Energetic Kennedy Swedick is on the fast track to become the next Capital Region female superstar on the links. The rising Albany Academy for Girls freshman not only already knows what she wants to do with her life, but she understands how to accomplish those goals. More importantly, she has the tools and the drive to get it done.
At a very young age, Swedick has already achieved some remarkable things in the game. The Albany native and Voorheesville resident represented the Capital Region at the 2017 national Drive, Chip and Putt Championship at Augusta National Golf Club, the home of the Masters. She was just 10 at the time. The thrill of being at one of golf’s legendary courses, surrounded by many of the sport’s stars, was worth the trip, but she made it even better when she chipped in to capture the chipping segment of the girls’ 10-11 age class.
Swedick ended up finishing seventh overall in the three-pronged competition.
“I’d have to say my trip to Augusta is my most memorable achievement so far,” Swedick said. “It’s definitely the highlight of my life.”
But Swedick earned another milestone last October when she became the first Section II girls’ champion at Fairways of Halfmoon Golf Course. Before last season, girls had to compete with the boys for spots on the sectional team for the state championship.
“That’s right up there as far as my accomplishments go,” Swedick said.
The youngster has already piled up numerous area junior titles. Currently, she is competing — and thriving — on the Northeastern New York PGA Junior Tour. She won the girls’ overall title in that tour’s first major of the season Wednesday and Thursday at McGregor Links Country Club with a two-day total of 4-over-par. After shooting 4-over-par in the first round, she rallied to win with an even-par final round that included six birdies overall and four in a row on the front nine. She followed up that effort with a 4-under-par 68 Friday at Schenectady Municipal.
“I would say my career low round so far is a 66 on a par of 72,” Swedick recalled. “I’m not sure how many birdies I’ve had in one round. Maybe eight or nine, but I had some bogeys, too.”
Swedick also picked up another memorable feat on her resume with her first hole-in-one last week during a practice round at Amsterdam Municipal Golf Course. She hit her 54-degree wedge to hole out on the fourth hole.
Although she works equally hard on every part of her game, Swedick says that the big stick is both her favorite and her best weapon.
“It depends on the day, but my driver is the strongest part of my game,” she said. “I would say it’s probably my best both in terms of accuracy and length. I love practicing with my driver on the range.”
Swedick estimates that she can hit her driver between 230 and 240 yards. She strikes her 7-iron between 150 and 160 yards.
But like most good players, Swedick practices diligently with every club.
“Usually, I do my range work first and start with my wedges,” she explained. “I find out my distances for the day. Then I work on my irons. Then I go to my hybrids, and finally to my woods. I want to see how I’m hitting the ball that day. Then, I go to chipping at the putting green. I chip to a spot before I start my putting drills for speed and my line. I would say it probably takes an hour to get it all done.”
Swedick, who takes lessons from both Mill Road Acres head pro Peter Gerard and nationally-awarded instructor Anders Mattson of Saratoga Springs, said she practices five days a week when not playing. This time of year, however, she is playing almost every day.
“My plan is to play most if not all the NENY PGA tournaments, and maybe some AJGA events, but most of them have been canceled already,” she said. “I do plan on playing in the AJGA being played at Windham CC.”
An excellent student in the classroom, as well, Swedick enjoys swimming, reading, playing tennis and working out at least three days a week with her trainer.
“Working out helps me tremendously in terms of distance and then being able to use shorter clubs to the greens,” she said.
Swedick seems to have almost every part of the golfing life figured out at a very early age — even the nerves of elite competition.
“I’m always nervous on the course, but I’ve learned to breathe deeply,” she said. “Plus, everyone I play with is super friendly. I enjoy the time and the friendships on the course. Just having fun on the golf course, focusing on the shots when it’s time to focus, but then enjoying the game between shots is the key,” she said.
Who knows what may happen in the future, but if Swedick’s plans work out, she’ll be playing golf competitively for a long time.
“I’d love to play golf in college,” she said. “Division I golf would be amazing. I always wanted to play at Stanford. That’s my dream college. Later, I hope to be on the LPGA Tour some day.”
I wouldn’t be surprised if Swedick fulfills her dreams. I’ve covered local golfing legend Dottie Pepper of Saratoga (17-time LPGA Tour champion and current television analyst), and Laura Diaz of Scotia (two-time LPGA Tour champion), as well as many others who achieved success in regional championships and in college like Tiffany Maurycy, Betsy Drambour, Kerri Murphy, Bailey Cocca (Czub), Madison Braman and Jenny Buchanan, among many others. They all had that special something, and it appears Swedick has it as well.
NENY PGA JUNIORS
By the way, Swedick is just one of many extremely talented players on the NENY PGA Tour, which has a loaded schedule this summer.
Keep an eye on Clifton Park’s Nicole Criscone, Swedick’s friend and biggest rival in the girls’ division. Criscone is also a former national Drive, Chip and Putt local representative who also attends Albany Academy for Girls. She also is near the top of the leaderboard in every event. Samantha Von Vohr of Loudonville is another young lady making strides in that division.
For the boys, Saratoga Springs graduate AJ Cavotta, a two-time Section II state qualifying medalist, is dominating that division but must look over his shoulder for fellow Saratoga products like Kellen Dean and Ryan Farr, as well as Nick Lyons of Loudonville, Jimmy King of Niskayuna and Ryan Lovelass of Galway.
The remainder of the NENY PGA schedule includes stops at Orchard Creek on July 15-16 for the second major event of the season, a trip to Fairways of Halfmoon July 21, to Western Turnpike July 22, to Amsterdam Municipal July 24, to Albany CC July 29, to Normanside CC July 30, to Colonie Golf Course for another major Aug. 6-7, and to Town of Colonie Golf Course for the NENY PGA Junior Tour Championship Aug. 14-15.
Cobleskill Golf & Country Club’s third annual Schoharie County Open will be played Aug. 8 in four different flights. Members and non-members are eligible to play. Sign-up sheets are available at the Cobleskill G&CC pro shop. The divisions are Open Division (blue tees), Men’s Division (white tees), Senior Division (silver tees, age plus handicap must equal 85) and Women’s Division (red tees). This is a gross tournament, and pairings will be made by the pro shop. For more information, contact the Cobleskill G&CC pro shop at 518-234-4045.
The 33rd annual Shaker Ridge Invitational is set for Aug. 28-30 at Shaker Ridge Country Club. The field is limited to 60 two-man teams with four scratch divisions: Championship, First, Senior (50 and older) and Super Senior (65 and older). Entry fee is $475 per team. For further information, contact the Shaker Ridge CC pro shop (518-869-5101).
Because of COVID-19 travel restrictions, the New York State Golf Association announced that the remaining five championships on its schedule have been cancelled, including the NYS Men’s Amateur, the NYS Men’s Mid-Amateur, the NYS Women’s Amateur & Mid-Amateur, the NYS Boys (18U) Junior Amateur and the NYS Girls (18U) Junior Amateur.
Briar Creek Golf Course’s Cap Com league for retired men is looking for new members. The league plays Thursday mornings at 9 a.m. Players of all abilities are welcome. Currently, players range in age from 60-90. Players can stop by and be a “sub” or try out the league and become a regular member. Contact Dan at [email protected], Norm at [email protected] or just show up on a Thursday.
This year’s Saratoga County Amateur will be played Sept. 18-19 at Eagle Crest Golf Club for the first round and The Edison Club for the final round.
Shaker Ridge Country Club will host the first major event for the Northeastern Women’s Golf Association with the Gail Sykes Better Ball of Two July 20. NEWGA conducts its Mixed 2 Player Scramble July 30 at Windham Country Club.
Catskill Golf Club hosts its annual Catskill Classic July 17-18. Entry fee is $280 per team. The field will be flighted. Call the club at 518-943-0302 to reserve your spot.
Local club pros from the Northeastern New York PGA return to action Monday with their Pro Classic No. 3 at Whiteface Club & Resort and then the Pro Classic No. 4 July 20 at Saratoga Golf & Polo Club.
Retired Siena College security director Ed Forner holed out on the 120-yard ninth hole at Hillcrest Golf Course this week while competing in the Glenville Senior Center Golf League.
At Airway Meadows Golf Club, Jackson Katusha, 17, used an 8-iron for his first-ever hole-in-one on the 173-yard ninth hole.
During the club’s annual Member-Member Independence Day Weekend Tournament, Larry Gloeckler posted his third career ace with a pitching wedge on the 97-yard sixth hole at Normanside Country Club.
At Pinehaven Country Club, Ryan Shanklin used a 9-iron for his hole-in-one on the 140-yard ninth hole.
At Normanside Country Club, Bruce McCaughin recorded his third career hole-in-one, acing the 135-yard third hole with a 7-iron.
Clyde Driggers chipped in for an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole at Mechanicville Golf Club.
Bill Roarke eagled the par-5 11th hole at Mohawk River Country Club while playing in the Bent Iron league.
Reach Bob Weiner at [email protected] or @BobWeiner58 on Twitter.