Last fall during the PGA Tour’s CJ Cup at Congaree Golf Club in Ridgeland, South Carolina, Laney Frye made her way over from Kentucky to meet with her swing coach, Ted Scott. It was there that Scott, a longtime PGA Tour caddie who currently works for World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler, showed Frye how to create more width early in her downswing.
Frye, 20, went home to Lexington with the new move and saw that she was cruising at 105 mph on TrackMan.
“Well, shoot,” Frye said to herself. “It takes something to get over 100.”
The Kentucky junior added more weight shift and rotation and got up to 110 mph that first day, tacking on nearly 30 extra yards off the tee. She said Scott didn’t teach the move saying this is going to add more distance to your game. She just executed and ran with it.
In February, when the Wildcats teed it up in the UCF Challenge, Frye was stunned to find herself hitting driver, wedge on nearly every par 4.
“It’s a different stratosphere when she hits it,” said Kentucky head coach Golda Borst, who notes that Frye can now get close to 290.
Kentucky’s Laney Frye recently unlocked an explosion of power off the tee working with PGA Tour caddie Ted Scott. She’ll be one to watch at @anwagolf!
Read the story: https://t.co/rAVASv9Xyd
Watch the swing pic.twitter.com/Imo2XQjhNK
— Beth Ann Nichols (@GolfweekNichols) March 21, 2023
That power will come in handy for Frye when she tees it up next week in the Augusta National Women’s Amateur for the first time. At a recent practice round at Augusta National, Frye hit 7-iron into the par-5 13th for her second shot and 6-iron into the par-5 15th. She’s not certain who will caddie for her at Champions Retreat (site of the first two rounds) and Augusta National, though Scott is possibility. Scott won the Masters with Scheffler last year and twice before with Bubba Watson.
“He told me the most underrated quality people that do well there have is great distance control with their approach shots,” said Frye. “So I’ve been working on that quite a bit, little TrackMan games, dialing in my carry numbers has been huge.”
It wasn’t all that long ago that a wide-eyed Frye stood on the first tee at The Olympic Club where she was caddying for teammate Jensen Castle at the 2021 U.S. Women’s Open. Frye thinks she was more nervous than Castle that week, but seeing the best in the world up close inside the ropes gave Frye the belief she could do it, too.
“Dang it, I want to get here,” said Frye, who qualified for her first Women’s Open the next year at Pine Needles.
While Frye grew up in Lexington and a had a grandfather who played golf for the Wildcats, Castle, 22, says “never in a million years” did she think she’d end up at Kentucky. Castle committed to the Wildcats 29 days before she signed. Her other option was the University of Indianapolis, a decorated Division II school.
“They took a chance on me,” said Castle, who won the 2021 U.S. Women’s Amateur and finished T-12 at last year’s ANWA.
Borst said the team recently came home on a redeye to find someone standing at baggage claim asking Castle to take a picture with his daughter. Castle, who is in the midst of five consecutive top-10 finishes for the Wildcats, graduated last December with a degree in marketing and plans to stay a fifth year to finish her master’s in marketing management.
“This is what I live for,” said Castle of the crammed schedule that leads up to Augusta and beyond.
She’s still riding a high of gratefulness after slipping in the shower in January and being forced to sit out for month with a concussion. Castle didn’t realize right away how much she’d injured herself and immediately went out and played volleyball for three hours.
“For a five-day stretch I couldn’t get out of bed I was throwing up so much,” she said.
Castle will carry that thankful attitude into Augusta, where she was just getting over the flu last year when she arrived in Georgia fresh off an 81 at the Clemson Invitational.
“I obviously went into ANWA with no expectations,” she said.
Though that is far from the case this year.
Castle, whose strengths are short game and putting, said she gets plenty of motivation from Frye’s continued rise, describing her as an underdog when she walked on campus. Frye came into college No. 2,191 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings. She’s now 75th.
“She just started spitting fire the first tournament,” said Castle of Frye’s share of sixth in her first event, the Blessings Collegiate Invitational.
Borst said the way Frye played last fall, she could’ve won every week. She changed clubs over the winter and it’s been an adjustment.
Frye’s connection with Scott dates back to a Christian golf conference in Lexington about a decade ago. Scott stayed at the Frye home when Laney was about 10 years old and had kept in touch with the family over the years.
When it came time to find a fresh approach, the Fryes reached out to Scott, who at the time was going into coaching full time. He has since, of course, gone back to caddying for Scheffler, so Frye and Scott meet up at PGA Tour events, which is especially fun for someone like Frye, who Borst said “eats, breathes and lives golf.”
When the Kentucky team was in Palos Verdes, California, earlier this spring for a tournament, Frye stayed behind to watch the Genesis Invitational and work with Scott. While there she played Los Angeles Country Club and Bel-Air Country Club, site of this year’s U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Amateur, respectively.
“She’s got the tools to do it,” said Scott. “It’s just a matter of ‘Hey, can I do it when it matters?’ That’s what we’re all trying to figure out how to do, right?”
Golfweek’s Adam Schupak contributed to this article.