Golf

Hempfield golf coach Katie Miller Gee playing through pregnancy

Balance rarely has been an issue for Katie Miller Gee.

Somehow, she finds time to work at her parents’ Dairy Queen store in Latrobe, sell Ecco golf shoes, model for athletic apparel company Jofit and play competitive amateur golf.

But that’s her schedule.

A different kind of balance came into play when she teed it up in the 36-hole Pennsylvania Women’s Golf Association Mid-Amateur last week. It was with her golf swing. That flowing, repeatable golf swing.

Miller Gee, the coach of the new girls golf team at Hempfield, her alma mater, played the tournament six months pregnant with her first child, a baby girl set to arrive later in the fall.

Call it a slight bump in the road.

“Once I got my balance under control I was fine,” she said. “I hit two bad shots the first day, but I was all right after that. I had to get used to it.”

All she did was win the event by 10 shots, making five birdies to close with a 2-under-par 71 at Sunnybrook Golf Club in Plymouth Meeting.

A decorated amateur player, Miller Gee, 36, is the wife of Oakmont Country Club head professional Devin Gee. She leaned on some range tips from her husband to reset her swing calmly.

“We talked about getting more on my heels and turning over the ball more,” she said. “It was about some swing thoughts. It worked out. It was definitely an adjustment.”

Miller Gee, who will assist her husband with loose ends at this week’s U.S. Amateur at Oakmont — player Mark Goetz is her cousin — played in the U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball in April in Texas, earlier in her pregnancy, and several Women’s Golf Association of Western Pennsylvania events.

“I wasn’t showing as much then,” she said. “My family didn’t even know I was pregnant when I was in Texas.”

When her mother and caddie, Terri Miller, was six months pregnant with Katie, “I was playing golf, too,” she said. “I was working at the hospital, and we’d get some girls together and play at the Sheraton (Inn) in Greensburg.

“Katie worked with Devin, and I think it really helped her adjust. I remember talking with (accomplished amateur) Nathan Smith’s mom, and she said she played the day she gave birth to Nathan.”

So, it can be done. Expecting moms can expect to drop some putts.

Pros Stacy Lewis, Sarah Jane Smith and Brittany Lincicome have played in LPGA events with child. Paula Creamer, the 2010 Women’s U.S. Open champion at Oakmont, recently announced her pregnancy and plans to keep playing.

Miller Gee will have to shut down playing the game at some point. Despite being exempt into the field and putting an elusive win high on her priority list, she withdrew from the U.S. Mid-Amateur in September as she focuses on coaching at Hempfield, where she won three PIAA individual championships.

She recently was inducted into the WPIAL Hall of Fame.

Terri Miller said caddying for her daughter is a job that brings her the most pride.

“It’s not so much getting yardages, reading putts, making notes on yardage books or pin sheets,” Terri Miller said. “Rather, it’s keeping her comfortable; refilling water bottles, cleaning clubs, replacing divots and keeping a certain calmness when things become testy or tense. You know, just what moms do. Soon that’s what she’ll be doing. Cool.”

A former sideline reporter for the ACC, NHL and NFL, Miller Gee plans to play in the WPGA Women’s Amateur on Aug. 23 at Ligonier Country Club. Then, it’s all about coaching, something she is anxious to take on.

She was an assistant for one year at Oakland Catholic with her friend, head coach Colleen Meyers.

“It’s an opportunity to give back,” the former North Carolina Tar Heel said. “It wasn’t something I thought much about, but when the Hempfield job opened for a new girl team, it seemed like something I could do.”

Miller Gee, a three-time state amateur champion, was a professional for a short time, playing on the LPGA Futures Tour for two years before regaining her amateur status.

She has found a niche playing on the mid-am circuit.

“I love mid-am events because you see the moms and the women with careers,” said Miller Gee, a member at Green Oaks Country Club in Verona. “They show it can be done.”

Giving up being a pro meant she couldn’t give organized lessons any longer like she did at courses in Rhode Island and Florida, but she still plans to provide plenty of guidance to her six players this fall.

“I can show the girls how to prep for a match, or if they’re nervous I can help them focus on something else — more about the process than the swing,” she said. “I just want the girls to come out and have fun. We’ve never had a girls golf team at Hempfield. When I played, I played on the boys team. I want to see the girls enjoy the game and improve. If they want to pick up the ball and throw it, that’s fine too.”

Hempfield will play home matches at Greensburg Country Club.

With such golf pedigree, the Gees’ daughter will have to get a golf-related name, right?

“We’ve had some many people say that,” Katie Miller Gee said. “We’ve heard the name Carol Semple Gee come up. We’ll have to see what happens.”

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