DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – It’s like old times this week for Stanford grads Mariah Stackhouse and Lauren Kim. They’re roommates at the final stage of LPGA Q-School, which means Stackhouse, the prankster, is keeping things light. For this pair of 23-year-olds, it’s the best kind of face time.
“Honestly, it’s Q-School, but I would say already this is the most fun I’ve had at any tournament all year,” said Stackhouse after opening with a 4-over 76.
Kim and Stackhouse spent their first full year as a pro on different tours despite leaving the 2016 Q-School with the same priority status (Category 17). Kim played 20 events on the Symetra Tour and finished 38th on the money list. Stackhouse, who missed out on a full LPGA card by a single shot, played in 15 LPGA tournaments in 2017 and placed 114th on the money list.
While Stackhouse garnered more headlines in college, the consistent Kim was Stanford’s rock. The two classmates led Stanford to its first NCAA women’s golf title in 2015 and a return trip to the championship match in their senior season.
On Day 1 at LPGA Q-School, they played in back-to-back groups on the Jones Course at LPGA International. Kim closed with back-to-back birdies to post a 3-under 69. Stackhouse’s 76 included three double-bogeys, but she’s not worked up about it.
Quite the contrary. A year ago, a stressed-out Stackhouse would’ve headed straight to the range to grind. This time she went over to the Hills practice putting green to get used to the speed and left the course.
“I’m not going to tire myself out and die come Sunday like I did last year,” she said. Besides, Stackhouse already has Category 16 status locked up on the LPGA for 2018.
If there’s one thing Stackhouse took away from her rookie season on the LPGA, it’s to not take the game too seriously. In looking back on her best years at Stanford, Stackhouse said she actually practiced less than any other time.
For most players on this level, it usually comes down to something small.
“I don’t think there’s anyone out here that’s just way off,” she said. “It’s always just something little that needs to click.”
A missed cut on the LPGA this season could’ve come down to Stackhouse picking the wrong place to stay for the week or not finding good food.
“It’s freshman year,” she said, “but worse because there’s nobody there to guide you.”
Stackhouse said many of her friends from Stanford went on to grad school. Others work at Apple or Google or Facebook.
“Nobody has cured cancer quite yet,” Kim said with a laugh. Many of Kim’s friends who work in San Francisco are jealous of her life on the road.
“I’m like, it’s emotionally taxing!” said Kim. “It’s not as easy as it seems.”
Unlike Stackhouse, Kim doesn’t have any guaranteed LPGA status in ’18 and heads into Round 2 one back of five players. The top 45 and ties after five rounds earn LPGA status for next season, with the top 20 earning full cards.
Professional golf turned out to be more of a mental adjustment than Kim anticipated. While the academic demands at Stanford were tough, her classes and teammates helped to distract her during weeks off the road. That being said, “… it is really nice to go back to my place and watch TV instead of doing math.”
That’s one thing that’s different this week for the old Stanford roomies: No homework.