Golf: Return to links ‘refreshing’ for Highland Park resident Kopsick
Kyle Kopsick is representing the Exmoor Country Club in the Western Amateur. | Todd Van Emst photo
Updated: September 3, 2012 12:37PM
HIGHLAND PARK — Golf is fun again for Kyle Kopsick.
That wasn’t the case too long ago for the North Shore native.
Kopsick played out his senior year at Auburn University as if he was digging a grave for his game.
“I didn’t enjoy it,” said Kopsick, who grew up in Lake Bluff and now lives in Highland Park. “I really struggled. I was used to traveling and playing in tournaments, and that all changed my senior year. It was a strange adjustment for me.”
Fast-forward a couple of months, and Kopsick has resurrected his love for the sport; he’s representing the Exmoor Country Club in the Western Amateur.
“This summer’s been great,” said the 22-year-old Kopsick, who caddies at Knollwood Country Club in Lake Forest. “I’m not playing as much, but I have fun when I play. This is refreshing for me, and I’m not taking it for granted.”
Kopsick, who learned the game from his father, Joe, is playing in his fourth Western Amateur, and his dad is serving as his caddie.
“You could say this is a pretty nice way to close a chapter,” the younger Kopsick said.
After attending high school at The Pendleton School in Bradenton, Fla., Kopsick went on to play golf at Auburn, where he competed against some of the country’s best players for four seasons.
Kopsick played 32 tournaments in his first three seasons. He won the Gary Koch Invitational in 2009 and was named to the all-SEC second team a year later.
But Kopsick’s run ended in his final year when the Tigers carried more a dozen players on the roster. Battling a slump, Kopsick couldn’t crack the lineup and failed to play in a tournament as a senior.
“A new coach came in and brought in a bunch of new players,” he said. “The team improved, and there was no more limping into the lineup with 14 guys on the team. You couldn’t just play OK anymore.”
Such circumstances forced Kopsick to take a long look at his future in the game. He considered all of his options and decided to step away from competitive golf, with the exception of playing in the 2012 Western Amateur.
“I’ve been playing golf for so long, and I have no regrets about anything,” he said. “There’s no bitter relationship, but I feel like it’s time to try something else. Maybe there’s more to life than to playing golf? I took a step back to think if golf is really something I wanted to do.”
A history major in college, Kopsick recently became certified to teach English as a foreign language. He said he’s almost positive he will be working in Costa Rica by September.
“I am treating this as something I want to do,” he said. “Maybe later I will get a Ph.D. and teach at the university level — at least that’s the plan for now.”
Although Kopsick isn’t retiring from the game, Western Amateur signals the end of a significant era of his life. He’s not sure when he will play again at the same level.
The bonus is teeing it up at Exmoor Country Club, where he’s been a longtime member. He also lives in the condominiums on the property behind the driving range.
“It’s a great tournament, a big tournament,” Kopsick said. “I’ve had some success at it, and I love the tournament. I’m sure I will be nervous, but I don’t feel this weight on my shoulders like I need to play well. I think I can be competitive and do it, but I have a different mindset about it.”