From Waukee to the PGA Tour – Tripp Kinney Preps for the John Deere Classic
The Waukee Boys Golf program is on one of the best runs in high school history. Year after year, golfer after golfer, the Warriors reach an elite level. In two weeks, it’s a whole new level. Tripp Kinney (Waukee Class of 2016) will play in the John Deere Classic, the first ever Waukee golfer to play in a PGA Tour event.
“It’s something that I grew up dreaming of,” says Kinney. “To be the first one from Waukee, it’s special because there are a lot of guys that came before me that taught me and I learned how to be a better golfer.”
Tripp’s always been a great golfer, but there was a moment at Waukee when he was told he wasn’t good enough. That moment completely changed his life on the links.
“I was really trying hard to make the team as a freshman, but unfortunately I just missed out,” says Kinney. “I love Coach Kotz. He always comes to me and says I made the biggest mistake of my life not putting you on the team. I said coach, that’s the best thing that ever happened to me. It made me work so much harder, I didn’t want to be on the sidelines for a team doing so well again.”
Tripp’s work was worth it. He was on varsity the next three years, receiving all-state honors all three times. In 2015, he was the state’s high school player of the year. The Warriors also won two team state titles.
“Coach Kotz, Coach Ohl, those guys know exactly what they are doing,” says Kinney. “Coach Kotz knew exactly what he needed to do to get players ready for the end of the season, he made us compete all the time.”
After Waukee, Tripp traveled to Ames where he became a four-time NCAA regional qualifier and has played more collegiate rounds than anybody else at Iowa State.
“One thing that I’m so proud of is that I’ve been able to continue to get better. From my freshman year of high school to now my senior year, I’ve been lucky because there’s been a steady progression,” says Kinney.
Now that progress ramps up to a level Tripp hasn’t seen before, the PGA Tour. No matter how good you are, hitting that first tee shot against the best golfers in the world, will bring some nervous moments.
“It’s going to be special,” says Kinney. “I’m going to be super nervous, hopefully just make contact with that golf ball, get out and play my own game. It will be something I’ve never really experienced before.”
With the world watching, there might be a youngster dreaming the same dreams as Tripp. Kinney’s advice, even if you miss the team your freshman year, keep dreaming.
“Hard work solved all of my problems,” says Kinney.” Put in the time, put in the effort, whether you realize it or not, people see that and results will come as well.”
But back to the PGA Tour. It’s going to be a wild week for the former Waukee star, but Tripp says, he’s ready for the challenge.
“I want to enjoy the week and I want to play as good of golf as I possibly can,” says Kinney. “Just enjoy it, play good golf and see where I stack up against the best golfers in the world.”