Kacie Gaffney owes part of her young golf career to shopping.
On Sunday, she enjoyed a mini-spree when her father, responsible for the other part, won the D-flight match-play championship of the St. Charles Men’s Tournament at Pottawatomie Golf Course.
Kevin Gaffney earned a pro shop stipend for his victory, but knew no better benefactor than his daughter and caddie. A few years after buying her first set of clubs from late former Pottawatomie pro Jim Wheeler, Kacie Gaffney, a St. Charles East sophomore, purchased a new set of Ping irons.
“She did pretty well,” Kevin Gaffney said. “She made out.”
Revelry was a two-way street for the father-daughter duo last month. Ask Kacie Gaffney about spending the last two weekends of July on her dad’s bag and thoughts of her unexpected gift at the end of the run stay far from her lips.
No stranger to caddying for her dad at men’s tournaments – she takes after older brother, Joe, one of five Gaffney siblings – Kacie Gaffney simply basked in re-enacting the old times.
Of course, she toted nothing but curiosity the first day she toured Pottawatomie with the men in her family.
“My mom and my sisters, I think, went shopping one day, and I didn’t want to go,” Kacie Gaffney said. “So I was like, ‘Oh, let me go golfing with dad and Joe.’ Ever since the second grade, I’ve been walking the course with them.”
That soon escalated to joining their playing group. Kacie Gaffney officially took up golf in fifth grade and has remained diligent about improving.
As an East freshman, she advanced to a Class AA sectional at Ingersoll in Rockford. On Wednesday, she’ll compete in a Drive, Chip & Putt subregional at Cog Hill in Lemont with a spot in September’s regionals at Crooked Stick in Carmel, Indiana on the line.
A deep knowledge of Pottawatomie permeates everything. Kacie Gaffney finds “it’s just natural to be there” at the Saints’ home course, crediting her dad for helping her rediscover her passion for the place last summer after also practicing at Geneva’s Mill Creek.
Kevin Gaffney, a self-described self-taught golfer, played at Pottawatomie often as a young adult. He grew up in St. Charles, but his family moved to Florida in the early 1970s. He graduated from high school and college in the Sunshine State, then returned to his hometown.
“I love it up here,” he said. “Not ready for Florida yet.”
There’s certainly no rush to leave now, what with Kacie Gaffney poised for a strong East career and her father aiming to defend his title in 2015.
Initially shaky about his match-play chops, Kevin Gaffney found his daughter was especially effective in helping with the format’s ultimate X-factor: putting.
“There were instances where maybe my alignment was off or something,” he said, “so she was really helpful there.”
Kevin Gaffney claimed a series of tight victories to win the tournament, culminating with a 1-up defeat of Tim Triplett in a championship match decided on the 18th hole.
A few days before the men’s tournament began, Kacie Gaffney pushed St. Charles North’s Gianna Furrie for the Girls 15 to 17 title at the St. Charles Junior Tournament. Furrie’s two-day 84 edged Gaffney by four shots.
As she carried her father’s bag instead of her own, Kacie Gaffney identified with him on a golf course once more.
“Yeah, I definitely feel what [her parents] feel now when they’re watching me play,” she said. “It’s especially kind of frustrating because you want to help them if they make a bad shot, but there’s only so much you can say.
“But definitely it’s fun to see him succeed. … It was fun to watch him play and even if he hits a bad shot, he’s really humble. He stays positive, and he tries to. I know that he’s worked really hard for this win, definitely.”
• Kevin Druley is a sportswriter for the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5347 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @kevindruley.
This wasn’t a bad week to be a Redbird.
Recent Geneva graduate and incoming Illinois State freshman Abby Luchtenburg fared well in her tournament in downstate Savoy while Kaneland product Hayley Guyton, a Redbirds senior, shined in Romeoville.
Luchtenburg was runner-up in the two-day IJGA Junior Girls Championship at the University of Illinois Orange Course, shooting a 7-over par 151.
Competing at the Illinois Women’s Open at Mistwood Golf Club, Guyton fired a three-day 229, 13 strokes over par.
ISU opens its season with the Redbird Invitational at Normal’s Weibring Golf Club in September.
Here’s a look at a few 18-hole specials available through various courses’ online coupons. Players must present the coupon at the pro shop.
Hughes Creek Golf Club, Elburn (www.hughescreek.com): $24 with a cart if start between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m., weekdays; $25 for as many holes as you can play after 4 p.m., Friday through Sunday
Settler’s Hill Golf Course, Batavia (www.settlershill.com): one free child 15-and under with a paid adult – playing adult may use $29 from 4:30-5:30 p.m. special or $19 after 5:30 p.m. special
Tanna Farms Golf Club, Geneva (www.tannafarms.com): $25 with a cart, all day Monday and after 5 p.m. daily; $32 after 1 p.m. weekdays
– Kevin Druley, email@example.com