NSU’s Kaylee Petersen named 2022 Everett Dobson Award winner

By Ken MacLeod

Kaylee Petersen, a graduate assistant golf coach at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, has been named the winner of the 2022 Everett Dobson Award, the Oklahoma Golf Hall of Fame Board announced today.

The Everett Dobson Award is a $5,000 cash award to help a deserving Oklahoma golfer and current graduate enter the next phase of his or her career. Petersen, a native of Enid who played three years at NSU after transferring from Southern Nazarene, amassed 15 top-10 finishes before concluding her career in the spring of 2022.

She is now serving as a graduate assistant coach for head coach Scott Varner for both the men’s and women’s teams while working on her Masters Degree and plans to be a full time collegiate golf coach upon earning that degree in 2023.

Lew Erickson

“Once again, it was a difficult decision with excellent candidates to choose from, but Kaylee is a perfect example of what the award embodies,” said Lew Erickson , chair of the scholarship committee. “Her essay was incredible, she’s a great competitor, loves the game and will make an excellent coach and is already helping Scott considerably. She will have an amazing career and we look forward to watching and rooting her on.”

“I am so thrilled and excited to win this award,” Petersen said  “I feel very blessed. There’s a lot of great names already on this award and I’m proud to be among them.”

The 2020 winner, Sydney Youngblood of Durant, has also gone on to become a collegiate coach after her career at the University of Oklahoma. She is now the head men’s golf coach at Southeastern Oklahoma State University. Petersen said she has been inspired by Youngblood.

Varner said Petersen will make a great collegiate coach and is already invaluable to him as a grad assistant.

“Kaylee is incredibly talented in so many ways,” Varner said. “Athletically, she is very talented, a three-sport star, very tall and strong. When she came here she quickly started realizing how good she could become. She had just never played on a team that played for championships and where things really mattered and she adapted quickly and completely changed her mindset.

“As a player and coach, she is just someone you can count on. She was going to fight for a score, be accountable, has a high moral compass. She is a leader on campus and everyone knows her.  Our players now, both guys and girls, just have tremendous respect for her and listen to her when I’m gone with the other team. She’s just a rare young lady. If I had a daughter I would want her to be just like Kaylee.”

High praise, but Petersen said Varner is largely responsible for the success with which she concluded her collegiate career and the attitude she now brings to coaching every day.

“He showed me a new perspective on golf, life and my faith and changed me a person for the better,” Petersen said. “He’s given me so much and taught me so much. I love golf and this program. I’m excited to give back to Oklahoma and the golf community as I go forward.”

Petersen grew up in Enid across the street from Oakwood Country Club, where she learned the game from veteran head professional Tim Mendenhall. She excelled in golf, volleyball and basketball at Enid but went to SNU to play golf upon graduation in 2017. She transferred to NSU in 2019 and was transformed from an indifferent player with a stroke average of 82 into one of the top collegians in her division. She didn’t win a tournament individually, but was in the hunt consistently and may have won something more important. As she said in her essay;

“Did I ever win a tournament individually? No. Am I upset about that? No. I practiced and played as hard as I could. I kept showing up even when I kept seeing my name under somebody else’s on the leaderboard. At the end of the day, I won so much more than a college golf tournament. I won so many skills and assets that I will carry with me the rest of my life.”

Petersen will be recognized at the Oklahoma Golf Hall of Fame Classic Monday at Southern Hills Country Club, along with 2022 scholarship winners Matthew Smith and Rylie Spaulding.

Everett Dobson is an Oklahoma City businessman and philanthropist who also owns Oak Tree National and provided the funding to start the Oklahoma Golf Hall of Fame in 2014. Previous winners are:

2021: Kaitlin Milligan, University of Oklahoma
2020: Sydney Youngblood, University of Oklahoma
2019: Elizabeth Freeman, Oklahoma Christian University
2018: Rylee Reinertson, University of Oklahoma
2017: Drew Posada, Oklahoma Baptist University
2016: Jordan Niebrugge, Oklahoma State University