It has always been Katie Futcher’s dream to play a sport at a professional level. But golf was not at the top of her list.
Futcher was born a natural athlete, competing in a variety of sports including swimming, soccer and basketball. Pushed to become a star swimmer, Futcher’s family moved from Houston to The Woodlands High School district for one of the most prestigious swimming programs. However, before school began she decided swimming was no longer something she wanted to pursue.
“It turned out that I didn’t really love swimming, I didn’t enjoy it,” says Futcher. “I was good, but I didn’t like it. I was pushed really hard at it when I was young but swimming taught me a lot of discipline and a lot of work ethic, which I use in what I do now. So it was a really good foundation for me. But I’m so glad I don’t do it anymore. It’s a miserable sport to play.”
After years of practice, the extensive hours in the pool started to draw her away from the sport. Futcher says there were times she couldn’t physically get out of the pool she was working so hard. And at the end of the day she gained no reward for her training.
She quit swimming and later decided neither soccer nor basketball was going to lead her in the direction she wanted her future to go. After several golf outings with her dad, Jack Futcher, she decided she would pursue a career in golf – at the age of 14.
“I would drive the golf cart and look for balls in the woods,” Futcher said. “I never wanted to play, but he was like ‘Come on give it a try’ and I was like ‘No, I don’t want to’ and then finally I picked it up and enjoyed it.”
Futcher earned a spot in the girls’ golf team roster her freshman year. She knew it wasn’t going to come easy for her, but the competitive spirit and fierce dedication to training she developed as a kid gave her the determination to give it all she’s got.
“I had to work really hard at it,” says Futcher. “The hard work comes easy to me but I wouldn’t say I was a natural golfer. I much more of a natural swimmer, like in the water I’m very much like a fish. I love being there; I just don’t like to swim anymore. I enjoy golf for the challenges. There’s no right way to do it. Mentally you have to be so tough, and that what really hooked me to the game.”
As a senior in 1998, Futcher won the individual Texas State Championship Title, which helped land her a golf scholarship to Pennsylvania State University. As a member of the Nittany Lions women’s golf team, Futcher was an NCAA All-American in 2002 and 2003 and NCAA Academic All-American from 2001-2003. She was also a two-time Big Ten All-Conference selection and a member of the victorious U.S. Team at the 2004 World University Golf Championship in Thailand.
Aside from her dad, Futcher credits both her college golf coach Denise St. Pierre and her first coach Carol Mann for inspiring her career. Both played significant roles as she developed as a golfer.
“Denise really helped me mature as a person,” Futcher said. “She did absolutely help me with my golf and being easy on myself and the mental side of my golf game. But she really helped me mature as a person. Carol, obviously with her experience and her knowledge, she was a huge mentor to me. She still is a mentor to me and I’m lucky she’s around.
“They’re still a huge part of my life. I hope I represent them well and that I still carry myself and use the things that they taught me. They would probably never admit that they had much to do with my career but I hope they know that they did.”
Futcher turned professional shortly after graduating with a degree in Nutrition in 2004. She played on the Symetra Tour for the 2005 season where she recorded two top-10 finishes and tied for fourth at the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament to earn exempt status for the 2006 LPGA season.
In seven seasons as an LPGA member, Futcher has placed in the top-10 at least once each year. She recorded a career-best tie for third at the 2011 Kraft Nabisco Championship. Although she hasn’t made it into the winner’s circle, the lessons she has learned from golf are far more rewarding than she would have imagined.“I relate a round of golf to life,” Futcher says. “You experience everything out there – elation, frustration, patience – it kind of mirrors life. What I take away from golf, it’s definitely made me more patient. You get to react with some many different people. You get to travel around the world. It really makes you appreciate what you have and where you come from. It’s a great sport and I’ve really enjoyed my life and playing it and hopefully continuing my career.”