This was when Smylie Kaufman realized he was meant to be broadcaster

Smylie Kaufman is just 32 years old, but this spring, it will have been two years since his last PGA Tour start. Even longer, five years since the last time he played on the weekend.

Pursuing a professional golf career just isn’t in the cards anymore for the 2015 Shriners Hospitals for Children Open winner as he’s now starting his second season roaming the fairways as an on-course reporter for NBC.

But as Kaufman told GOLF senior writer Dylan Dethier in the most recent episode of Breakthrough — you can watch in full here — while he was playing in college at LSU, he never really envisioned himself on the PGA Tour.

“I wasn’t somebody that had that belief in college,” he said. “I just wanted maybe an opportunity to play an event.”

Smylie Kaufman hits a shot from the 18th tee during the final round of the Shriners Hospitals For Children Open on Oct. 25, 2015, at TPC Summerlin in Las Vegas.
Smylie Kaufman on his first win (and why his grandmother scolded him)
By: Josh Berhow

In his own words, he outdid his expectations when he won in Vegas during just his fifth start on the PGA Tour. More than eight years later, he has no regrets about a playing career that is now largely behind him.

But when the putts stopped falling, he eventually started looking for other work and landed an opportunity to call the PGA Championship at Southern Hills in 2022.

He said that was the first time he felt comfortable and he didn’t have to look over his shoulder.

“I felt my anxiety was lifted,” Kaufman said. “I felt like my personality woke up again.”

But then there was another moment at last fall’s Ryder Cup in Rome when Kaufman really knew he was doing exactly what he was meant to be doing.

“I’m walking down the first fairway and my wife was up there, she came for the week, and it was so cool to see her and then just walk up the fairway and I was literally tearing up and emotional,” said Kaufman, who claimed it was a rare moment of sentiment for him. “I was like, ‘This is exactly where I’m supposed to be.'”

For more from Kaufman, including his mistake in U.S. Open prep, playing in the final pairing on Masters Sunday (and the movie he watched beforehand), the frustrations he dealt with while trying to find his game and more, click on the YouTube link below.

Jack Hirsh Editor

Jack Hirsh is an assistant editor at GOLF. A Pennsylvania native, Jack is a 2020 graduate of Penn State University, earning degrees in broadcast journalism and political science. He was captain of his high school golf team and recently returned to the program to serve as head coach. Jack also still *tries* to remain competitive in local amateurs. Before joining GOLF, Jack spent two years working at a TV station in Bend, Oregon, primarily as a Multimedia Journalist/reporter, but also producing, anchoring and even presenting the weather. He can be reached at