NCGA Golf

Spring 2018

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Two years later, at 17, Cockerill went back and won the Charlie Culver Junior Masters, complete with scores in the 70s. And she was on her way. Fast forward to 2018 and Cockerill, now 53, is an established presence on the national golf scene. She has been a reporter and analyst for Golf Channel since the net- work's inception in 1995, mostly covering LPGA and Nationwide-turned-Web.com Tour events (as well as occasional PGA Tour events). Cockerill enjoyed a decorated amateur career, rising from a walk-on at UCLA to a six-time winner and All-American. Even more memorably, she won the U.S. Women's Amateur in consecutive years (1986-87), a rare achievement. Cockerill spent nine years on the LPGA Tour and was inducted into the NCGA Hall of Fame in 2013. This eventful path traces to a happy childhood in a rural setting. Cockerill attended Loma Prieta elementary school, practically atop the epicenter of the 1989 earthquake. She was a self-described tomboy who ran around the forest playing with friends until her mom, Mary, shouted "Dinner!" and the sound echoed through the canyons. Cockerill's dad, Dale, played golf his whole life (he died in 2011), carried a single-digit handicap and ultimately intro- duced his wife and daughter to the game. Kay had participated in gymnastics, volley- ball, basketball and softball, but she soon had a new favorite sport. "My dad took us to the range and some- thing kind of clicked," Cockerill said. "I think I had a natural affinity for golf." Before long, she was taking lessons from Rick Walker at DeLaveaga Golf & Lodge in Santa Cruz. She played NCGA events as a teenager and savored the cama- raderie with other players. Cockerill later sharpened her game at La Rinconada Country Club in Los Gatos, where she held a part-time job and landed a junior membership. All the while, she found inspiration down the hill in Santa Cruz. World Golf Hall of Famer Juli Inkster grew up about 20 minutes away and made splashy head- lines when she won three consecutive U.S. Women's Amateur titles. Cockerill noticed. They didn't meet until playing together on the LPGA Tour, but Inkster already had made a profound impression. "Juli was someone I modeled myself after," Cockerill said, "and there really weren't too many women in the industry, locally, who were role models back then." Cockerill didn't match her amateur suc- cess as a pro. She won once on the Futures Tour, but she never lifted a trophy on the LPGA Tour and her best finish in a major was a tie for 16th at the 1988 U.S. Women's Open. In retrospect, she said she was too hard on herself and didn't handle the pres- sure of expectations very well, in the wake of her amateur achievements. Still, her playing background paved the way for a second career with Golf Channel, roaming courses to offer insight on players and strategy. Cockerill knows the game and enjoys a comfortable rapport with LPGA and Web.com pros. She has spent time as an analyst in the broadcast booth, but she prefers traipsing on the ground – smelling the fresh air, hearing the gallery, observing subtle inter- actions between player and caddie. "The foot soldiers, we keep it real," she 50 SPRING 2018 | NCGA.ORG Left, with husband, Danny Dann, on ninth hole at Royal County Down in Northern Ireland; right, reconnecting with the Cox Cup, the U.S. Women's Amateur trophy, which she won twice.

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