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On behalf of the entire Golfweek organization, I want to thank you for your membership of the Golfweek Amateur Tour.  We are incredibly proud of our relationship with what we feel is the best option for organized amateur competition for folks like you and me. 

I am writing to inform you of some changes to our magazine frequency and format for 2021. Our plan is to publish four issues in 2021 including our annual Golfweek’s Best in April and Ultimate Guide in December. In addition to these two issues, we will publish a new issue called Get Equipped in February that will highlight everything new in the game for 2021 including equipment, gear, places to visit and more. The second new issue is titled Golf Life in July and will feature in-depth stories and interviews with the movers, shakers and personalities that drive the business and sport of golf. We are excited about the new schedule and plan to bring the same style of expert, in-depth journalism that you expect from Golfweek..

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Where to play golf in + around Lexington

Whether you’re a weekend warrior or the next tiger woods, these 14 golf courses in lexington are sure to make for a good round..

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Golfers walking along a hilly golf course.

Kearney Hills Golf Links. | Photo courtesy of @lexkyparks

We can’t think of a better way to soak in Lexington’s greenspace than spending some time on the links. Whether you’re looking to connect outdoors with friends or you’re honing in on the perfect swing, here are 14 golf courses to make a tee time at in the Horse Capital of the World.

Public courses

Gay Brewer, Jr. Course at Picadome , 469 Parkway Dr. | Picadome was built in 1927 and became the first public golf course in central Kentucky. It’s open year-round except for Christmas Day.

Kearney Hill Golf Links , 3403 Kearney Rd. | This Scottish links-style course has served as a host site for the PGA Boys and Girls Junior Championships, so you know its in good shape.

Lakeside Golf Course , 3725 Richmond Rd. | Enjoy unlimited range balls at this ~185 course adjacent to Jacobson Park. It features large greens, rolling terrain, as well as a pro shop + snack bar.

Meadowbrook Golf Course , 360 Wilson Downing Rd. | This course is walking only, takes around two hours to play, and is Lexington’s only short course with holes ranging in length from 87 to 270 yards.

Tates Creek Golf Course , 1400 Gainesway Dr. | Located on 125 acres in the heart of the Gainesway subdivision, this course features tight fairways and water hazards, as well as a short game practice area, a golf shop, and snack bar.

An aerial shot of Idle Hour Country Club

Idle Hour Country Club. | Photo by @switzerfilm + @switzerfilmweddings

Members only courses

Connemara , 2327 Lexington Rd., Nicholasville | Memberships are available, but the public is also welcome at this Jessamine County course which boasts manicured greens + Bill’s Saloon .

Griffin Gate Golf Club , 1800 Newtown Pike | This Lexington mainstay has a firm, yet fair + fun course. Choose from a variety of membership options like walking only, unlimited cart pass, and add on other amenities including resort or pool passes.

Keene Trace Golf Club, 5600 Harrodsburg Rd. | Home to the PGA TOUR Barbasol Championship tournament since 2018, this club boasts 36 holes. Plus, this “home away from home” features heated swimming pools, a pool house, bar + grill, and two hard tennis courts.

University Club of Kentucky , 4850 Leestown Rd. | Memberships are available, but the public is also invited to check out the ~14,000 yards of professionally maintained greens, plush fairways + sculpted bunkers that make up the two courses.

Lexington Country Club , 2550 Paris Pike | The ultimate golfer’s dream, LCC boasts an 18-hole, par 72 course, a driving range, a putting green, and a chipping/bunker green. There’s a spot halfway along the course for mid-play break with snacks, beverages, and restrooms.

Idle Hour Country Club , 1815 Richmond Rd. | This invitation only, private country club was founded in 1946 + consists of a clubhouse, dining facilities, golf course, tennis courts, fitness center, and swimming pool. Once you arrive, the golf pros will direct you to the locker room while setting up your cart for a day on the links.

Greenbrier Golf & Country Club , 2179 Bahama Rd. | This course was the host of the Children’s Charity Classic, a nationally recognized celebrity-amateur golf fundraiser. With expertly-maintained grounds and special activities for members, Greenbrier has become a local fan favorite.

Take it indoors

District 7 Social , 1170 Manchester St., Ste. 160 | If you’re hankering for more but can’t handle the weather, have no fear. At District 7 Social, you can enjoy access to golf simulators, as well as duckpin bowling, German food, and specially curated drinks at the bar.

The Yard , 117 West Hampton Dr. | If you can dream it, you can play it here at Lexington’s premier indoor sports facility. The PGA Tour Simulator will have you practicing your swing + angles on the driving range or play a round on classic courses from around the world.

Bluegrass Golf Academy , 2560 Palumbo Dr. Ste. 110 | Whether it’s your first time swinging a club, or you’re ready to take your game to the next level, this indoor coaching + practice facility has private instruction, small group for any type of golfer.

An aerial shot of Lexington.


The $25m fraudster who came so close to buying an English football club

In the first of our series about the men who want to buy English football clubs, this is the remarkable story of Chris Kirchner, who came close to taking over Derby County and was then found guilty of fraud and money laundering.

This week, we will examine five prospective investors and what their interest in English football says about their ambitions and the game itself.

Valentine’s Day 2023 and, just after dawn, Chris Kirchner’s world begins to crumble.

A group of FBI agents have arrived at the gates of his family home in Westlake, Texas, less than a mile from the exclusive Vaquero Country Club, and begin seizing the trappings of his wealth.

A Rolls-Royce Cullinan and a Mercedes-Benz G-Class are among the items confiscated, along with five luxury watches and a Cartier necklace. Close to $600,000 (£475,000 at today’s rates) is taken from personal accounts in Kirchner’s name, as well as artwork and 57 bottles of wine.


The FBI arrested Kirchner too, issuing charges of wire fraud after alleging he had sent millions of dollars from the accounts of Slync, a software start-up he founded in 2017, to his personal account. A $16million Gulfstream jet was among the many things bought with the money of others.

Derby County, the English Football League ( EFL ) club crowned champions of England in 1972 under Brian Clough, had almost become another of his assets.

Nine months before his arrest in the United States, Kirchner still believed he could close out a takeover to rescue the club from administration. He had been named the preferred bidder, considered by administrator Quantuma as the man most likely to prevent Derby from going under. He had been depicted as the club’s saviour, drawing the acclaim of fans.

Like so much of Kirchner’s life, however, it was destined to collapse.

A “life of luxury” had been built by misappropriating his company’s funds. At Kirchner’s four-day trial, held in January this year, evidence showed he had converted at least $25million in investor money to his personal use.

A jury found Kirchner guilty of four counts of wire fraud and a further seven counts of money laundering. Sentencing will take place on July 11 and, already denied bail, he is facing a maximum prison term of 150 years.

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The fall of Kirchner has been sudden and spectacular. That he came so close to buying Derby, just a few months after walking away from a similar deal to purchase Preston North End , another Championship club, already seems fanciful.

Kirchner, though, forms part of a broader problem. English football, flush with money, continues to attract the wrong kind of would-be investors. Fraudsters, fantasists and charlatans are queuing up.

“Years ago, it was what sort of car or house do you have?” as one person working at an EFL club put it. “Today, it’s about more. Football clubs are attractive. It’s the one thing that gives you real credibility. The worldwide success of English football makes owning a club a trophy to have.”

Kirchner will not be the first or the last. Many others attempt to squeeze through the vetting process to become football club owners, pushing for control of teams that are better off without the interest.

“He went down this Walter Mitty path and never really had any touch with reality,” says one well-placed source in the deal to buy Derby who, like others in this piece, remain anonymous to protect relationships.

In a Fort Worth courthouse, Kirchner’s reality came crashing down.

Until the gilded walls fell in around him, it could never be said that Kirchner lacked credibility.

He was a young (still only 36), ambitious American, the bold chief executive of Slync, a tech start-up company backed by Goldman Sachs. Within four years of launching in San Francisco’s Silicon Valley, thanks to growth propelled by the Covid-19 pandemic, Slync had been valued at $240million by investors and employed more than 100 staff members.

Kirchner purposely positioned himself as the company’s figurehead and took Slync to places he, as a golf obsessive, wished to go. Justin Rose, the former world No 1 golfer, was among the company’s first commercial sponsorships and was paid $2million annually. That path led Slync towards becoming a lead sponsor of the Dubai Desert Classic in 2021 in a multi-million dollar agreement.

The aim was to grow Slync’s brand but Kirchner enjoyed the perks that came with it. He was pictured playing golf with Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy and would turn out in tournaments, including the illustrious JP McManus Pro-Am at Adare Manor in Ireland.


Kirchner was there in 2022 leading Team Slync three weeks before he was fired from his position as chief executive and removed from the company’s board of directors.

Plenty appeared to be taken in by Kirchner’s front, including Yasir Al-Rumayyan, governor of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), chairman of Newcastle United and another golf enthusiast.

Kirchner visited the Centurion Golf Club in St Albans, on the outskirts of London, in June 2022, where he had a place in the LIV Golf pro-am tournament, a curtain raiser to the Saudi-backed tour’s inaugural event. Sergio Garcia and Ian Poulter, the high-profile European pair, were among Kirchner’s playing partners over 18 holes.

“I saw with my own eyes the rapport he had with Yasir Al-Rumayyan that day at LIV,” said Nigel Owen, formerly the spokesperson of the Black and White Together Derby fans group, who was invited by Kirchner to the Centurion GC.

“We came off the fifth or sixth green and, between there and the next tee, there were two huge blokes stood there, bouncers almost. They part and there’s this little guy behind them and then it twigged with me who it was.

“Chris and Al-Rumayyan greeted one another like long-lost friends. It was a bear hug. If you’re in my shoes, as someone who wanted someone to come and buy Derby County, I’m watching him with people like that and I’m thinking, ‘This guy must be legit’.”

A large media presence was on site to cover the start of golf’s disruptive new era and Kirchner was caught off guard when walking to the clubhouse. Updates on Derby’s takeover were sought amid reports of its collapse. “No comment on that,” he said.

“It’ll come out soon” Chris Kirchner told me last week as he declined to answer our questions about his bid to buy Derby County @dcfcofficial as he finished a round of golf Tonight the US businessman has withdrawn from the process to buy the stricken club out of administration — Dan Roan (@danroan) June 13, 2022

Owen, though, was given a different reading on the state of play.

“It was within an hour of that moment he told me that it was done,” he remembers. “The transfer had been made and it was done. I spent the next hour with him in the clubhouse with Phil Mickelson at the next table. He (Kirchner) was ringing people saying it was done. I went away from there believing the money had been transferred. It was all going through.”

Derby, by then, were desperate. Close to nine months had been spent in administration after long-standing owner Mel Morris had pulled the plug on his financial support, triggering points deductions and an inevitable relegation from the Championship.

The future of the club hung in the balance and Kirchner, named as the preferred bidder by administrators in April 2022, offered the only visible promise of salvation. Yet Kirchner always seemed more interested in publicity and acclaim than getting on with the business of making it happen.

While it might have been anticipated that Kirchner would initiate talks with Morris, the American showed little interest in getting around a table with the owner. Morris had become a hate figure for many Derby fans and Kirchner used that to strengthen his position, repeatedly criticising and questioning the man who held the keys to the club.


How buying Gary Neville's house increased Venky's Blackburn Rovers problems

Morris had suspicions about Kirchner and did not appreciate the American’s hostile and standoffish approach. Nor did it escape his attention that few prospective football club owners gave a running commentary on social media.

Kirchner was certainly fond of the spotlight. Over several weeks and months, he interacted with supporters on digital platforms, pledging to fix their stricken club. There was even an interview with Derby’s in-house media. “It kinda feels like home to me,” he said, likening Derby’s vista to “the rolling hills” of his hometown Lexington, Kentucky.

Kirchner attended several home matches across the 2021-22 season and waved to supporters from his padded seat. He would visit pubs on a matchday, accompanied by his wife Ali, and pose for pictures.

Kirchner also met players and staff at the club’s Moor Farm training complex, wearing Derby-branded clothing. Forward Tom Lawrence was pictured visiting Kirchner at his home in Dallas during the summer break.

“Derby were looking for a man of the people and he gave that impression,” says Chris Poulter, former leader of Derby City Council, who was pictured with Kirchner at the Peacock pub before a home game late in the 2021-22 season.

Kirchner had made it his business to ingratiate himself with the council. “He’d completely got them wrapped around his little finger,” says one of the key players in the proposed takeover. “He had charmed them into thinking he was the guy to take Derby forward.”

“It wasn’t for me or any supporter to do due diligence on whether he actually had the money or where it had come from,” says Poulter. “That was down to the administrators and the league. He was being put forward as the preferred bidder and we had no option but to support him in finishing the job.”

What followed bordered on the tragicomic. At 8.45am one Sunday, Morris took a call from an intermediary, a banker, to suggest that it might be worthwhile for the two parties to start communicating.

Kirchner followed that up with a letter to introduce himself and explain that he wanted to buy the club. Morris wrote back to say he found it surprising that it was their first contact but made it clear he was willing to get down to the nitty-gritty of making it happen.

Morris and Kirchner, it transpired, used the same bank. But when the transfer from Kirchner’s account didn’t arrive, there was a stream of excuses.

In a remarkable exchange, an exasperated Morris ended up instructing Kirchner’s camp that, if necessary, he could pass on instructions about how to log on, which page to find, which buttons to press, and how to send evidence of attempted transfers.

But the money was never sent and Morris was left with the overwhelming feeling that the whole operation had been a waste of time. He and Kirchner had not spoken once during the whole process.

Quantuma, the club’s administrator, was not the only party misled. Kirchner worked with Garry Cook, formerly Manchester City’s chief executive and now of Birmingham City , during the negotiations, as well as Paul Stretford, the agent of Derby’s then-manager Wayne Rooney, who called Kirchner “a very good businessman” in October 2021.


There was an undoubted veneer of believability about Kirchner. He had hired the respected legal firm Squire Patton Boggs and senior partner David Hull to act on his behalf during negotiations, and background checks undertaken by the EFL indicated there was no reason to doubt Kirchner had the finances to proceed. The backing of Merrill Lynch and Goldman Sachs also helped entrench the American’s plausibility.

Rooney offered his public endorsement, too. The manager was popular with the fans and that immediately gave Kirchner an extra layer of respectability.

So convinced of Kirchner’s credentials was Stretford that Triple S, a company where he is listed as a director, stepped in to cover a monthly wage bill of £1.6million in May 2022. That move was investigated by the English Football Association but it says no further action was deemed appropriate.

Stretford would later begin legal proceedings against Kirchner in an attempt to claw back that £1.6million. A winding-up petition against 9CK Sports Holdings, a now-dormant company of which Kirchner is the sole director, was lodged two days after the American’s arrest in February 2023. Triple S was listed as the claimant but that pursuit has been unsuccessful so far.

Triple S said in a statement: “In May 2022, the Triple S Group provided a short-term bridging loan to Chris Kirchner and 9CK. At no point did the Triple S Group provide funding directly to Derby. Recovery of this loan is subject to an ongoing legal process in the UK and U.S. — as such, no further comment can be made.

“The Triple S Group voluntarily disclosed all information to the FA and cooperated with them fully throughout the entire process. The Triple S Group has been open and transparent about this matter from the start.”

Stretford and Cook had also been present for Kirchner’s very public pursuit of Preston at the start of 2022. Cook initiated the contact between the two parties once an initial interest in Derby had subsided in the final weeks of 2021 and, by mid-February, Kirchner attended a home game against Huddersfield Town at Deepdale.

Then came a bid that proposed Kirchner take control of Preston from the club’s long-standing local owners, the Hemmings family. There was a deal to be done at the right price and a willing seller.

There was even broad agreement but Kirchner chose to walk away and back towards Derby. “Ever buy a car?” he would later ask in a social media Q&A. “If someone raises the price halfway through the deal by 10 per cent over what you agreed then wants to force you to buy options and packages you don’t want/need with the car, would you buy it?”


Preston were not amused and, privately, considered Kirchner to be a tyre kicker. The club issued a pointed statement, purposely making no reference to the American.

“The most important point to make absolutely clear is that contrary to suggestions in the public domain, we never increased the asking price from the price and terms included in the originally agreed offer,” it said.

Kirchner was considered a “chancer” by some of those who worked on the deal at Preston. An offer had been made but no proof of funds was ever shown.

“Then he goes back to Derby and says he knew all along it was a bigger club than Preston,” said one figure at the club. “Cheeky.”

Kirchner never hid his ambitions to find a route to professional sport. Golf topped his interests but he followed English football intently. Kirchner claimed it was part of his family upbringing

“When I joined the company, his story was that he was a lifelong fan of Chelsea , that he was open to sponsoring a hospitality suite at Chelsea’s stadium,” Matt Gunn, formerly chief marketing officer at Slync, tells The Athletic.

Kirchner had his eyes on a much bigger outlay by the spring of 2022. “When he went to purchase Derby County, he told his executive leaders, myself included, that it was a personal pursuit he was doing outside of the business and it wasn’t business money,” adds Gunn.

“He said it was a lifelong dream of his to own a football club. To avoid the perception it was a distraction, he even told staff on an all-hands call to the company.”

There were already misgivings within Slync that Kirchner’s apparent commitment to growing the company’s brand was causing a financial strain. Sponsorship of Dubai Desert Classic, a flagship event for golf’s European Tour, had been announced in September 2021 on a multi-year arrangement that would eventually be scrapped 12 months later. There was also a commercial deal with NHL ’s Dallas Stars, with Slync unable to maintain payments by June 2022. It is estimated that project commitments for sports marketing ran to almost $60million.


“We all knew there was a lot of expense involved,” says Gunn. “He was the sole decision maker for the sports sponsorships — the hockey, the golf, the trips to the Masters — and ran those almost as though they were a separate division of the company.

“It was his way of making a bet. Software wasn’t sold by software alone. He thought it was about making big relationships with people.

“Come and play a round of golf with Justin Rose or take them to watch a big tournament like the Dubai Desert Classic. I don’t believe any of his sports interactions led to a single dollar of revenue.”

Kirchner came to be seen as a contradiction by employees; the man who helped build up Slync and the man whose actions threatened to bring it down. There was no questioning his short-term successes as the company’s chief executive, bringing in $57.2m in two funding rounds. Kirchner presented himself as a personable leader on the good days but those who spent time in his company could not miss the little shows of wealth.

“The first time I met him in person was when I flew to Dallas for some meetings with executives and Chris decided to pick us up for lunch in a bright red Ferrari,” says Gunn. “That was pretty unusual for me. He showed me his Richard Mille watch, which he told me he had to speak to a financial advisor before purchasing because it was so expensive.”

Plenty who crossed paths with Kirchner considered him ostentatious.

“One time after a round, there were 10 or so of us in the locker room,” says one close associate from the Vaquero Club, “and he said, ‘OK I need to go pick up my friend in Kentucky on my jet, then we’re flying back here. Does anyone want to come with me, drink bourbon and play cards?’.

“He always loved to talk about his money, where he was on his jet, what elite private course he was playing, name dropping celebrities and athletes left and right like they were his best friends.”

Yet, tellingly, there was also an enigmatic streak to Kirchner. He would claim his source of wealth was cryptocurrency investments, depicting himself as the boy from a blue-collar family who had struck lucky. Kirchner had attended the University of Kentucky but left without graduating, initially working at Best Buy, the American electronics retailer.

Slync, launched in 2017, became his path towards bigger things. The company’s growth, with DHL and Kuehne + Nagel among its early customers, convinced others to buy in and saw millions raised. Kirchner, for a spell, had legitimacy.


The indictment for his arrest, filed on February 5, 2023, claimed he had restricted other Slync employees’ access to financial information, with the chief executive considered the “sole decision maker”.

All investor funds raised during the A and B rounds for “product development and other general corporate purposes” were wired to a Slync Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) account and before the first of those, made in March 2020, that account was overdrawn by $693.21.

Between April and November 2020, the indictment alleged that Kirchner initiated 27 wire transfers from Slync’s SVB account to Slync’s Chase account, of which Kirchner was the sole signatory. Those totalled $2.174million and much of it was moved to Kirchner’s private accounts.

But the money kept coming for Slync. In December 2020, just under $37million was sent to Slync’s SVB account by investors and Kirchner soon moved $20million to his personal account without permission from Slync’s board of directors. He used $16million of that for the deposit and purchase of a Gulfstream G550 private jet.

The indictment papers also outline how Kirchner initiated another 70 wire transfers between January 2021 and March 2022 totalling $6.8million. The last of those came a fortnight before Quantuma named Kirchner as the preferred bidder for Derby County.

Cracks, though, were starting to show in an empire built on sand. Staff at Slync were paid late in April, May and June 2022 and Kirchner set about attempting to claw back money. He convinced four groups to inject $850,000 during a round C fundraiser. Kirchner would later sell his private jet to repay the round C investors.

The end was nigh. Kirchner fired one Slync employee after they had reported to the company’s board that financial performances had been falsely exaggerated and by late July 2022, Kirchner was suspended from his role as chief executive. He then “attempted to delete approximately 18 gigabytes of Slync data, including emails”, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

“All the warning signs were there and I saw it — directly and indirectly — the person that he was,” says Gunn. “I was glad when he was no longer in a position of power with that company but sad in the knowledge that so many people were impacted because of what he’d done.

“Chris stayed in character to the end. The company folded when he counter-sued them to get legal fees paid for. That tells you a lot about who he was. He couldn’t move the money he did and not have a dozen red flags pop up. I can’t believe he could not show remorse for that but then it’s not entirely out of character.”

Slync was wound down at the end of last year.

Derby County were eventually able to see the collapsed negotiations with Kirchner as a blessing. His formal withdrawal came on June 14, clearing the way for local businessman David Clowes to rescue his boyhood club from the threat of liquidation.

“You can look back now and it’s almost laughable in a dark way,” says one member of staff. “Did that really happen? But it almost makes you realise how fortunate we are now with the owner. If the Chris Kirchner deal had gone through, what might have happened?”

A spokeswoman for Quantuma, which selected Kirchner as the preferred bidder to take over Derby, said: “The joint administrators can confirm that the obligations upon them relating to anti-money laundering tests were complied with. The joint administrators are unable to comment on what due diligence processes were undertaken by third parties. There are legal obligations placed upon the joint administrators and other authorities that mean that no further comment can be made.”


Derby County: A normal football club with normal problems once more

Derby, almost certainly, would have been plunged into enormous trouble. Everything Kirchner owned was seized within a year and now he waits on a sentencing that could see him imprisoned for decades.

“I don’t know what his intentions were,” says one senior figure involved in the takeover process. “It was going to go bang at some point. He was introduced by some people inside the club and I suppose that gave him a certain level of credibility that was beyond what he should have been afforded.”

Kirchner had the charm and confidence but none of the money to maintain his life of fantasy.

Additional contributors: Melanie Anzidei, Elias Burke

(Design: Eamonn Dalton; photos: Richard Sellers/PA Images via Getty Images, Robbie Stephenson/PA Images via Getty Images, Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

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Memphis golf phenom Rachel Heck makes stunning announcement: She won't play professionally

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Rachel Heck, who rose to No. 3 in the world amateur rankings as one of the most heralded golf prospects to emerge from Memphis, says she’s no longer planning to play professional golf after her college career at Stanford is complete this spring. 

Heck made the announcement in an essay published Monday by the national golf website, No Laying Up . She explained the decision went beyond the injuries that have prevented her from participating in college golf’s postseason since she won a national championship as a freshman three years ago. 

“It is true that even if I wanted to, I do not know if my body would hold up on tour,” Heck wrote. “But frankly, after a couple of years of painful deliberation, I have come to realize that I do not want to play professional golf. I do not want a life on the road and in the public eye. I no longer dream of the U.S. Open trophies and the Hall of Fame.

“And I realize now that these dreams were never what my dad intended when he first put a club in my hand. He pushed me when I was young so that I could find myself in the position I am right now: Stepping into the future equipped with the skills to tackle any challenge and the courage to pave my own path.”

Heck’s meteoric rise was derailed in recent years by thoracic outlet syndrome, a nerve-related injury that affects the area between the ribs and collarbone. She had surgery in March 2023 to have a rib removed to alleviate pain. She has played just 17 competitive rounds at Stanford over the past two years, according to the team website. 

But Heck did make it to the semifinals of the U.S. Women’s Amateur this past August, played for Stanford this past fall, and won a match last month in her first appearance this spring with the Cardinal. Heck wrote that she still hopes to play in amateur events and USGA championships in the future.

She burst onto the scene as a 15-year-old in 2017, qualifying for the U.S. Women’s Open and then making the cut despite being the youngest golfer in the field. Heck did it again the next year as the youngest competitor at the LPGA Evian Championship and finished with the lowest score among amateurs. She continued to play high school golf for St. Agnes Academy as well, winning four straight TSSAA state championships. 

Heck then delayed her professional career to attend Stanford and became just the third woman to sweep the NCAA golf postseason, winning championships at the conference, regional and national tournaments as a freshman in 2021. She was only the second freshman to win the ANNIKA Award, given annually to the best women’s Division I golfer, and her scoring average in 25 rounds of college golf (69.76) is also the lowest in NCAA history.

Heck, named The Commercial Appeal's sports person of the year in 2021 , was Stanford’s first NCAA individual champion in women’s golf and earned third team all-American status when the Cardinal won the NCAA team championship in 2022, a season in which she battled mononucleosis. 

“What I didn’t know was that the next few years would be riddled with sickness and injuries and invisible trials that I’m grateful I could not have foreseen,” Heck wrote in the No Laying Up essay. “What I didn’t know is that the next time I would potentially play a full postseason would be my senior year. I have grappled with anger, hope, depression, joy, and everything in between, but amid each trial in which I so desperately sought the clarity of a deeper meaning, God always showed me the next step. Right now, the next step is not professional golf.”

Heck graduates this spring from Stanford with a degree in political science and wrote that she’s slated to begin an internship in private equity this summer. Heck has also been part of the Army ROTC for years , completed field training last summer and will soon attain the rank of lieutenant.

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Steve stricker says some liv golfers want to come back to pga tour; are player transfers an option, share this article.

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TUCSON, Ariz. — While player movement at the top level of men’s professional golf usually involves LIV recruiting yet another PGA Tour player, Steve Stricker said he knows that some LIV golfers want to return to the PGA Tour.

“I know that for a fact,” he said Thursday after his pro-am round ahead of the 2024 Cologuard Classic at La Paloma Country Club. “And so it’s kind of a wait and see game.”

With much of the golf conversation dominated by the rift, there doesn’t see to be much oxygen left to talk about the other tours but players on the PGA Tour Champions are paying attention to the goings-on in the world of professional golf.

“Of course I’m very interested in what happens,” said Stewart Cink, who turned 50 last year but still plays on both PGA Tour circuits. “I hope that we can get back together as like one sport in golf, but it’s a complex situation.”

With the PGA Tour holding a big-money signature event at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and LIV Golf playing for a fourth time in 2024 in Hong Kong, the Champions circuit is about to stage the first of three straight West Coast events.

“Ultimately, I hope someday we all can play nice together again and have the best players in the world playing and competing against one another,” said Stricker. “I think that day will come and I think there will be some circumstances, you know, where those guys that left are going to have to do something, I don’t know, a penalty of some sort, I don’t know what that means. I hope some day it all comes back together and the guys are playing all together again.”

Whether the rival tours coexist, merge or simply allow some crossover, many feel that there should be no easy path back to the PGA Tour for those who left.

“I wouldn’t let the LIV guys come right back, I don’t think. I think there needs to be some way of, you know, just another way to say thanks for the guys that didn’t leave and just kind of abandon our standards and rules,” Cink said. “I think there needs to be some form of like delayed, I don’t know if it’s delaying some of their performance bonuses or if it’s some kind of a suspension that maintains itself, I don’t know exactly, but something.”

Big names on the PGA Tour leaving for LIV Golf is having a ripple effect on the Champions tour.

“It’s unfortunate, because when [Phil] Mickelson came out, it was a jolt for our tour and it was great,” David Toms, the defending champion of the Cologuard Classic, said during a media day Monday at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, California, for the upcoming Galleri Classic.

Mickelson won his first two – and four of his first six – starts on the PGA Tour Champions in 2021 but seven months after rolling in a birdie putt on the 18th hole at Phoenix Country Club to end that season, he was off to London for the first-ever LIV Golf event.

“And so then all of the sudden he’s not a part of us anymore. So that’s unfortunate,” Toms said.

The drain of veteran golfers with name recognition means the Champions circuit also lost out on Lee Westwood, who turned 50 in April of 2023 and it won’t be able to welcome Ian Poulter, who turned 48 in January 2024, nor Henrik Stenson, who turns 48 this April, in the coming years. The PGA Tour losing a bit of name recognition eventually means a weakened Champions tour.

As long as the PGA Tour and LIV exist, perhaps there’s some middle ground that can be found.

“I’m not against, you know, some sort of a transfer back and forth. I played (Mexico Open) there on the PGA Tour a couple weeks ago, and I’m sure they would have loved to have Abraham Ancer play. So I’m not against having a small amount of invites, and that cuts both ways,” said Padraig Harrington, who compared the situation to the rivalry the PGA Tour used to have with the European Tour. “When the European Tour is in Spain this year, we would love to have Jon Rahm play the Spanish Open. I’m not against a small amount of transfer of players playing events and maybe a couple of invites going each direction. Maybe an outside team playing every week in LIV, why not.

“But again, not too sure how they’re going to come together as one tour, so why not have an agreeable two tours where there’s a bit of rivalry.”

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