In its simplest terms, golf is a game where the player is trying to get the small white ball into the hole. But as much as anything, golf is a mental competition as much as it is physical.
Over the last four years, Southwest Minnesota State senior golfer KC Kane has been one of the most competitive players in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference, which has been both her greatest attribute and a deterrent in her game.
In the last four years, the goal for Mustangs head coach Ross Webskowski was to help Kane curb her enthusiasm on the course to become a more even-keel player.
Photo courtesy of SMSU Athletics
Southwest Minnesota State’s?KC Kane will lead the Mustang women’s golf team into the NCAA?Central Region Championship Sunday at Elephante Butte, N.M. In 20 rounds this season, Kane leads the Mustangs with a stroke average of 82.0.
"She's a very competitive golfer and emotions get to her at times," Webskowski said. "I think that's why she is so good and is one of the better players in the region is because she's so competitive and has a lot of drive. We just need to channel that energy into a positive light."
This Sunday, Kane will lead SMSU to the Central Region Championship for the final time in her career. The Mustangs are seeded No. 7 in the Central Region Championship, which will be played Sunday through Tuesday in Elephant Butte, N.M.
Kane is hoping that her play over the three-day tournament can help extend her playing career for one more tournament.
"This week has been a little bit different just because it's my senior year, so it's really hard to keep it out of my mind that if we don't move on from here, I'm done," Kane said.
And since coming to SMSU from Buffalo, Kane has consistently been one of the best in the NSIC, finishing in the top five in the conference tournament as a freshman (tied-3rd), junior (5th) and senior (4th). Averaging a score of 81.1 in her four years, Kane will break Erin Oakland's school record for career stroke average (81.6).
For her level of success, Webskowski is quick to credit Kane's mental toughness as the biggest reason for her success.
"She's a lot tougher than everyone else mentally, especially around the greens," Webskowski said. "She's really good at getting up and down, and she makes the eight- to 10-foot putts when it's for par, which a lot of her competition can't make those when they need to."
But that mental toughness has also caused Kane and Webskowski to clash at times, especially when Kane was a younger player on the team.
"Sometimes (Webskowski) won't put up with it," Kane said. "He won't show it in the round, but later, he'll give me a talk and say that's not how we present ourselves on the course. Freshman year was a big year for that."
Now that she's a senior and has matured on the course, Kane has found better ways to harness her temper and now, she says her relationship is "amazing" with Webskowski.
"I am a really intense, competitive person in everything I do," Kane said, "but at the same time, I think I've learned you can be that way, but you need to present yourself with a lot of class. Don't let what you're doing in golf affect your attitude towards them at all."
Now, their focus turns to the Central Region championship, where Kane and the Mustangs have been stagnant in their last three tries. The last three years, SMSU has finished in seventh place, with Kane's best finish coming as a freshman in a tie for 18th place. She finished tied for 20th as a sophomore and tied for 21st as a junior.
"There's one tournament that she hasn't performed well at in the past and that's the regional tournament," Webskowski said. "I think she's looking forward for another opportunity to do it on that stage as well."
Kane's mindset on the course: she's come this far, why have her collegiate career end at the region championship?
"I really try not to focus on (ending my career) because we have one tournament left, and hopefully two more," Kane said. "All I can do is perform my best."