Even though she didn’t pick up the game of golf until she was 14, Kelsey Lieving has made it her new passion which now has her competing at the collegiate level.
“I almost wish I had started earlier,” said Lieving, a 2009 Geneseo High School graduate. “My dad made me go with him for quite awhile, and when I got better I started to like it.
“It is nice that if you don’t perform well there is stuff you can do to improve. You are in complete control and are competing with yourself.”
Lieving said the individual part of the game of golf is what really hooked her.
“It is nice to see results,” she said. “I like the fact I can play nine holes, have a score and try to beat that score. You can see the hard work pay off and it is very rewarding when you hit an awesome shot.”
After high school, Lieving decided to take her talents to the University of Wisconsin-Platteville women’s golf team.
“I knew I really wanted to go into engineering and not many Division I and II schools around here offer engineering and golf and Platteville had both,” said Lieving. “I definitely picked Platteville because of the degree. I am really glad I chose a Division III school because it is a commitment, but you have your own freedom.
“I have been so happy at Platteville, and I am glad I decided to play golf. Playing Division III golf was a good balance for all my activities. It has been the best experience, and I have no regrets.”
Lieving said two of the biggest adjustments from high school to college golf were playing from the men’s tees and the Wisconsin courses.
“Playing from the men’s tees is a lot more difficult and a big difference. That was a huge thing for me,” she said.
“Also, I have only played Illinois courses before so going to the Wisconsin courses is like night and day. Those courses are much hillier. I was able to adjust really quick and it just made me a better golfer. I have gotten a lot better since high school, and I am a stronger player now.”
Lieving stated it has been nice to have flexibility in her practice schedule, unlike other sports.
“We are able to set our practice schedule around our school schedule,” she said. “We need to fit in two to three hours of practice everyday. We set our time ahead so our coach can be there and it is a lot of one-on-one attention, which is really nice.”
For Lieving, two highlights from her time at UWP so far has been her sophomore year when she didn’t play well at conference in the first round, but got better the second round and in the third round broke 80 to take ninth. Another highlight was winning the Augustana Invite this past spring.
A challenge Lieving has had to overcome has been her time management.
“I take a vigorous course load, work as a building manager at the student center and am involved in three or four organizations. I had so much going on at first I was overwhelmed,” she said. “My study habits didn’t change, but I?learned how to make them better.”
In her first year at UWP, Lieving placed seventh at the UWP Invite with a 177 and ninth at UW-Stevens Point with a 176. She also took 32nd at the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championships with a 276.
“That was a big transition time with getting use to college and Wisconsin courses,” she said. “It was a learning experience.?I didn’t do as well as I had hoped, but it was a lot to get use to.”
During her sophomore year, Lieving’s highest finish was second place at the Clarke Invitational. She competed in nine events and averaged an 88.47 with her lowest round being a 79.
“My sophomore year went a little better and I?improved even more,” she said.
Last season, Lieving took seventh at the WIAC Championships with a 255 and placed ninth in the UW-Oshkosh Invite with a 170. She averaged an 86.17 and played in six tournaments.
“My junior year was my best year, and I learned to have complete control of my mental game,” she said.
As she is preparing for her senior season with the Pioneers,?Lieving plans to work hard to finish strong this season.
“I really hope to place really well in some tournaments,” she said. “I want to stay really dedicated so I am happy with my results. I know if I work hard I know it will pay off. I want to enjoy this time because I know it is the last time I will compete for a team.”
The biggest thing Lieving has learned over the last few years is self confidence.
“If you are not confident in your game you won’t perform well and that transfers to the real world,” said Lieving.?“This experience has helped me build enough confidence to go after what I want in life. It has been a big character building experience.
“The whole experience was so much fun and I learned so much about myself.?I learned who I am and without this experience I wouldn’t be where I am today. There were times I doubted my game, but I always had fun. I would do it again in a heartbeat.”
Lieving said what she is looking forward to most about getting the season underway is getting back out and competing.
Lieving is an industrial engineering major and will graduate in?December 2013.