Learning from the 2022 Girls Junior PGA Champion: Kaitlyn Schroeder
By Brendon Elliott, PGA
Junior PGA Champion, Kaitlyn Schroeder poses with the Patty Berg Trophy after the final round for the 46th Boys and Girls Junior PGA Championship held at Cog Hill Golf & Country Club on August 5, 2022 in Lemont, Illinois. (Photo by Hailey Garrett/PGA of America)
Brendon Elliott, PGA, reconnects with 2022 Girls Junior PGA Champion, Kaitlyn Schroeder, after her Major Victory. You can find his pre-tournament Q&A with Kaitlyn HERE. In this follow up they discuss her experience at Cog Hill, reflections on her summer of golf, her long-term goals and more.
You have been playing very well as of late, with your victory at the Rolex Girls Junior Championship in June, a solid event in the U.S. Girls' Junior last month and now your victory at the Junior PGA Championship. To what do you contribute to your recent success?
Kaitlyn: I’ve been handling myself very well mentally this summer. I’ve done a great job with my pre-shot routine to get as comfortable as I can before I hit and accept whatever happens, especially with my putting. I’ve also been hitting it farther the last few months which I think has contributed a good amount.
You led the field with 3 eagles and near the top of the field with 18 birdies. While you likely haven't played in too many 72-hole events, was this one of your best events in relation to par?
Kaitlyn: Yes, this was definitely my lowest relation to par.
What were your takeaways from the Championship?
Kaitlyn: I’d say my takeaway is I was able to win another elite junior event, which gives me more confidence that I have a pretty good chance to win any event I am competing in.
What were your takeaways from Cog Hill?
Kaitlyn: Cog Hill was a great course. The bunkers were very deep and challenging. It’s really important to miss it in the right places. I like courses that challenge you to think, and Cog Hill did that for sure. It was also in great shape.
At what point in your golf journey did you start to know that you could really contend and win at a high level?
Kaitlyn: Last summer when I made the quarterfinals of the US Girls Junior was about the time I started realizing I had a good chance to win a big event. Playing Junior Solheim was another event where I gained confidence that I was physically as good as any other junior golfer, I just needed to believe in myself.
You are in a fairly unique position with your Dad being a longtime Division I golf coach, so you've had a great glimpse from a very early age into what the golf landscape looks like at a higher level. How much of that have you taken in and used as you have gone through your own journey?
Kaitlyn: Early on when I was starting to get into golf, for a few years there were a few guys on the team that would put in a ton of time. They were great college players at the time and always seeing them out grinding made me want to push myself more and work harder.
I play with the guys a good amount and I know doing fun matches with them is something that’s been great for me the past few years. I’ll probably never know the true extent that growing up around college players did for me but I’m sure it has had a huge impact on me today.
What are some things you are currently working on with your game?
Kaitlyn: I am always trying to get better with wedges and putting as those are crucial parts of a great player's game. Also, I try to spend a decent amount of time working on trying to hit it further as it can make the game easier to score.
When we talked before the Junior PGA Championship started, I asked you about advice you would give to young girls just getting started in the game. You said, "The best advice I’d give to any young girl who is starting to play the game and compete is to just enjoy it and have fun. In this game there are many ups and downs, and you get to make many new friends, but it isn’t worth it unless you are enjoying it."
I wanted to take that question one step further...now that you’re committed to the University of Alabama, what advice would you give to a competitive junior that is about to start looking at playing in college?
Kaitlyn: My biggest advice I’d give to someone trying to choose a college to go play at is: Go where you think you’ll be the happiest and to a school that can fit what you want. Everyone wants different things whether it’s a school with great facilities or courses, and every campus is different where some people like it smaller and others like it bigger. Just try to find what you’re looking for and trust me, you’ll know it when you find it.
What is the ultimate goal for you?
Kaitlyn: The ultimate goal for me is to be one of the best players in amateur golf and hopefully go on one day to be one of the best professional players in the game.