Jun 042017
 

Lauren Kim, a rookie player on the Symetra Tour, lends some tips to a student at Zoller Elementary during the First Tee DRIVE program on Tuesday, May 30.

TRIO HELPS BUILT INTEREST

SCHENECTADY – Three players who teed it up this week at Capital Hills @ Albany found time away from the course to boost the dreams of some Capital Area youngsters.

From hands-on clinics to a Q-&-A session, Alexis Keating, Alex Milan and Lauren Kim were engaging and enlightening about how they started in golf and what drives them to reach the LPGA. After a soggy Tuesday practice round in Albany, the trio spent more than 90 minutes at Zoller Elementary School in Schenectady with 28 enthusiastic kids. The 3rd, 4th and 5th graders participate in First Tee DRIVE, an after school pilot program run by the Junior Golf Alliance of the Capital Area.

The most curious question: “What sport did you play first?” The players shared their background with the kids and included anecdotes about when they started golf and what they loved about the game. Unfortunately, the weather keep the group inside but there was still room for some short game lessons in putting and chipping.

During one-on-one time with the players, the elementary schoolers used the DRIVE SNAG (Starting New At Golf) equipment. Half the kids worked on chipping while the other half worked on putting; all got tips on grip and alignment from their new favorite Symetra Tour players.

Alex Milan, her 2nd year on the Symetra Tour, explains the grip using SNAG equipment to a student at Zoller Elementary in Schenectady on Tuesday, May 30. Photo: Stephen Keeler.

LASTING IMPRESSIONS

Unfortunately, none of the three “teaching pros” made the 36-hole cut at Capital Hills @ Albany: despite a birdie on #7, her third to last hole on Saturday, rookie Lauren Kim missed by one stroke, shooting 73-74; Alex Milan, in her second year on tour, had a pair of 76s enroute to +10; Alexis Keating, also a tour rookie, struggled on Capital Hills roller coaster layout, shooting 80-76 (+14).

All three are now off to the next Symetra Tour event in South Bend, IN. No doubt, some kids will be following their careers from now on.

PRO BACKGROUND

Lauren Kim was born in New Haven, CT but moved to Los Altos, CA for prep school. She started playing golf at age 9 and became a three-time WGCA First Team All-American (2014, 2015, 2016), PAC-12 Scholar-Athlete of the Year (2016), two-time team MVP and All Pac-12 First Team (2015 & 2016) and led her Stanford Cardinal to its first national championship in 2015.

Besides golf, her hobbies include hiking, running, swimming, yoga, amateur painting and healthy baking. Her career Symetra Tour earnings are $9,287. You can follow her on twitter: @laurenjkim13.

Lauren Kim, Alex Milan and Alexis Keating with kids at Zoller Elementary School in Schenectady on Tuesday, May 30. Photo: Stephen Keeler.

Alex Milan, 24, started playing golf at the age of five. She earned a bachelor’s degree in finance from Florida State in 2015. During her collegiate career, she earned All-ACC Honors in 2014; claimed medalist honors at the spring 2014 Florida Challenge; played in three NCAA Regional Championships and in a school-record tying four ACC Championship tournaments.

She is from Lutz, FL and graduated from Steinbrenner H.S. (2011). Besides golf, she loves yoga, making arts & crafts from Pinterest and cooking. You can follow her on twitter: @alexmilangolf.

Alexis Keating, 22, is from Elma, WA. She first picked up a club at age two because her parents run a junior golf camp but she says it wasn’t until age six when she really started playing. As a Colorado Buffalo, she was the 2016 Colorado U Female Career Athletic Achievement Award Recipient and 2016 Tom Hansen Pac-12 Conference Medal Recipient.

Other hobbies include hiking, attending any kind of sporting event and spending time with family and friends.

MORE PHOTOS FROM STEPHEN KEELER

Lauren Kim, Alex Milan and Alexis Keating with kids at Zoller Elementary School in Schenectady on Tuesday, May 30. Photo: Stephen Keeler.

Kids at Zoller Elementary School in Schenectady on Tuesday, May 30 during First Tee DRIVE clinic. Photo: Stephen Keeler.

Kids using SNAG equipment at Zoller Elementary School in Schenectady on Tuesday, May 30 during the First Tee DRIVE program. Photo: Stephen Keeler.

Symetra Tour pro Lauren Kim and others work with kids at Zoller Elementary School in Schenectady on Tuesday, May 30 during the First Tee DRIVE program. Photo: Stephen Keeler.

Lauren Kim, Alex Milan and Alexis Keating with kids at Zoller Elementary School in Schenectady on Tuesday, May 30. Photo: Stephen Keeler.

Lauren Kim, Alex Milan and Alexis Keating with kids at Zoller Elementary School in Schenectady on Tuesday, May 30. Photo: Stephen Keeler.

Kids listen to Symetra Tour pros Alexis Keating, Alex Milan and Lauren Kim at Zoller Elementary in Schenectady on Tuesday, May 30. Photo: Stephen Keeler.