Game Changers

Pep in Her Step: Kim Paez, PGA, Ready for LPGA Debut at Ford Championship

By Abby Parsons, PGA
Published on

(Photo courtesy of Zac BonDurant/Southwest PGA)

Southwest PGA Section Champion Kim Paez recently qualified for the 2024 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. But it's not the only LPGA Tour event on the PGA of America Golf Professional's calendar this year.

On March 7, Paez, who is a Player Development Director for PING and a PGA Coach at Cave Creek Golf Club's Reid West Golf Academies in Phoenix, was under the impression that she was going into a panel discussion on women’s golf.
Little did she know that there was a surprise in store for her.

“I remember studying women’s golf and researching how and why it's growing every year. I felt like I needed to prepare for any question thrown at me,” Kim remembers. “I was quite nervous.”
(Zac BonDurant/Southwest PGA)
(Zac BonDurant/Southwest PGA)
Kim and her manager, Christian, were mic’d up before entering the room where the discussion was being held. Paez's nerves increased as she was preparing to present about women’s golf, during Women's History Month.

“We walked into the room and there were like eight other people there with a bunch of executives,” Kim remembers. “Just as the meeting was starting, two people with Ford jackets came into the room looking for me.
"I remember at that moment I had a feeling what was happening, but when they said the words, 'We would like to extend the sponsor's exemption for the Ford Championship presented by KCC to you,’ I became overwhelmed with emotions.”
The LPGA event is at Seville Golf & Country Club in Gilbert, Arizona, this week, just a short drive away from PING headquarters.

“My first thought was, ‘Oh my God, I have to cancel my lessons and get my practice rounds scheduled,’” Kim adds. “My students are extremely supportive and understanding of everything, and they are even buying tickets to come watch me play.”

"Becoming a PGA of America Golf Professional was the best decision I ever made, and it is an honor to be an example of what opportunities are out there. I am proud to be that example."

Kim Paez, PGA
Earlier this year, Paez played in the PGA of America Women’s Stroke Play Championship where she finished in fourth place, qualifying for her first major championship: the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship in June.

“Before I got into the field for the Ford Championship, I was nervous that my first tour event would be a major,” Kim says. “But with this exemption, it will be a good warm-up and experience to play with the best in the world.”
Before becoming a PGA of America Member, Paez, who's a California native and played at University of California, Irvine, gave LPGA Q-School a run in 2012 and '13 but wasn't able to find success.
“Becoming a PGA of America Member after not getting the result I wanted from Q-School was a blessing in disguise," says Paez. "My experience has been nothing but finding incredible opportunities to be the best golfer and professional I can be.”
Preparing for her first tour event this week at the Ford Championship has brought her back to what is the most important part of her game: her mentality.

“I’m not going to hit every shot perfect,” Kim says. “I’ve been reading golf books surrounding a strong mental game and it is helping me prepare for each event.”
Paez is open about how she tends to get anxious on the golf course, whether it is on the first tee, over an important putt, or just over a shot she is unsure of.
Paez with her caddy and husbank, Nick. (Zac BonDurant/Southwest PGA)
Paez with her caddy and husbank, Nick. (Zac BonDurant/Southwest PGA)
“I’m learning how to control my anxiety on the golf course while I’m preparing for the big events,” Kim says. “I’m lucky that I have my husband, Nick, on the bag because he can navigate a golf course and my golf game better than anyone else. It’s like he can think for me.”

Paez will not only carry that restored mental game with her to Seville alongside Nick this week, but bring with her a ton of confidence, too, that stems from recent performances.
(Zac BonDurant/Southwest PGA)
(Zac BonDurant/Southwest PGA)
“Ever since I won the Southwest PGA Section Championship last year, I've had more pep in my step and belief in my golf game," says Kim. "I’m working on maintaining my ball-striking, bettering my mental game, and looking forward to just having fun.

“Playing in the Ford and KPMG Women's PGA Championships feels like my way of saying ‘thank you’ to the PGA of America and my fellow members. Becoming a PGA of America Golf Professional was the best decision I ever made, and it is an honor to be an example of what opportunities are out there. I am proud to be that example.”