What is it like playing on the LPGA Tour? Isn’t traveling all year round difficult? How do you get ready for an event? I’ve been asked these questions quite a few times, so hopefully this piece will provide better insight about what it’s like to be a professional golfer on the LPGA Tour.
Sundays are usually your typical, "That was a good week of golf" or "Oh man, I need to go work on some things" kind of day. Sunday is my favorite day of the week because it’s usually the final round of the tournament. The game and the crowd itself are exuberant. This Sunday was a little bit different for me. Since I wasn’t competing before arriving at the LPGA Founders Cup in Phoenix, Ariz., Sunday became my usual Monday “travel day.” This next few stretch of tournaments, I will be driving with my mom and dog, Booda, to each destination. This trip was from Las Vegas to Phoenix, about a five hour drive. Through AirBnB, I rented a cozy house this week, and settling into the place was my Sunday.
Today, my caddie Cole and I went to the golf course at 6:30 am and played 18 holes bright and early. My practice rounds consist of figuring out my yardages, checking how the ball reacts on the green, picking tee shot targets, and more. Some of you may think, “shouldn’t pros know their yardages already?” but when you travel to different places, weather conditions and altitudes are just a few of many factors can affect the ball.
Waking up at 5 a.m. is never easy, but during a tournament week I schedule my sleep regime quite well so that I still get plenty of sleep. For mornings like this, I would try to go to bed by 8 or 9 p.m. but since I’m a so-called ‘night owl,’ if I don’t have to be up until 10 a.m., I’ll probably still be up at midnight. This Monday I wanted to practice early and have the afternoon off to see friends here in Phoenix.
One of the things I love about being on tour is the traveling. I am not in love with everything that encompasses travelling, like living out of a suitcase, never being home, or all of the airport visits, but I love seeing my friends all around the country. As you grow up, people go their own ways. Whether it’s a new job or moving to the place where they went to college, you don’t get to see your friends like you used to anymore.
What do my friends and I do for fun? Surprisingly or unsurprisingly enough, more golf! We went to TopGolf in Scottsdale (go check out my Instagram to see videos)! I really enjoyed TopGolf -- it’s a great hangout place for all ages and showcases the fun side of golf effortlessly. I always try to put aside time to see my friends and to have fun during a tournament week. Practicing and focusing are important aspects of being successful, but I believe that relaxing and being a normal 20-something are just as significant in order to be a happy, successful athlete. Being a professional athlete and competing regularly can be extremely stressful…it’s crucial to surround yourself with people who love and support you.
Maintaining consistent body condition is very difficult especially when you play a year round sport. Because I’ve had few injuries, I have a full year osteopath who works with me from Tuesday through Sunday every tournament week. Any golfer will tell you that treatments and strength training are important for the body in order to have a lengthy career. Stretching everyday is a must to avoid sudden injuries, so I stretch every morning before I warm up to go play and sometimes again at the end of the day. Eating healthy and consistently can’t be overlooked either. I try to keep my golf bag stocked with food so I can keep my energy up and keep focused throughout the round. My go-tos? Quest bars, trail mix, and BioSteel sports drinks.
The most important day of the week is Wednesday, a.k.a. “Pro-Am Day”. Without our sponsors, this dream I’m living wouldn’t be possible. Being able to play with the people that create amazing opportunities for us players and to meet the supporters of the LPGA is inspiring to me. My group today was exciting, not because they were CEOs or directors, but because they were holing out from bunkers for eagle, chipping in, and driving the ball 300 yards! I have met some incredible people in pro-ams and I just want to say thank you to all LPGA sponsors and the fans for believing in us and making this dream possible.
Today is Thursday, which I refer to as “Go Time”. I’m teeing off at 2:55 p.m. eastern, so I have to go get my golf bag ready. Thanks for reading -- I hope I gave you a better insight to my life on tour! 'Til next time!
XOXO, DANIELLE KANG