By Anup Shah
Big 12 Campus Correspondent
Ask anyone on the Texas golf team about Kelley Louth, and they’ll probably react one way. With a laugh.
“She can be ditsy at times,” teammate and fellow senior Kristin Walla joked. “She’s so smart but at other times you’re just like, ‘Kelley! Seriously?’”
But Louth’s innocence doesn’t fool anyone that knows her. The senior has put on a spectacular display over the last semester, including a four tournament stretch in which she led the Longhorns in scoring. And during the NCAA West Regional Championships, Louth fired a 1-over during a three-day stretch to help the Longhorns to their second straight trip to the NCAA Championships.
“I’m competitive, but I’m stubborn in my own way,” Louth said. “I always find some way to do it.”
That attitude is at its best on the course.
“No matter what, I’ll find a way to get the ball in the hole,” Louth said.
As soon as Louth steps off the course, though, she changes back into the fun loving person that’s marked her presence on the team for the last five years.
“It’s funny because really before I knew her, I was intimidated by her,” Walla said. “On the course, she has her game face on and I was intimidated. But after about a week I was like ‘Why was I ever intimidated by this girl?’”
The competitive spirit was seen at a very early age by her brother Jason, who helped get his sister involved in golf. When Kelley was young, her mom took her to the country club for swim practice, but couldn’t pick her up until the late afternoons. Bored at the pool, Kelley turned to her brother to help her pick up golf.
“I got bored and followed him around the course,” Kelley said. “I was a lefty but my brother was right handed so I learned to hit that way. We had a lot of competitions and it made it fun.”
For Kelley, it was obvious that the game came much easier to her than most beginners – a lot of it having to do with her motivation.
“I just remember her when she was 11- or 12-years-old, not just the fact that she played so well, but the determination she had,” said Jason, who is now the assistant golf pro at the Texas Tech Rawls Course. “It’s pretty obvious she had a lot of talent, a lot of natural ability. In golf, there’s something that people have that you can’t teach, and she definitely had it.”
But Kelley wasn’t hard-headed enough to ward off her brother’s jokes. When Jason called her ‘Skeletor,’ because of how skinny she was, she hid under the dining table and ate sticks of butter.
“It was just really funny seeing a person that skinny and that small hit the ball so far,” Jason said in his defense.
Eventually, Louth made her way to Texas in 2004, but with the hiring of Martha Richards in 2007 she had to deal with a mid-college career coaching change – something many athletes never quite grow accustomed to.
Louth, however, managed to adjust and thrive..
“Kelley and all the seniors have been so good about dealing with the change,” Richards said. “It’s been particularly tough on her, because since she was injured last year, this is really her first year with me.”
Louth sees Richards as a motivator and someone who can really boost the Longhorns to the next level.
“[Richards] brings a lot of good energy,” Louth said. “She believes in all of us, even though she didn’t recruit us.”
Never was that more evident than at the Regional Championships last week. Going into the final day, the Longhorns were in fourth place and in prime position to advance to the NCAAs. Louth and her teammates appeared to be playing just to keep their position. But Richards wasn’t going to let that happen.
“We knew we had to make top-8 in order to make it to Nationals,” Louth said. “Martha just told me ‘We’re going hunting today. There’s no pressure on us. Pick your targets and go for it. Don’t hold back.’”
And that’s exactly what Louth did, firing a final round 73 and making birdie on the final hole to help ensure the Longhorns a spot at the NCAA Championships.
“You’re always trying to find what’s going to make your players tick,” Richards said. “It’s not about telling them what’s right, but what’s right for them.”
Going into the NCAAs, Louth is going to lead by example and pass on the new attitude she’s taken with golf lately.
“I’ve believed in myself and I feel like I’ve taken a new approach,” Louth said. “If God’s going to bless me, I need to believe in myself first. We all have good golf games, it’s just a matter of conquering the mental side.”
But as is always the case with Louth, the fun isn’t going to stop.
“Her innocence can really lighten the mood,” Richards said “The best thing about it is that she’s not afraid to laugh at herself, either.”
As for Louth’s future plans, she will play in the British Amateur this summer alongside teammates Walla and Nicole Vandermade. Following that, Louth has already been accepted into graduate school and will weigh her options. Either way, nobody around her has doubts about her ability to succeed.
“She’s got a really big heart and you see that in the way that she plays and the way she lives her life,” Jason said. “She’s not a quitter.”