Kate Griffiths could well look at last year as a negative experience and a year lost.
The 19-year-old Notre Dame grad attended Jackson State University on a golf scholarship, which turned out to be far from what she had hoped.
“There were a lot of problems, in fact the whole girls team left,” said Griffiths, who is back in Red Deer attending RDC and playing with the golf team.
“The coach was the coach for both the men and women and the men’s team got everything and we got very little. When I went down I was looking to improve my game. I heard they had a swing coach and a mental coach but that wasn’t so. The swing coach that they did have didn’t have experience. There was nothing I was promised.”
Griffiths stuck it out for the season, and despite the lack of coaching she still placed seventh in the conference and named to the all-conference team.”
She looks back at last season and while it wasn’t what she expected, or wanted, she has a positive outlook.
“It was a real eye-opener and I take the positives out of it,” she said. “But I want to reach my potential and want to work with the right coach and I feel I have that with Scott (Bergdahl at Red Deer College). His program is great. We talk about the mental side and work on the basic stuff.”
The Kings also added former pro Brett Bingham to the coaching staff this week.
“He will be great,” added Griffiths.
Not only was the program at Jackson State not what it was billed, but she was away from home by herself for the first time and admitted she was a bit homesick. I was excited to leave Red Deer when I left, but after I was gone I appreciate Red Deer and glad to be back. Also there was a safety issue on campus and the education wasn’t what I expected.”
Griffiths took rec administration in the States and switched to kinesiology at RDC.
“I hope to eventually teach physical education,” she said. “I’m glad to be back home as the education here is better. I plan on living, and teaching, in Canada and feel it’s best to get an education here.”
However, if the possibility arises where she could return to the States, attend a top-notch college and live close to her brother Zak, who is in California, she would look at it. She would also like to turn pro if possible. But not right now.
“Right now I’m more focused on my education. That’s my first goal. I would love to teach and if golf doesn’t work out then I have that. Also once I get my degree there will still be time for golf.”
Griffiths grew up in a golfing family with Zak one of the premier junior golfers in the area and her dad her swing coach.
As a youngster Kate was into hockey and golf was secondary.
“I was big into hockey and was a bit stubborn to switch sports,” she said with a laugh. “But my brother was into it and I was always very competitive, so I wanted to beat him.”
Kate, along with Zak, spent part of each winter in Arizona with their father.
“When I was in Grade 9, 10 and 11 we went to Arizona for a couple of months,” Kate said. “We took on-line schooling.”
But in Grade 12 she stayed home and played with the midget AAA Red Deer Sutter Fund Chiefs.
Last year it was strictly golf, but this year she wants to return to the ice.
“Once our golf season is over I’ll look to play some hockey,” she said. “I’ve talked with a few teams, so I’ll see.”
Her time on the ice, especially playing with the boys when she was younger, didn’t hurt her development on the course. She has the size — five-foot-seven and 150-pounds — and strength to drive the ball as well as anyone she faces.
“My driver is my money club,” she said. “I have the power and distance. What I need to work on his my iron play from 60 yards.”
Griffiths showed her talent early this season by winning the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference North Regional individual title. However, an old tendinitis injury to her right elbow flared up during the first round of the South Regional in Innisfail and she shot a 94 and then rested the second round.
“In high school I had tendinitis and tennis elbow,” she explained.
“I kind of got over it, but last weekend it started to bother me. I was able to get to the end of the round, but we decided to rest it for the second round. I want to play in the league final (this Saturday and Sunday in Medicine Hat) and hopefully qualify for the nationals.
“I’ve had it looked at and hopefully I can play. I will push as hard as I can to get through it.”
As for how long she will be at RDC, she will see how it goes.
“The kinesiology program I’m in is for two years and then I have to attend either Alberta or Lethbridge,” she said. “I will look at the best way to combine the programs and my golf. Also look at the coaches available.”