The day after winning the U.S. Women’s Amateur 4-Ball Tournament in Florida alongside her teammate Hailee Cooper, Kaitlyn Papp was on a flight back to Austin. She was leaving for Arizona the following day. Kaitlyn finished the AJGA Thunderbird International tournament in Scottsdale, Arizona, tying for third-place. Again, Papp flew back to Austin so she could return to the course to practice for an upcoming international tournament.
That was just in the last two weeks.
Kaitlyn Papp, a senior at Lake Travis High School, has paved a way for herself in the world of golf and doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon.
Golf caught the interest of Papp eleven years ago. Her father played golf for fun and one day Papp decided she’d like to give it a try. She went to the range, picked up a club for the first time and began putting, chipping and hitting the golf balls as best a 6-year-old could.
For three years she played the game for fun, but when she was 9 years old, that changed.
“I went to an LPGA event to watch, and thought, ‘wow this is so cool, I want to do this some day’,” Papp said. “So I started taking lessons, practicing and playing in tournaments.”
Papp took up golf just like other 9 and 10 year olds take up sports. But her life was a little different than most kids around the country.
Her father used to be in the Navy, so the Papp family moved often. She was homeschooled and enrolled in online courses, so she could keep up with school during the frequent moves. Papp moved from Camp Lejeune North Carolina to Pensacola, Florida. Next to Okinawa, Japan, then back to North Carolina. Her family then moved to San Antonio and at one point the 17-year-old was living between Austin and Pensacola before she settled in Austin for good in 2014.
Kaitlyn managed to keep up with golf despite the frequent moves and thinks being homeschooled helped in her progression as a golfer and now, travel with the sport.
“I think being homeschooled was good for golf because I got to experience a lot of different courses and have a different home course every few years,” Papp said. “I got really used to traveling, so when I go to tournaments now I don’t mind the traveling, I actually enjoy it.”
Papp enrolled at Lake Travis High School as a sophomore in Jan. 2015. This was a unique transition for Papp because now she had to balance an entire school day plus a rigorous practice schedule.
“I definitely learned more about time management,” Papp said, “because you have to deal with homework, knowing when to study and when you have an opportunity to do homework, to take it, and just to make the most of your time is what I really learned.”
Playing golf for her team, rather than herself was an aspect of transitioning into high school for which Papp had no problem. Before joining the Lake Travis Golf Team, Papp’s only team experience was playing in the AJGA Wyndham Cup in 2014. Before that, she focused solely on individual play. Papp found her niche on the Lake Travis golf team this year and helped the fivesome become the first team in five years to win back-to-back girls golf titles in the Class 6A state tournament.
“I love [team golf],” Papp said. “Because in high school and college golf you’re playing for your team and not just for yourself…you’re playing with your team, your coaches and your school.”
Although Papp has an exciting future ahead, she is most excited about attending and playing golf for the University of Texas at Austin. After visiting a few schools Papp decided to tour UT. The moment she visited the campus she knew she’d be a Longhorn.
“There’s a new coach, the facilities are great, and when I stepped on campus I just fell in love and everything felt just right,” Papp said.
For now, Papp will stay busy playing in tournaments throughout the summer.
Wednesday she and 6 others will leave for Japan to represent Team USA in the 2016 Toyota Junior Golf World Cup.
From homeschool to high school and an opportunity to play golf for an NCAA Division 1 college, Papp’s hopes for her future are clear.
“I want to play golf for a living and play on the LPGA tour.”