Resilient Crownover Seeks to Build on Solid 2021 Debut

By Ron Driscoll, USGA

| Sep 17, 2022

Resilient Crownover Seeks to Build on Solid 2021 Debut

35th U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur Home

Granted, it’s a national championship with some important rewards awaiting the champion, but the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur has something of a reunion atmosphere as well.

Kaylin Crownover, 30, of Tampa, Fla., is as competitive as anyone in the field, having made it to the Round of 16 in her debut last year. Still, she was thrilled and surprised when tee times for Rounds 1 and 2 of stroke play were announced earlier this week.

“I’m so excited to be playing with Lauren Dunbar [Bates],” said Crownover. “We played on the Symetra Tour, traveled a lot together, then kind of lost touch, and both of us got married so our last names changed. I didn’t even know she was in the field, and then, it’s just so funny that out of all these girls, we ended up getting paired.”

Bates, nee Lauren Dunbar, also 30, played at Wofford College in Spartanburg, S.C., while Crownover (then Kaylin Yost) played at Campbell University in Buies Creek, N.C., before they embarked on their forays in professional golf. Crownover’s quest ended in 2017, and she regained her amateur status in 2019, soon after a stint working at Streamsong Resort, site of the 2016 U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship.

Crownover, whose first U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur last fall at Berkeley Hall Club in Bluffton, S.C., was also her first USGA championship, has overcome more obstacles than most in this week’s 132-player field. She was born with two dislocated hips and spent much of her first 17 months in a full body cast, learning to walk despite doctors’ pessimism. At age 2, she was diagnosed with severe hearing loss, and has worn hearing aids throughout her life due to an estimated 90 percent hearing deficit.

“I wouldn’t change a thing about being hearing-impaired because of the journey I’ve been on and the amazing people I have met on my way,” said Crownover, who won the gold medal in the first-ever women’s golf competition in the 2017 Deaflympics at Samsun, Turkey. The IOC-sanctioned games have been contested quadrennially for nearly 100 years, and that 23rd edition in Turkey featured nearly 3,000 athletes from 97 countries.

“I have selective hearing so I can turn off the world when I want to, and sometimes I rock the deaf card,” Crownover said with a laugh. “But you know, it’s something that’s part of me. Because of my struggles when I was younger, it kind of set a tone of perseverance and always being grateful.”

Everyone has their limits, however, and Crownover hit a wall in late 2017 after 11 missed cuts in 17 Symetra Tour starts over two-plus years. Having given herself three years to make it as a professional, she decided to step away from the game – at least for the time being.

“I was burned out, just didn't want anything to do with golf,” said Crownover, who was a two-time Big South Conference Player of the Year at Campbell. “It was kind of sucking the life out of me.”

It wasn’t all low moments, just not enough positive ones. One highlight had come in March of that year, when Crownover Monday-qualified for her first LPGA Tour event, the Bank of Hope Classic in Phoenix, Ariz. She opened with a 5-under-par 67 and made the cut, finishing in 74th place. Along the way, she played with a pair of LPGA stalwarts: five-time USGA champion and World Golf Hall of Famer Juli Inkster and 20-year veteran and major champion Angela Stanford.

“It’s a week I will always cherish, along with all the wonderful people I met,” said Crownover. “I don't miss playing professionally, but I will forever be grateful that I had the experience. I gave it my best shot, and I always had people in my corner, telling me to never give up.”

Her golf rejuvenation began when she met her future husband, Tim.

“One of his hobbies was playing golf on the weekend,” said Crownover. “He just told me, ‘Don’t take yourself so seriously.’ He’s a very calm, collected person, and his attitude toward the game really helped me, especially last year when he caddied for me. I tend to get flustered and he keeps me level-headed. Another neat thing about him is that he likes to play quick, like me.”

The pair have two dogs and are currently remodeling their home, so their golf is often limited to Saturday mornings, when they try to be the first group off. Crownover said they can sometimes zip through 18 holes in under two hours.

Crownover lost in the Round of 16 in 2021 to eventual runner-up Aliea Clark, but not before she earned a 21-hole victory in the Round of 32 over Sarah Gallagher, making a birdie on No. 18 to force extra holes.

“Having tried to qualify for the Girls’ Junior and the Women’s Am several times, my first USGA event was amazing,” said Crownover, who has worked with only one instructor for the past 19 years, Dan McCarthy of Grande Oaks Golf Academy in Davie, Fla. “Combine that with how well I played, and it was even more amazing. As soon as it was done, I told myself that I was going to try to do it every year because it really is the best week of the year.”

Her championship began at 12:45 p.m. EDT on Saturday on No. 1 of the Long Mean Course at Fiddlesticks Country Club, with her husband again on the bag.

“I’ll be honest, I'm not hitting the ball as well as I’d like to,” said Crownover. “I would love to make it into match play again, and if I’m being honest, I would love to win this thing. I just want to stay in the moment and not stress about things, because I think it's a privilege that we all get to be out here.”

Perspective can be a very useful attribute over a potential six days of grueling competition, as any veteran mid-amateur will attest.

Ron Driscoll is the senior manager of content for the USGA. Email him at