Standout golfer Kaycie Bandura signs with Union College
Published 1:24 pm Thursday, March 16, 2017
Lincoln County High School senior golfer Kaycie Bandura will be taking her links talents to the collegiate level after all.
Bandura, a seven-year member of the Lady Patriot golf team, contemplated giving up competitive golf to pursue her college education solely as a student.
However, that all changed when Union College’s women’s golf coach Bill Sergent got her to ultimately change her mind and decide to play for the Bulldogs, becoming his first addition to the 2017-18 roster.
“I went to a lot of college visits over the summer and over fall break and stuff and Union was really the only one that really, really wanted me to come play golf,” Bandura said. “I was torn between playing golf and not playing golf. I just couldn’t decide. But all of a sudden one day I was like, ‘You know what? I might as well try it out. I’m never going to get this opportunity again so I might as well see how it goes.’”
Bandura’s signing with the Barbourville school during a special ceremony held at LCHS in February put an end to an arduous college search.
“It took me forever to pick a school because I had no idea if I wanted to play golf or not. I really couldn’t decide for the longest time because I just really didn’t know,” she said. “But (Sergent) really wanted me to come play golf for him. He kept asking me. He texted me. He called me. He showed that he really wanted me to come. So I think I made a good decision. I really think it’s going to be a good opportunity for me to just go out and meet new people, play golf, do something I like and be in college at the same time.”
Bandura was the most improved Lincoln golfer as a seventh- and eighth-grader and had the lowest scoring average as a sophomore, junior, and senior. She was also first team KHSAA Academic All-State from 2014-2016 with a cumulative weighted GPA of 4.327. She is ranked 13th in her class.
Lincoln girls coach Kevin Bandura, who is also Kaycie’s dad, sees a lot of potential in his daughter and is proud of her making the jump to the college level.
“As a coach, I see that there’s a lot of things she’s been able to accomplish in her time at Lincoln,” he said. “She led us in scoring three years. She’s really gotten a whole lot better from a course management standpoint. She’s able to think her way around a golf course, which takes time to do. I think that’s one thing she’ll take to the next level, is just trying to think her way around.”
“As her dad, I’m very proud of her for the decisions that she’s made. She’s very confident that her coach is going to take things to the next level. She’s put the work in and it’s paid off.”
The Bulldogs play in the Appalachian Athletic Conference.
Although not real familiar with the women’s golf program at Union, Bandura is hoping she can have an early impact on the program.
“They don’t have that many on their team so I’m sure I’ll get to play going right in, or at least I hope so,” she said. “I really don’t know how good they are. I know some of the girls that play. We’ll just have to wait and see.”
One thing that Bandura does see about her future at Union is tough competition, longer play and a lot longer matches – meaning no more 9-hole matches.
“It’s higher-level golf,” she said. “There will be a lot of good girls playing that I’ve played against. The courses are longer and it’s going to be harder, but it will be a good challenge. I know they play a lot of tournaments, and they’re like two- and three-day tournaments. That will be a lot different. I’ve never played a two-day tournament before.”
Kevin Bandura said that the longer courses at the college level will force Kaycie into improving her game.
“She’s going to have to get better from a distance perspective,” he said. “Courses are going to be longer and the competitions going to be tougher, so she’s really going to have to work hard to make up that gap. But around the green and her course management, I think those are things that are going to serve her well as she goes to college.”
He added that the long tournaments may take some getting used to as well.
“That’s something that’s definitely going to be a big change for her from going from playing an 18-hole tournament on Saturday and coming back and having a 9-hole match on Monday and that be tiring for her. And now it may be two consecutive days of 18 holes or three consecutive days of 18 holes and I think that is definitely going to be an adjustment for her from a physical standpoint and a mental standpoint,” Kevin Bandura said “Just realizing there’s a lot of golf to be played and one bad hole isn’t going to necessarily completely devastate you.”
While Bandura still has several months to go before she hits the Union College campus as one of its 500-plus student athletes, she knows she needs to be getting herself ready for collegiate golf.
“I need to be prepared for it. I’ve just kind of been hitting balls and just relaxing. Seeing how my swing looks and stuff like that,” she said. “I need to play as much as I can and that’s what my coach told me when I signed. He was like, ‘Look, you need to be playing a lot. You’re going to be a good golfer, but you need to start playing and getting in gear.’”
And Sergent continues to press her to practice.
“He’s texts me a little bit and he’s like, ‘Hey, you need to be playing. It’s a pretty day, you need to go outside and hit balls or something.’ He’s a good guy and I’m really excited to get to play,” she said. “I’m kind of nervous to be away from home, but it’s not that far. It’s going to be good. I’m excited to do something new.”
Bandura is considering pursuing a degree in sports and recreation management. She is the daughter of Kevin and Jennifer Bandura of Stanford.