Kate Wynja, a freshman golfer at Northwestern, rolled with the big leagues this summer when she golfed in the Symetra Tour. The tour is a semi-pro level where female pro golfers play around the nation.
To play in the tournament, you must be a professional or qualify as an amateur, and that’s just what Wynja did.
She got the call after she had self-reported her score at the state tournament her senior year of high school, which in turn disqualified her from winning the individual state title.
This integrity move is what attracted Wynja to those who run the tournament, and led her to be one of two amateurs who got the invitation.
“They always have two exemption slots [for amateurs],” Wynja explains. “I filled one of them and then a 16-year-old from Europe filled the other.”
The 16-year-old, Julia Engstrom from Sweden, has been the world’s highest-ranked golfer born in the 21st century for the past two years.
Wynja and Engstrom joined 142 other professional golfers on Willow Run Golf Course in Sioux Falls. The tournament ran from Aug. 30 – Sept. 2.
Golfing with so many talented people is definitely an honor, and Wynja recognized the position she was in.
“Overall, it was intense. I was with ladies where this is their lifestyle, and I admire that a lot,” Wynja said. “I don’t have the focus level that they have, so it was really cool to watch.”
Though the pressure was definitely on, she felt that she played well. While she acknowledges it was definitely a more competitive tournament than usual, Wynja enjoyed her time and still played her own game.
“It was hard. It was really long distances because they’re just that good. But I’m happy with how I played from that distance and with the wind that day.”
Though playing a tough course, Wynja still came through with an 86 on the first day and an 81 the second day.
While the Symetra Tour isn’t a common household name, the tournament website describes itself as the official developmental golf tour of the LPGA. Wynja gives more insight, explaining that the tournament “is like the stepping stone to the LPGA. So all the ladies who play have their pro card. They have declared themselves a pro.”
Declaring herself a professional at some point in the future isn’t on Wynja’s radar. She’s very excited to become a teacher, and she’s here at NW for special education.
“Most people are like, why wouldn’t you wanna be a pro? But I’m really excited about teaching. God has given me a passion to become a teacher,” Wynja shares.