Senior Kaitlyn Papp looks back at her time at Texas

Brittany Archer

Editor's Note: This story first appeared in The Daily Texan's March 9 print edition.

When senior Kaitlyn Papp first picked up a pair of clubs as a six-year-old, she used the sport to spend time with her family.

“My family and I were living in Japan at the time because my dad was in the Navy,” Papp said. “He would bring me out occasionally just to have someone tag along with him.”

After turning 10, Papp developed a passion for golf and started to enter tournaments in the American Junior Golf Association. Along the way, she would meet future Texas golf teammates Emilee Hoffman and Maddie Luitwieler. 

“We got to know each other pretty well in junior golf,” Hoffman said. “But I would say we became really close when (Papp) got (into) Texas, and she, you know, became  — and still is — one of my really close friends.”

Luitwieler and Papp formed a special bond during the two years they spent together on the Texas women’s golf team. Their close relationship allowed them to learn from and lean on each other as practice partners.

“We (would) just pop ideas off of each other and (I’d) say, ‘How do I fit this better with more spin?’ And she would be like, ‘Oh, this is what I do.’ And then she would ask me putting questions, and I would tell her what I do,” Luitwieler said. “It was kind of just us going back and forth, but it was nice to have someone out there just to keep you motivated.

After being named twice to the All-Big 12 Conference team, Papp’s hard work came to fruition when her No.19 spot in the World Amateur Golf Rankings automatically qualified her for the 2020 U.S. Women’s Open in Houston.

“It was definitely a goal of mine to prequalify in 2019, because in 2018 I got a second alternate,” Papp said. “Then when I got in the field this year from the amateur rankings, I was definitely really excited for the opportunity.”

Ultimately Papp tied for ninth place, which earned her low-amateur honors. Her top-ten finish in Houston granted her an automatic invitation to the 2021 U.S. Open field.

While Papp is well known for her excellent play on the course, her former teammates are quick to note that her leadership and charm are what really set her apart from others.

"She just had a really strong work ethic. And it's contagious,” Hoffman said. “She motivates all of us to push ourselves and work hard and be the best we can, but not in a forced way. I would say it's really natural. … She has that personality, she leads by example.” 

As her career at Texas comes to a close, Papp is looking forward to accomplishing her ultimate goal: becoming a professional golfer. Luitwieler has no doubts that Papp will have a successful professional career. 

“Kaitlyn is just very determined and that has been her dream since she was very young,” Luitwieler said. “I think Texas has allowed her to grow into where she needs to be to be a professional golfer.”