gerard said, adding how astonished he is that for two straight years there has been a qualifier from the PGA of America’s smallest section (out of 41).
“I teach a lot and it’s very difficult to get anyone to work for something that’s not there. Now that she’s got a taste of getting down there, gotta work twice as hard to get back.”

Kennedy Swedick on Sept. 25, 2016 after qualifying for Augusta at The Country Club in Brookline, MA.

EYES ON THE PRIZE

Besides golf, Swedick loves to read fantasy novels – most recent series is “Keeper of the Lost Cities” by Shannon Messenger – play the piano, tennis, ski and work out. This off season, she has been concentrating at “CrossFit Shatter” in Albany which has given her more strength and stamina.
“We’re trying to work hard to actually try to win,” said Swedick.
That’s the physical side of things. She has a mental side too: “If I hit a bad shot I just calm myself and go through my routine” and before I couldn’t really calm myself but all these tournaments I’ve learned, it’s probably what got me through Brookline, I’ve learned to calm myself and I have multiple shots to go and it’s not the end and you can keep on going to win.”

Kennedy Swedick of Voorheesville with her mom Karen and stepfather Joe with a Symetra souvenir from Emma Talley in June 2016 at Capital Hills @ Albany.

Kennedy Swedick with a ball signed by Emma Talley.

Swedick has really only been playing for a year. She followed Emma Talley around during the final round of the Symetra Tour stop in the Capital Area last year at Capital Hills. Talley lost in a playoff to local favorite Jackie Barenborg Stoelting but still found time to give Swedick a signed golf ball.

 

Gerard says Swedick is “very athletic, extremely intelligent, she gets things quickly, asks the right questions, able to adapt very quickly too.
“We’ll work on something and some of these changes are hard, we’ve made some pretty big changes and they were not easy and she’ll pick it up quickly and I’ll just stand there going ‘good for you.’
“(She has a) tendency to overdo things a little bit so I’ve got to reel her in a little bit but I like that. I like the big, I like the overdo it because you understand it. We can always back you up but let’s get you there.”
SWEDICK’S SIX SWINGS
So poised for her age, Swedick would not leave the interview until she made sure to thank her parents, extended family and her coaches.
“I can get nervous in the beginning when I’m going on but then I just put those nerves away and use them for good…good nerves. Like the butterflies in my stomach I get nervous but when I’m hitting my drive I put them to motivate me to try to hit the drive hard.”
Gerard: “She’s 10 going on 20. She’s really quick, very intelligent and she absorbs things. Now, she may make a mistake but she isn’t going to do it again…the two big things we keep talking about is enjoy it. If this is the only time you ever get there, you got there. So that’s unbelievable.”

The invitation to Augusta after qualifying in the Drive, Chip & Putt last September.

 

And both Mattson and Gerard boil it down to one simple number – she needs just six swings.

 

“Two tee shots, two chips, two putts,” said Gerard. “When you look down, you’re little world is right there. So she was talking about the nerves, things like that, they’re going to happen. Understand it, how to use it, get over it, now her time to perform, she only needs six of ’em and if she can handle herself better than x amount of the kids she’s ahead.
“Great kid, intelligent, multi-faceted, call it what you want but we keep saying be a kid. Don’t get into it. It’s not your job. Enjoy it for what it’s worth and just do the best you can.”
Swedick added: “If I don’t do my best it’s OK because I made it there but I’m going to try my hardest and try to win.”
MORE PHOTOS OF SWEDICK

Media darling Kennedy Swedick is interviewed by Golf Channel after advancing to Augusta, GA in the Drive, Chip & Putt.

Kennedy Swedick on Sept. 25, 2016 after qualifying for Augusta at The Country Club in Brookline, MA.

Kennedy Swedick of Voorheesville works on her putting at Mill Road Acres ahead of the 2016 Regional Finals of the Drive, Chip & Putt. Photo provided.

Kennedy Swedick has been working all summer at Mill Road Acres and Saratoga National for the chance to be in the Regional Final of the Drive, Chip & Putt, Sunday, September 25. Photo provided.

“…I love my driver because I can sometimes hit it really far but sometimes I love putting…it depends on the day,” said Kennedy, who practices at Mill Road Acres in Latham. Photo provided.

What else for the winner? A chocolate milkshake. The only way to celebrate for Kennedy Swedick. Photo provided.

Players at the Drive, Chip & Putt at the sub-regional at Turning Stone on Wednesday, August 17.

Drive, Chip & Putt medals earned int he Sub-Regional at Turning Stone for Kennedy Swedick of Voorheesville. Photo provided.