Kendra Dalton has always been a journeywoman. She was born in Arizona, raised in New York state, went to high school in North Carolina, attended college at Brigham Young University and now resides in Texas. So, despite not picking up the game of golf until the latter years of adolescence, Dalton feels right at home on the road and on a golf course. It’s what she knows.
“I walked on at BYU and made my way up,” said Dalton, a fourth-year professional on the Epson Tour. “I definitely had a different journey. The first few years playing professionally, I’ve had a lot to catch up on and just experience. I feel like I’ve done a good job of learning.”
Dalton ventured to BYU as a wide-eyed teenager with a scoring average “close to 80.” Last year, she set a career-best mark for scoring average (72.18) as a professional. The 26-year-old credits her success to BYU women’s golf head coach Carrie Roberts, who has been at the helm since 2010 and is a three-time West Coast Conference (WCC) Coach of the Year.
“She helped me come from kind of nothing to be able to compete professionally,” said Dalton, the WCC Player of the Year in 2017 and 2018. “She helped me tremendously. I am really grateful for my years at BYU. I had a great experience that I look back on with fond memories. I fell in love with Utah.”
This week, Dalton returns to the state that shaped her, only as a professional seeking a breakthrough performance in the Copper Rock Championship at Copper Rock Golf Course. It would be a welcome chapter on a journey shaped by grit, perseverance, patience and empathy, but she has perspective on outcomes and knows the moment will find her.
Those characteristics Dalton exemplifies in her daily walk on the fairways, and outside the ropes were forged caring for her brother Alex, who has Cri-du-chat syndrome. A chromosomal condition that results when a piece of chromosome 5 is missing, infants with the condition often have a high-pitched cry resembling that of a cat. The disorder is also characterized by intellectual disability, microcephaly, distinctive facial features and delayed development.
“It’s extremely rare. He’s 28 and we’ve never met anyone else with it,” Dalton said. “He’s like a toddler, so requires full-time care. My parents are the greatest people I know. Growing up with him, I learned a lot about patience, empathy. You grow up a little quicker and it changes your perspective on the world to where it’s not all about you. He has definitely played a huge part in getting me to where I am today.
“He has a pure love and a little personality. He has given me a greater sense of compassion and empathy. It’s so powerful to watch someone so pure and special go through life like he does.”
The results are already written in the stars and a handicap might affect one’s day on a golf course. But for Alex, results are not derived from his handicap because he makes the most of every opportunity. It’s a lesson that Dalton has learned from family and one that keeps her grounded along every step of her incredible journey.