Lauren Hartlage had never played in, let alone been to an LPGA Tour event until she teed it up in the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational at Midland Country Club last summer. Urged by University of Louisville head coach Whitney Wade Young, Hartlage and former Cardinals teammate Molly Lyne signed up for the tournament’s qualifier at The Fortress in Frankenmuth, Mich., which they won by nine strokes.
“It was pretty awesome,” said Hartlage. “Going out there with my teammate was special. I had watched the LPGA on TV, but never actually went to a tournament because there weren’t any close to home.
“Being inside the ropes was affirmation that this is what I want to do, and this is what I can do.”
Growing up in Elizabethtown, Ky., Hartlage was introduced to the game by her mother Kim. They lived just off No. 14 at Elizabethtown Country Club and Kim, an accomplished amateur golfer herself, coached Lauren at Elizabethtown High School.
“My dad plays too, but my mom is definitely the competitive one,” said Hartlage, a two-time individual medalist at Louisville and the school’s first four-time All-ACC selection. “She is the one who has the Golf Channel on every day at home and has caddied for me before. It’s special to have that mother-daughter relationship on the course.
“And everyone in E-Town has been super supportive of me.”
Kim played at Western Kentucky and competed in three USGA Women’s State Team Championships for Kentucky. She also knows Wade Young, who joined the Cardinals coaching staff as an assistant in 2017 before being tabbed head coach on July 1, 2019.
“Whitney was definitely one of the best players to come out of Kentucky. She played against my mom in the State Amateur,” Hartlage said. “My mom knew her growing up and then Whitney became my coach, and she was like, ‘Man, Whitney beat me all the time when she was so small.’”
It is these strong female voices that have influenced Hartlage and shaped her path to professional golf.
“To have a Kentucky girl come back and coach us was great. Learning from Whitney has been special,” said Hartlage.
The 24-year-old finished in a tie for 26th at 2021 LPGA Q-Series to first earn Epson Tour and LPGA Tour membership. Hartlage finds herself in Longwood, Fla. this week for the IOA Golf Classic presented by LPT Realty, coming off a career-best finish on the LPGA Tour of T77 in the Cognizant Founders Cup. It will be her final tune-up before the U.S. Women’s Open at Pine Needles Lodge & Golf Club.
“When I was younger, I wanted to play on the LPGA. I’ve definitely always believed,” Hartlage said. “It’s so new to me now, but I have committed to accept everything that comes my way and stay competitive, just give it my all.”