Success with Honor: Katie Futcher
June 29, 2010
By Michelle Turli, Penn State Athletic Communications Student Assistant
"Katie (Futcher) was one of the most prominent players in Penn State women's golf history," says women's golf head coach Denise St. Pierre.
Futcher won several individual tournament titles and was a two-time All-Big Ten selection. She started every tournament during her four years at Penn State boasting a 73 stroke average and served as a team captain for her final three years. Futcher was also a member of the victorious U.S. Team at the 2004 World University Golf Championship in Thailand.
A two-time All-American (2002-03) and a two- time National Golf Coaches Association (NGCA) All-Academic selection (2002-03), Futcher succeeded both on and off the course.
"As a student-athlete, you have to make choices that the normal student body doesn't have to make. Student-athletes have to manage their time so much more efficiently," said Futcher.
She received the Ernest B. McCoy award in 2003, an award that recognizes one senior male and female student-athlete who excels in both athletics and academics.
"I loved my time at Penn State," said Futcher. "The university and the people I met there have helped me get to where I am today."
Today, Futcher stands within a group of some of the most prominent golfers from all over the world, competing to make a living through the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA). The LPGA Tour is one of the longest-running professional sports organizations for women, which also strongly emphasizes and values charity, through its tournaments, its grassroots junior and women's programs and other affiliations.
"To be able to make a living doing what you love is a very special thing," said Futcher.
Futcher qualified for the tour in December 2005, after advancing through a challenging two-stage process.
"You are not selected or do not just join," said St. Pierre. "You have to go through a grueling week of qualifying rounds."
Futcher competed in the second stage with approximately 130 other women and made it to the top 20 competitors, granting her a "full card." This made her eligible to play in all of the full field events. The year Futcher qualified, she finished tied for fourth, with Coach St. Pierre as her caddy. Once qualified for the tour, players have to achieve a certain status of money to maintain their spot.
"Katie has done well for her three years on the Tour," said St. Pierre.
Since earning her Tour card, Futcher has recorded at least on Top 10 finish every year. Her best career LPGA finish was a tie for seventh in the 2006 MasterCard Classic. She has a pair of Top 10 finishes in the In the 2008 LPGA State Farm Classic, she carded a career-low 64 in the second round.
After turning professional in August 2004, Futcher went on to play on the Futures Tour in 2005, where she recorded two Top 10 finishes, including a season-best tie for ninth at the YWCA FUTURES Classic. She tied for fourth at the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament to earn exempt status for the 2006 LPGA season.
"I have really enjoyed playing golf for a living," said Futcher, "but it is harder than most people think."
For Futcher, tournament weeks are busy, between travel, practices, official practice rounds, Pro-Am days and the actual tournament that generally takes place Thursday through Sunday.
Futcher is typically gone for about seven months out of the year, competing in around 25 tournaments, depending on sponsors and economic factors. Futcher travels to more than eight different countries as a member of the LPGA Tour, including Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, France, England, Canada, Mexico, Korea and Japan.
Aside from its competitive aspect, the LPGA places a strong emphasis on charity. On Tour, Futcher is involved with supporting the Women's Professional Golf Fellowship and is also on the board of directors. She is a player director on the board, voted in by her fellow competitors to act as their representative.
"I feel very lucky to play professional golf and will hopefully play for as long as my body can hold up," said Futcher.