Augusta James Preps For Life As A Pro

Augusta James is inching closer to LPGA Tour status for 2016- (File Photo Photo Bernard Brault, Golf Canada)
Augusta James - (File Photo Photo Bernard Brault, Golf Canada)
Augusta James – (File Photo Photo Bernard Brault, Golf Canada)

The time has arrived for Augusta James.  The Bath, Ontario golfer, and reigning Canadian Women’s Amateur champion, is set to become a professional.  She shared her career intentions with her local newspaper, The Kingston Whig-Standard, in December, and expanded on it Tuesday in a Golf Canada national media teleconference.

For those that know “Gus”, as she is fondly known to many, the 21 year-old’s decision was not a matter of “if” but more of “when” she would make the leap from the amateur ranks. She is smart enough to know the timing had to be right…for her.

Having earned Symetra Tour status recently at LPGA TOUR qualifying school, the 3-time All ACC honouree is halting her stay at North Carolina State University mid Senior year (she plans to complete the neccessary 12 credit hours for her degree via correspondence) and hitting the road in search of a golf paycheque.

As she does so she knows the greater portion of her journey lays ahead, becoming a pro is not the pinnacle. She has never been one to settle for the here and now.

The continuing theme since Flagstick first met her at a junior tournament almost a decade ago was that she was always trying to get better.

On a fairway at the Cataraqui Golf and Country Club in Kingston, Ontario the pre-teen was under the watchful eye of PGA of Canada member Kevin Dickey.  That day he called her a “sponge” for golf knowledge.

He knew she was special.

He was right.

Her mention of needing to improve would be repeated frequently over the years.

Junior, regional, provincial, and eventually national events that followed would see her reach the top of the leaderboard. And often, even as she held the trophy, she would bring up the desire to keep adding to her skill set. If the top echelon of the sport was where she was headed, there was more work to be done. It was not something she was afraid of. She seemed to welcome the challenge.

Not much has changed.

Well, some things have.  The shy 12 year-old has blossomed into a seasoned professional with media savvy to match her on-course talents.  It was on full display during Tuesday’s call with the media.

“I’m super excited about turning pro…I leave in for fourteen days for my first event and I cannot wait for it,” James conveyed at the start of her 22 minute media session.

“I’m really excited to get my pro career underway and I’ve been working hard to achieve these goals.”

Augusta immediately made time to thank all the people who had supported her to this point. That included Dickey, still the Teaching Professional at Cataraqui, who she is currently working with to develop practice plans. To supplement that, and due to the fact she is based in North Carolina now while Dickey is still back in Canada, she is working with Charlotte-based LPGA member Karen Palacios-Jansen for swing and fitness development.

“I’ll never stop learning about the game of golf, I can guarantee that,” the new pro commented regarding the years of her years of guidance by various people including Cathy Sherk, Women’s National Team Coach Tristan Mullally and mentor Marlene Stewart Streit.   “To have these coaches influence me in a positive way and help me along has been fantastic.  I’ve been fortunate to work with people of a high calibre.”

Thoughtfully James added in a laundry list of thank you nods to family (including brother Austin, the 2014 Canadian Junior Boys’ Champion) and a myriad of people who have always cheered her on including those at her home club, the Loyalist Country Club, during the call.

Questioned about the timing of her decision to turn pro, it is clear that it was one that was well thought out. James’ play in December at Q-School helped made the picture of her future even clearer.

“This is my time to take advantage of the opportunity I created for myself through Q-School. And I really felt like this was the right path for me at the time. And I wanted to be sure I was making a decision I fully committed to. I didn’t want to waiver on either side or regret anything so I’m really happy I came to this conclusion with how I wanted my career to go.”

The former National team member and top ranked amateur says her main focus this season will be the Symetra Tour with hopes for a smattering of LPGA starts via qualifying and possible exemptions.

Augusta will make her first pro start on the Symetra Tour in Longbow, Arizona on February 20th.  She’ll back that up with another Symetra Tour event the following week in California.