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The GCAA Interviews NGA Pro Golf Tour Member Ken Looper

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 Pro Golf 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 Pro Golf Tour alumni have or continue to play on the PGA Tour.

This month's featured player is Ken Looper. After transferring to LSU for his senior season following an outstanding three-year career at the University of New Orleans, Looper played in 10 tournaments in 2010-11 as a Tiger, earning two top-five finishes, four top-10 finishes and six top-20 finishes. Looper was also named a PING All-Southeast Region performer in 2011.

Since joining the NGA TOUR, Looper has picked up a win on the Bridgestone Winter Series and the NGA TOUR Pro Series. In 14 starts, Looper has made 11 cuts and picked up six top-10 finishes.

Q: Ken, you have gotten off to an outstanding start in your first season of NGA play including wins in both the Winter Series and the NGA Professional Golf Tour. What has aided in your transition to success so quickly on the professional level?

I don’t want to say it was easy, because that would be arrogant. I guess for me it was a lot more relaxed atmosphere than college, and it didn’t hurt that I won a couple times very early on the NGA TOUR.

Q: After your junior season you transferred from New Orleans to LSU. As a senior you were an all-region selection and helped the Tigers advance to the NCAA Championships. Did this move and the achievements you reached as an individual and a team help in your confidence after turning professional?

I think it did. I had a lot more teammates that were contending every week and the qualifying rounds weren’t a cakewalk anymore. During my senior year, I got a lot better as the season went on.

Q: What has been the biggest adjustment between college and professional golf?

You have to know how to manage your time and pack for three weeks.

Q: One issue that college golfers do not have to face on a weekly basis is the business side of the industry. How has this impacted your approach to the game?

It seems a little easy for me. When every shot means money, you tend to have a lot more focus on your game. I don’t know if it’s like that for everybody, but that’s how I approach it.

Q: What experiences outside of golf have impacted your life since leaving LSU?

I think not being in school has allowed me to have more time to focus on my game. In school, you’ve got classes and projects that you have to worry about. Without that, I’ve been able to put more time into golf, and I’ve gotten better that way.

Q: Having played a year of professional golf is there anything you would have done differently in college to help prepare you and your game for the next level?

I would work on my wedge game a lot more, but that’s about it. You’re not going to hit it to two feet every time, but when you’ve got a wedge in your hand you’ve got to make the most of it as a professional.

Q: The recent changes to PGA Tour Q-School will have a huge impact on college players and players competing on developmental tours. As a recent collegiate player and current developmental tour professional how do you think this impacts young players trying to reach their goal of competing on the PGA Tour?

I would say it discourages players that don’t have the money or backing to compete on a developmental tour. But at the same time, it’s going to help the Tour and bring more money to that tour.

Q: Several alumni of the NGA Professional Golf Tour have gone on to great success on the PGA Tour, Tour, and even the European Tour. What about the NGA TOUR prepares golfers for continued success as they progress through their careers?

You have to play above and beyond well to win out here. In every tournament, there are always a bunch of guys that play well. As an amateur, you could do OK, and top three. It’s not like that on the NGA TOUR.

Q: Finally, what advice would you impart to college and junior golfers dreaming of a career in professional golf?

You have to be out here competing and not thinking about the money, or the results of the money. Play the best you can and never give up.

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