Ket Preamchuen sits in solo third after the first round at Champions GC
HOUSTON, TX (November 11, 2017) - If there’s a distinguishing factor in mid-amateur golf, it’s that the game is not life. Mid-amateurs have day jobs, families and other interests.
, 26, has all the interests, but it just happens that they’re in golf. Here’s a player who has dabbled in just about everything the game has to offer. This week marks her first U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship.
Check another box.
After one round at Champions Golf Club in Houston, Preamchuen is in solo third. She fired a 2-under 70 on Saturday that included five birdies and just one hiccup. Stuck under a tree at the seventh hole, Preamchuen got a little ambitious and didn’t quite get her recovery shot back in play. Add a three-putt and she ended up with a double-bogey. It was the only blemish on a scorecard that also included five birdies.
Still, it’s not bad for a player who hasn’t seen competition for a year before deciding to qualify for this event. Perhaps that’s because her mind has been on golf every day regardless.
Preamchuen grew up in Chachoengsao, Thailand, a small city just east of Bangkok. When she came to the United States to play the 2007 Callaway Junior World Championship at Torrey Pines in San Diego, then-Kentucky women’s golf coach Myra Blackwelder followed her for a few holes. To Preamchuen, unfamiliar with the college recruiting process, she thought that meant a scholarship offer would follow. When no call came after several months, Preamchuen reached out.
Kentucky’s roster was full by that point, but Blackwelder was kind enough to suggest other teams that might have a place for an aspiring college player like Preamchuen. Kennesaw State still was searching for a player for the upcoming 2009-10 college season, so Preamchuen bought a one-way ticket to Atlanta.
“I’m still here,” she joked after Saturday’s round, during which she hauled her Kennesaw State bag around Champions and played team balls, too. In the past nine years, she has been back to Thailand only three times – for holidays.
Preamchuen had a decorated career at Kennesaw State, and ended her run with 120 tournaments under her belt, the most for any player in program history. She also led the Owls to a program-first Atlantic Sun Conference Championship and a subsequent NCAA Regional berth in 2012.
When Preamchuen’s undergraduate career ended in May 2014, she stayed on at Kennessaw State to earn her masters in sports management. With her playing eligibility used up, she stayed involved as a graduate assistant coach for two more seasons. During that time, Preamchuen also did an internship with the American Junior Golf Association, which allowed her to learn about tournament operations for the first time.
Preamchuen used the summer of 2014 to explore what a professional career might look like. She made it through the first two stages of LPGA Q-School in 2013 to earn Symetra Tour status for the 2014 season. She played just five events – only making the cut in one – and ultimately banked less than $400. It was eye-opening for a player who had thought her future was in professional golf.
“I changed my mind and went back to school and I’m thinking that playing professional is not my true path,” she said.
Because Preamchuen had played so few tournaments and earned so little money, regaining her amateur status was relatively easy. She was reinstated in May, and has a new attitude about playing the game. It’s sheer happiness.
“I’ve already played professional. It was very stressful, and I didn’t have fun,” she said.
“Playing golf in college was fun sometimes, sometimes too many things going on in my head. Now, we’re here having fun, playing with friends and getting experience. I appreciate every shot.”
Preamchuen remains in Georgia as a P.J. Boatwright intern for the Georgia State Golf Association. She attended the USGA’s Rules of Golf workshop last year, and sees a return trip in her future. She’s currently on a student visa, and within the year must find a company that could sponsor a working visa in a field related to sports management.
If that opportunity materializes, Preamchuen can see herself staying in the U.S. a long time. Besides, she already has contacts here. Going back to Thailand might mean starting over in the golf industry.
So what does that dream job that keeps her in her new home look like? Preamchuen doesn’t quite know. Maybe it’s rules, maybe it’s tournament operations, or some combination. Anything that keeps her involved in the game.
Ultimately, what led to all this dabbling was a passion for the rules displayed by her father back in Thailand. Preamchuen remembers him officiating junior and amateur golf events when she was a child.
“I’ve had this passion (for the rules) since I was in junior golf,” she said.
It has expanded over the years to encompass every aspect of the game. Golf is truly a part of her.