Don’t ask Kaylin Crownover about obstacles. The mid-amateur from Tampa, Florida, doesn’t believe they exist.
“Honestly, most people would say I am more positive, but I would say I am more driven,” she said when explaining that mentality.
The 29-year-old sales and marketing coordinator at Streamsong Resort has overcome being born with two dislocated hips that necessitated a full-body cast for 17 months (changed every three months to accommodate her growth) after two major surgeries. Then, at age 2, her parents learned of her severe hearing loss that has resulted in Kaylin wearing hearing aids since then.
Her parents, Tom Yost and Sharon Kendall, instilled in her a deep and abiding positive outlook.
“My parents used to say they were jealous because they didn’t have hearing aids,” Crownover said. “They made me believe I didn’t have a disability. I had an advantage. 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”
Crownover is now an accomplished golfer who began playing at age 9 because of her older brother, Alex. Last week she reached the Round of 16 at the 2021 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship at Berkeley Hall Club in Bluffton, South Carolina, losing to eventual runner-up Aleia Clark. It was Crownover’s first USGA championship appearance.
Her husband, Tim, caddied for her in the stroke-play rounds and then twice in match play.
“It was one of the most fun and well-run tournaments I have ever played in,” Crownover said. “Berkeley Hall and the USGA did a fantastic job of putting the event on. Coming up short this year just makes me want it more, so my eyes are set on next year. I can’t wait.”
Crownover spent four years at Campbell University in North Carolina and was named player of the year in the Big South Conference in 2012 and 2014.
Campbell coach John Crooks first met Crownover when he watched a junior event near Miami. He remembers a pointed exchange in Kaylin’s first year that exposed her inner drive to succeed.
“She brought an awful lot of talent to the table but one time I asked her why she hit a certain shot and she wouldn’t answer me,” Crooks said. “Later that day, she called her dad and that was the turning point. After that, she was a sponge and all she ever said was, ‘What else can I do?’ Every drill became part of her pre-shot routine.”
In her final event for Campbell, the 2014 NCAA Women’s Division I Championship, Crownover shot 69 in the first round to find her name on the leaderboard. “That was totally fitting,” Crooks said.
Following college, Corwnover competed for three years on the Symetra Tour (2015-17). Admittedly, she struggled in her time on the developmental circuit, but in March 2017 she Monday qualified for the LPGA Founders Bank of Hope tournament in Phoenix, Arizona, and shot 67 in the first round. Post-round interviews brought wider attention to her story. She shot 71 in the second round and was paired with Juli Inkster but finished with rounds of 75 and 75.
“I did a lot of praying to keep my nerves down. It was such a good match. I fought back to win the gold medal in 19 holes. That is my crowning achievement in golf so far.”
Following the tournament, she was contacted by the United States Deaf Golf Association and asked to play in a regional event in Georgia. Her performance there led the association to invite her to the Deaflympics in August 2017 in Samsun, Turkey. But that created another obstacle – expenses. A GoFundMe effort helped her raise the needed amount.
“It was, hands down, one of the coolest experiences in my life,” Crownover said. “They had an opening and a closing ceremony just like the Olympics. There were over 5,000 athletes from all over the world that wore hearing aids or were completely deaf.”
Crownover played her way through two rounds of stroke play and advanced to the final match against India’s Diksha Dagar, where she found herself 3 down after six holes.
“I did a lot of praying to keep my nerves down,” Crownover said. “It was such a good match. I fought back to win the gold medal in 19 holes. That is my crowning achievement in golf so far.”
She is happy she took her husband’s advice after she decided to step away from golf after her struggles on the Symetra Tour. He told her to bring “fun” back into the game.
“It wasn’t until I started working at Streamsong Resort in January that I realized I wanted to get my golf game back into shape,” Crownover said. “After playing horrible (at an event), I decided I was going to start practicing whenever I can.”
According to her supervisor, Craig Falanga, director of sales and marketing at Streamsong Resort, she brings the same exuberance to work. She thrives there whatever the task, he said.
“We were thinking about doing our social media in house, which is hard to do,” said Falanga, who is usually humbled in his matches with Crownover. “She has completely taken it under her wing, and you can see the growth in our social media accounts – Facebook, Instagram and Twitter – things that golfers want to engage and interact with. She jumped into it wholeheartedly and knocked it out of the park.”
For her output, she was named associate of the month in August, an award for those who go above and beyond the Kemper Sports five pillars of true service.
“When we were talking about candidates for the award, I said Kaylin is a bright light in the Streamsong universe,” Falanga said.
Crownover’s response? “Streamsong is in my corner like everyone else I have met along the way,” she said, steadfastly positive.