As the head coach during the inaugural year of Emory women’s golf, Katie Futcher has played a pivotal role in helping to create and develop the fledgling program. Before joining Emory in the summer of 2018, Futcher played at the collegiate level at Penn State University, where she later also served on the assistant staff. Later, she embarked on a nine-year career on the LPGA Tour.

Between July 2017 and June 2018, she served as an assistant staff member and interim head coach at James Madison University (Va.). The Emory Wheel spoke to Futcher to understand her journey to Emory and discuss the goals she has discovered here.

This transcript has been edited for clarity and length.

Anirudh Pidugu, The Emory Wheel: How long have you been involved in golf and at Emory?

Katie Futcher: I was hired at Emory at the end of July 2018. For the first year, I was building the program and recruiting for the 2019 class. To date, we’ve had one competitive fall season. I’ve been involved in golf for about 25 years. I started playing when I was 14. Then I played collegiate golf, then professional golf, and then I got into coaching. I’ve been coaching for about four and a half years.

TEW: What are your long term goals as head coach?

KF: Certainly to win a national championship, to contend, and have a program grow and attract players. I think a really cool thing about Emory is that our athletic department is built on excellence. Being surrounded by other coaches and programs that are competing at a very high level is motivating for me. And I do want to do my part in having a nationally ranked golf program. 

TEW: What have been some of your favorite moments while coaching?

KF: For me, building relationships with my players is the most rewarding part of the job. It’s obviously great to see my players able to do things that they thought would never be able to do. However, ultimately for me, what’s important is the relationship beyond golf; what’s important is the students’ futures after they graduate. That’s why I coach. There’s so much that makes these young ladies who they are, and it’s more than just golf. If I can be a positive influence and role model in their lives, that’s what I would define as success ultimately. 

TEW: What do you value most in a player? 

KF: I think the most important thing for a player is the want to become better every single day. And it usually doesn’t show immediately. Players that are open-minded and want to make themselves better, not just in golf. Whether it be in academics or other pursuits, I want to bring in players that are on that path and can help me grow to become a better coach as well. Just the attitude of trying to be better every day is what I am looking for in a player.

TEW: What are the goals for the rest of the season?

KF: We have five tournaments coming up for this semester and the University Athletic Association Championships. I would love for our players to win a tournament this spring. I think that it would be a good goal, and we can do it if we have good practices leading up to it. They’re all freshmen, so they’re all settling into their classes, learning time management, forming a culture that is supportive and helping each other. It is our first year, so our goals will be different from other programs. There are some important things other than winning, but if we do win, that would be great. If we set some good patterns leading up to next year, that would be great as well.