“You know, golf kind of started out as a babysitter for me. My mom worked when I was young, and then my dad would go golfing with my uncles and his friends. Instead of getting a babysitter, my dad would take me out to the golf course with him.” What started as a way to keep Kyle Jones busy has now turned into a career: the Baylor alum earned his PGA card in August. Joining the tour is just the first of many goals Kyle has for himself, and he is excited to play among the best golfers in the world to prove he belongs.
It wasn’t until early high school that Kyle realized playing in college and professionally could be an option for him. At 14 years old, he started winning junior tournaments. “When I got to that point, it was kind of like, ‘Oh, maybe I’m actually good enough to go play for a big school.’” At the time, however, Baylor was not on his radar. In fact, he had never heard of it until he met former assistant golf coach Austin Burk at the U.S. Junior Amateur tournament in Michigan. As an unsigned golfer, Kyle had several coaches out watching him play. “I actually played really bad the first day. Really bad,” Kyle said. The next day, the only coach who had come back out to watch him play was Burk. Luckily, his game improved after that first day, and when he returned home to Arizona from the tournament, he had a letter from Baylor waiting for him.
For Kyle, it was important to play golf in college before going pro. The constant practice and coaching gave him a great chance to improve his game and hone his skills. The travel was also a great preview of life on tour, but he had the insulation of being a student athlete and the support of coaches and his teammates. To begin his professional career, Kyle went through Q-school (qualifying), which has four stages, with tournaments at each stage. The best players then advance to the next level, the Web.com Tour. Luckily, Kyle was able to finish Q-school as he wrapped up his degree at Baylor. Upon graduation, he started the Web.com Tour, the level where he would have the chance to earn his PGA card.
Kyle spent all of 2016 on the Web.com tour, but didn’t play well, causing him to lose his tour card and return to Q-school in the fall of 2016. In 2017, he still had not earned his card back, and so he played on the Adams Tour. While it was frustrating to not be advancing through Q-school and the Web.com Tour, Kyle admits that his time on the Adams Tour was vital, saying, “I wouldn’t be where I’m at right now if I didn’t do that.” In the fall of 2017, he returned to Q-school, this time making it through to return to the Web.com Tour. During his second time playing on the tour, Kyle played well consistently. In August, he secured his PGA card while playing at the KC Golf Classic, where he broke the 54-hole scoring record by playing 21-under par.
He officially joined the tour in September. “It’s kind of weird. As a kid, growing up, you watch it like, ‘Aw man, that’s crazy, it’s got to be amazing.’ Once you get out there, I mean, yeah, it’s really cool, it’s a dream come true, but you get out there and start playing, and you realize it’s just another tournament.” The strangest part for Kyle has been playing with the guys he grew up watching and admiring. The PGA tour has always been the goal, and now that he’s met that, Kyle has already set some new ones, such as winning a tournament his first year on the tour. While having the chance to pursue those dreams has been amazing, Kyle says the best part of the experience for him has been the self-realization that has come with the process. “I’ve been dreaming about this since I was six, seven, eight years old, about playing professional golf at the highest level with the best players in the world. Now I’m actually here.”