McKenzie Lyng struggled across the golf tournament course. Caddying for herself meant carrying all of her own gear, and with a torn meniscus — it was no easy feat.
Despite all the odds against her, she finished 10 out of 150 players during a competition.
Two years ago, Lyng, a Scottsdale resident and professional golfer, tore the meniscus muscle in her knee while on the Canadian Women’s Golf Tour, but despite the circumstances, she continued on.
“I could barely walk, with my knee being as bad as it was, with no caddy, all by myself and I made a good paycheck and called it a day. I was really proud of myself. To accomplish that,” said Lyng.
Coming so far as a professional golfer was not easy, it was a long journey, which took a lot of physical and emotional sacrifice, according to Lyng.
Her father, Kurt Jackson, called her the hardest working of his three daughters by far, saying he had never once seen her not achieve what she was working toward.
For someone so accomplished and who has made it so far, Lyng didn’t always want to be a pro golfer, or even play in the first place.
Though her father always played golf, Lyng didn’t always have an interest in the sport, and she recalled how he would try to take her and her sisters to the range as a child, but none ever wanted to go.
Her love for golf set in slowly, but when it did, it quickly grew from a passion to a full career.
“Originally I hated golf, it’s boring, its slow paced, and at 16 I thought I would try out for the golf team, just for fun, just because I was bored. And then I just wanted to get better and better at it,” said Lyng.
After high school, Lyng moved on to playing golf in college at Kent University, and post graduation was when she turned pro and decided to move across the country to Scottsdale, in order to move forward as a pro golfer.
Leaving Ohio meant leaving all of her friends and family, and other than her aunt who lived in Tucson, she didn’t have any friends or relatives to rely on in Arizona.
“I think that was a huge moment in my life because my whole life changed after I moved. Being away from my family and the friends I grew up with, I was able to figure out who I was. I began to love being here and loving my life. I was more independent and I drove my life,” said Lyng
It was then that she began her career in the Canadian Tour and started traveling the world, and met her travel partner and best friend, Amanda Robertson.
“I met her on the course during my first professional golf tournament and I took a two stroke penalty. Without hesitation McKenzie came over to me and told me a story of when the same thing happened to her and to not let it bother me. That’s just the kind of girl she is,” said Robertson.
After almost four years with the Canadian Tour, Lyng walked away from touring as a pro-golfer to pursue running her new business, Back Swing Golf Events, started by her and Robertson.
“I wanted to give myself four months [to decide if I wanted to continue touring], and that’s when I decided that the company was working out very well. Then my husband and I started talking about having a baby, and when I got pregnant in March, we just figured it was meant to be,” said Lyng. “I didn’t really miss traveling and competing.”
From there, Lyng and Robertson’s business has taken off, by the end of this year they will have put on 65 corporate and charity golf events.
“With the company; I can be at home, I can play golf, and if I want to compete in events I still can. For now at least, I’m backing off of playing professionally. I’m having a baby, I still practice, I still work out,” said Lyng.
With the support of her husband and family, Lyng gained the courage to step back from her career, and was able to regain her true passion for golf without the stress of touring.
“My family saw the potential in the company and realized that I have the best of both worlds. They’ve always seen me in the role of being my own boss and they’re excited to finally see me there,” said Lyng.
Lyng talked about how on tour she would forget her love for the sport, instead of a passion, it became a job.
“The biggest thing for women who want to play on tour to know is that you have to be willing to give up your life, all of it. And I wasn’t willing to give up mine. That part of my life is behind me, but I’m excited for the next chapter,” said Lyng, now seven months pregnant.
Editor’s Note: Devon Cordell is a student journalist at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.