Four-time PGA TOUR winner Gary Woodland hails from Topeka, which also happens to be the hometown of the late LPGA founder Marilynn Smith and Epson Tour rookie Rachel Stous. The capital city of Kansas has produced some exceptional golf talent over the years and Stous hopes to add her name to the list.
Her journey to reach the “Road to the LPGA” has been anything but a drive down the middle of the fairway, though. Stous earned a scholarship to Wichita State University where she spent the 2016-2017 academic year competing for the women’s golf team. But her love tank for the game was on E and she had no desire to fill up.
“I didn’t want it that bad, back then. Wichita State has a great golf program, but it wasn’t really for me. Taking a year off [after my time in Wichita] helped,” said Stous.
Following her sabbatical, the 23-year-old attended Washburn University, the same place where Woodland began his collegiate career. She even tried out a 9-5 desk job for a day. It led to the same thought running through her mind.
“I need to get back on the golf course. This isn’t for me,” Stous said.
“I went back to school just for school. Couldn’t figure out what I wanted to do, and I just started missing golf a little bit, so wanted to get back out there. The break helped me realize that golf is what I wanted to do. I've got a lot more love for the game after taking the time off.”
Stous has since left her mark on the Kansas amateur golf scene. She won the 2019 Kansas City Women’s Match Play with a walk-off ace and defended her title last year. The local favorite was also the only female to compete in the 2021 TGA City Match Play, where she finished runner-up in a playoff.
“Should have won, actually. I was 2-up with two holes left and just didn’t finish,” said Stous. “It was still cool being the only woman and to compete in the finals.”
Also in 2021, Stous claimed a 10-shot victory at the Kansas Women’s Amateur, the same event Smith won three times (1946-48) before going on to win 21 LPGA Tour titles.
Now in the professional ranks, Stous’ journey has found its compass, its soundtrack to traverse the path ahead. Stous resides in St. Cloud, Florida, and practices at Royal St. Cloud Golf Links. She frequently plays with Damon Green, the former caddie for Zach Johnson, and several APGA Tour members.
Who knows? Stous may have never reached this point if she had not taken a road less traveled, a road that provided perspective and a renewed love for the sport she was meant to play.
“If you love something and know you can be good, keep working hard,” said Stous. “I played a lot of good golf in Kansas, but I think there is more to it than that. You still have to work hard no matter where you’re at.”