The Golf Coaches Association of America, in cooperation with its long-time corporate partner, the NGA Pro Golf TOUR, will feature a monthly Q&A with former collegians who are currently playing the NGA TOUR. Long considered the premier developmental tour in the United States, thousands of former college players have started their professional careers there. More than 250 NGA TOUR alumni have or continue to play on the PGA TOUR.
This month we speak with Trent Whitekiller. Whitekiller played collegiately at the Oklahoma State University. He has seven top-10 and three top-5 finishes on the NGA TOUR this year, including finishing second at the Killearn Country Club Classic in February.
Q: What would you say was your best experience playing collegiality at Oklahoma State?
In addition to my two (2) collegiate wins I would say that the camaraderie with fellow classmates and the guys on the team made my time at OSU most memorable.
Q: What is the biggest adjustment you had to make going from college to professional golf?
In college, everything was handled for us; all that was required of me was to show up on time for workouts, class, and practice. All of our travel entry for tournaments, i.e. the entry fees, travel arrangements and travel expense, was taken care of. Now, I have to keep up with entry deadlines and make sure that I am entered into every event I want to compete in and I don’t have a private jet to travel from tournament to tournament, I have to drive everywhere.
Q: Were you able to get advice from some of your college teammates or friends on what the transition to professional golf would be like? What advice would you share with those players making that change?
My biggest hurdle was finance. When I first started playing professionally, I would put pressure on myself to do well, because I didn’t have the finances readily available to me, nor did I have a sponsor financing my entry fees or travel expenses. So the best advice that was given to me was to stop worrying about the money. I learned that if I take care of my business on and off the course the rest will fall in place.
Q: What experiences as a student, outside of golf, do you think helped prepare you for life as a professional golfer?
Time management and self-discipline in and out of the classroom. I learned how to manage my time between school and golf and still found time to have a social life. Good time management helped me learn to take care of all of my business and left me much needed time to enjoy being a college student.
Q: What is the favorite golf hole you got the chance to play in college?
I would have to say that the 17th hole at Purdue’s Kampen Course, during the final round of the National Championship my sophomore year.
Q: What is your favorite part about playing as a touring professional?
You’re kidding right? The best thing about being a professional golfer is that I get to play golf for a living…. There is no greater feeling than waking up every morning knowing that I get to do what I love for a living.
Q: What is the most important thing for you when you practice?
Most of my practice is done on the golf course; I don’t spend much time on the range, but when I do, I try to make it as efficient as possible by practicing with a purpose.
Q: What is your earliest memory of playing golf?
My earliest memory of playing golf is when my dad would pick me up from kindergarten when I was 5 years old and he would take me to the golf course to play with him and his friends.
Q: What do you like to do in your downtime off the course?
I occasionally like to sleep in and just relax; I also enjoy fishing or playing basketball with the local men’s group that meets twice a week.
Q: Several alumni of the NGA Tour have gone on to enjoy great success on both the PGA and European Tours. What about the NGA Tour prepares golfers for continued success as they progress through their careers?
As this is my first year to play on the NGA Tour, I would have to say that the competition out here is by far the best out of the mini tours that I have played. When I play against other great talent, it only makes me work harder at improving my physical and mental game.