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NORTON, Massachusetts – Krystal Knight has quietly established herself as one of the best young amateur golfers in the state over the years. The Groveland native first played in the Mass Women’s Amateur Championship in 2018 and made the semifinals. But way before that, she was placing well in national AJGA and U.S. Challenge Cup events as a teenager.
Knight earned several accolades playing for the boys team at Pentucket Regional, where she was a captain. And then she had an outstanding career at Merrimack College, where she graduated with the lowest scoring average in program history (76.85). A four-time NE10 All-Conference First Team selection, she also made the NCAA National Championships as a senior and placed 19th.
Last year she finished runner-up at the New England Women’s Amateur and the Ouimet Memorial Tournament and is determined to play well and place highly in those events and others this year. She’ll be among the contenders at this year’s New England Women’s Amateur, which takes place Monday through Wednesday at North Conway CC in North Conway, New Hampshire.
Mass Golf caught up with Knight to ask about her upbringing in golf and discuss how she has adapted her game post-college.
Note: This interview has been lightly edited for brevity and clarity.
Mass Golf: What were some of your first experiences when it came to golf?
Krystal Knight: I remember there was a driving range with a par-three course two minutes away from my house. I started going there with my older sister and my dad, and we’d participate in kids’ golf clinics and the camps when I was around six or seven years old. And then when I was 9, I started getting into the U.S. Kids tournaments. I first entered those and I ended up going to Jekyll Island, Georgia. I got to like traveling, and that’s how I got into competitive golf.
MG: In your time growing up, was it just repetition or something else that got you more confident with competitive golf?
KK: Yeah, it was repetition. And then I’m sure just entering championships. My dad would make my schedule. He drove me to all of them. And so just the more comfortable I got competing and the more girls that entered, as I got older, there was more competition obviously. I just always looked at golf to be competitive, never really for just recreational.
MG: What was it like playing for the boys team at Pentucket?
KK: My freshman year going in, I was so nervous. I would never play well. I would shoot in the 40s every time because I was so nervous to be playing with all these guys, and to me, they seemed like huge kids. Then as I got more confident, I started to play better, and then sophomore through senior year I ended up being better than a majority of them, and so then they kind of respected me more, my nerves went away, and then I actually really enjoyed playing on the boys team.
I definitely had a close relationship with my high school coach Mrs. [Jayne] Beaton, and she liked me because I was the only girl, so she always stuck with me during matches.
MG: How would you sum up your time at Merrimack and how did it made you a better golfer?
KK: It brought so many opportunities to excel as an individual and my goal was to make it to Nationals. And I did that my senior year. I got to go to PGA national, and for that, it was just my coach [Jason Malcolm] and I, and it was just cool to be recognized by the NCAA.
I’m fortunate to have been there for the four years that I was considering what happened this past year. I feel so bad but also because they’re transitioning to Division I, and I know they’re going through that transition period. So like literally the four years that I was there were probably the best four years I could have been there. And, yes, I thought that Merrimack had a great program and Jason Malcolm did an awesome job with the coaching and get along with all of us and my best friend was on the team. I loved golf practice and going up the tournament so it’s fun.
MG: What’s your approach as you get ready for a match?
KK: I’ve always just had a different focus level when it comes to practice for tournaments. If you talk to anyone on my team, they’ll say Krystal will hook it into the woods 20 times during the practice, run, and then, you know, I’ll figure it out on the day of the tournament because I just have a different mindset. I just kind of bear down I think I put a little bit more effort into my swings, not even realizing it.
MG: At Merrimack, you studied biology. What have you gone on to do for a career?
KK: I’m a medical sales rep for a company called Arthrex. We sell products to orthopedic surgeons, and I specifically sell biologics so I so basically everything I learned about in school, which is like blood cartilage, bone grafts, stuff like that.
I hope that golf can be in the future when I get a little more training under my belt and build relationships. Golf can play a role in that because all orthopedic surgeons seem to play golf. I’m currently furloughed right now, but that is my full-time job.
MG: What’s been sort of the biggest adjustment post-college so far at least when it comes to just day-to-day life and trying to fit golf into it?
KK: It’s been hard this year especially because I’m used to being forced to start practicing in February because our spring season starts in March, even late February. This year, I didn’t get to start golfing until May. Actually this week has been like the turning point for me where my swing is finally coming together and I feel like a golfer again because I just haven’t been playing well. I haven’t had any opportunity to play every day. I have the New England Women’s Amateur coming up I’ve been trying to prepare for now all week. I think it’ll be interesting to see how I play because I haven’t played competitive golf since August of last year.
MG: What are some of your goals next week at the New England Women’s Amateur?
KK: My goal is to be happy with my scores. I just want to be feel like normal again and like back in the game again.
I want to work my way around the golf course and I don’t want to have like silly shots. I just want to manage myself well on the golf course and not think about my lack of practice being the reason why I’m shooting in the green or missing 30-yard pitches or something like that.
MG: Has anybody been helping you prepare?
KK: I played with my dad a lot more this summer. I never got to play with my dad in previous summers because he plays with his friends, and I play with my coach or whoever is around. We play like little matches and we try to play different courses, too. In the past, it was a nightmare because he was just so focused on teaching me, and I wouldn’t want to listen because he was my dad. But now it’s way more enjoyable. We both get frustrated with ourselves. He still tries to tell me what to do, but I brush it off. I deal with it much better now. We do get along on the golf course now.
MG: Is he caddying for you?
KK: He’s not caddying for me. He’s definitely not allowed to caddy because he gets too into the tournament. My boyfriend’s been caddying for me. He’s just getting into golf. I don’t need somebody to give me advice as much as I need somebody to give me reassurance. He’s there and he’ll just keep me on an even plane. It’s just comforting to have someone around.
MG: Last year’s Ouimet Memorial Tournament was especially tough when you played the wrong ball in the playoff. But have those runner-up finishes last year left you more motivated to play well this year?
KK: I’m definitely going to check every single ball to see if it’s mine.
I want to strive to be better, and if I can get a win, I’ll be very happy with that. If I can have the opportunity to be in a playoff, I’ll be very happy with that. After not playing in a tournament for so long I have kind of low expectations, but after the New England Women’s Amateur, I think you’ll have a better idea of where I’m at, and I’ll have different expectations for the next one.
MG: How did you fill your time during the lockdown for COVID-19?
KK: In January, I closed on my first house in Hampton Beach (NH). My dad and I took some time and redid the whole place basically. It took 12 weeks of us being there every day with a carpenter and now it’s finally move-in ready. It was actually like perfect timing because he was off of work.
MG: How does the rest of the schedule look like this year?
KK: I haven’t signed up for any other ones yet because I’m waiting for my work. I don’t know when they’re going to spring upon me that I’m going back. But I’m hoping I can have a summer off and start back up in the fall. So if that works out the way I want I’m gonna play in Ouimet at the end of July, and then definitely the Women’s Amateur.
Full Name: Krystal Donna Knight
Favorite Course: Turner Hill Golf Club
Favorite Club In The Bag: 4-Hybrid
Ball Of Choice: Titleist Pro V1x
What Do You Mark It With: Yellow Sharpie
Favorite Color: Green
Coffee or Tea: Neither
Last Show You Watched: 13 Reasons Why
Last Thing To Make You Laugh: My dog
Best Meal Of The Day: Dessert
Favorite Candy: Pretzel M&Ms
Favorite Ice Cream: Chocolate w/rainbow sprinkles
Pineapple On Pizza: Yes
Dream Golf Partner: Justin Thomas
If You Could Play Any Sport But Golf: Tennis