Q&A: The Adventures of Casey Danielson

Casey Danielson has come a long way from Wisconsin, where she will always be remembered as a four-time high school state champion. The 22-year-old was a member of the 2015 Stanford women’s golf team that won the school’s first NCAA Women’s National Championship title. After graduating in 2017, Danielson turned professional over the summer, then looked beyond the LPGA. Danielson set out for Ladies European Tour Qualifying School in December, won and took it as an opportunity to travel.

In four 2018 starts on the Ladies European Tour, all in Australia, Danielson has made three cuts. In the past three weeks, she finished T-15, T-7 and, mostly recently, T-2 (at the Women’s NSW Open). Danielson answered some questions about post-college life for Beyond the Sunday Driver:

What made you decide to pursue a career on the LET as a first-year professional instead of the LPGA? (And if there was one thing you were nervous about or gave you reservations, what was it?)

I decided to go to LET Tour School the day after Stage I of LPGA Q School. I didn’t make it through to the second stage and was extremely disappointed that I wouldn’t have a chance to play on the LPGA or Symetra Tour in 2018. I assessed at my options and the more I thought about the LET, the more excited I was for the chance to compete, travel, and meet new people. 

All photos, courtesy Casey Danielson.

All photos, courtesy Casey Danielson.

Right off the bat, you won LET Q-School in Morocco (which is a long way from your home in Wisconsin!). How did that validate the decision for you, or perhaps even show you how difficult this path would be?

I went to Tour School with an open mind, knowing if I did not qualify I could still find opportunities to play in the States. I was relaxed and excited which I believe helped me play some of my best golf. Winning the event, and earning full status, reassured me that the LET was where I was supposed to start my career. 

Casey and her mom, Liz, on a hike in Morocco (where LET Q-School was played).

Casey and her mom, Liz, on a hike in Morocco (where LET Q-School was played).

Who is traveling with you, and how are you handling competing across the world from your home and the courses/types of grass/players you're familiar with? What's your best tip for dealing with long travel and new locales every week?

My mom has been my travel buddy. She is great at keeping me company… and booking flights, rental cars, hotel.  It is really important to have as many details prepared ahead of time as possible so that the trip goes smoothly. But it’s also important to maintain a go-with-the-flow attitude when things don’t go according to plan. 

I am really embracing the experience of traveling around the world and seeing as many places as possible. At times, it is difficult to be so far away from home for extended periods of time. I try to keep a routine of working out, eating well, and reading to make the road feel like home.

As an LET rookie, what will your schedule look like?

Casey and her caddie, Austin, at the Sydney Opera House.

Casey and her caddie, Austin, at the Sydney Opera House.

As a rookie, I will try to play in as many LET events as possible. In between events, I will play in a few LET Access events in Europe to make the traveling easier and keep in competition. I am also looking to play in the States whenever I can, if I can find my way into an LPGA or Symetra event this season. I will also be going back to Q School this summer. 

You're a professional now, but you're not very far removed from college golf. What was the biggest change between Stanford and ... the world?

The biggest change has been making my own schedule—whether it is what tournaments to play in, when to workout, or what flights to book. I have to make my own decisions and that’s not always easy! Now, I am even more grateful for all the details that Coach Walker and Lauren took care of for the team.