Mike and Stephanie Louden are creating a lifetime of memories together. And those memories all started with junior golf and the Southern Nevada Junior Golf Association. To this day, the memories and friendships they have made have endured, as has the golf. –by Bill Bowman, Las Vegas Golf Insider staff.
“For me, junior golf was such a fun time,” said Stephanie, whose maiden name was Keever when she was dominating local junior golf. “I got to see friends and just enjoy being outside.”
It was the same for Mike.
“I remember playing a lot of golf with buddies,” he said. “And we walked, too. The conversations were deeper and you made lasting friendships.”
The Loudens have been married for 17 years and have a son, Lucas, who is 12. After 13 years in Texas (after leaving Las Vegas) they are about to move to just north of Phoenix. Stephanie works in medical sales for Stryker Corporation (the company is helping out with the Covid-19 battle by making beds for patient use) while Mike is getting his real estate license.
And while they are both anticipating the new adventure in their life, the conversation always comes back to golf.
Both used junior golf as a stepping stone to high school golf, then on to college and professional stints. Stephanie spent 11 years on the LPGA Tour and Mike had a couple of starts on the BUY.com Tour (now the Korn Ferry Tour) back in 2000 by Monday qualifying.
But it’s the junior golf that energizes the discussion.
“I look back and realize I took for granted all the great courses that we got to play in Las Vegas,” Mike said. “You’re a kid and you don’t have any money and you’re playing a course like TPC Summerlin where the pros play. It’s something I’ll always look back on with fond memories.”
Stephanie added the people working for the SNJGA have always been very underappreciated.
“The work and time the people put in was huge,” she said. “People like Jane Schlosser and Ann Sunstrum. All of those people make an impact on the young golfers and that has motivated me to try and do that for others. It’s what makes the world go round.”
Both Mike and Stephanie admitted their golf travels didn’t come without sacrifices. But, both also said those sacrifices were necessary to pursue dreams.
“It’s hard,” Stephanie said. “There’s a lot of discipline and you’ve got to sacrifice at times. I remember being 14 or 15 and my friends would want to go to the mall. I’d tell myself ‘hey, I have to practice’ because it’s what I needed to do. It taught me a lot of early lessons.”
Mike said even with the hard work and dedication, it didn’t always work out well.
“I think back and, like everything else in life, everything didn’t always go my way,” he said. “I didn’t get the tee time I wanted…I didn’t get to play in the group I wanted….I got a bad bounce. But junior golf showed me you have to take things in stride. You have to take ownership. You have to decide how you screwed up and what you can do to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Mike added he’s still playing golf, although at times it’s a little tougher than it used to be.
“We are blessed to have played a game you can play your entire life,” he said. “You’re always trying to be your best every time out. My back hurts a little more now than when I was 20 but I still love going out. It’s one of my hobbies and I love that it’s still a challenge every time out.”
In the end, Stephanie summed up the outlook the world might want to try: “We really all need to appreciate the good things that are around us and count our blessings,” she said. “That’s what we have been focused on.”
Years of play for the Loudens
SNJGA, 1986-1996; College (Stanford), 1997-2001; LPGA, 2002-2013.
Mike: SNJGA, 1992-1996; College (Fresno State), 1996-2000; Mini-Tours, 2001-2006.
Top 5 Golf Accomplishments
4-time All-American at Stanford
Wining Jr. World 13-14 age group and qualifying for the Japan Cup
11-year LPGA career
12th in 2002 U.S. Women’s Open
5th in 2007 SemGroup tournament with a chance to win and Mike on the bag as caddie
1996 Nevada State Amateur Champion
College scholarship to Fresno State (1996-2000)
Winner of the 1998 Santa Clara Collegiate Invitational
Monday qualified for two BY.com events in summer of 2000 at Boise and Salt Lake City)
Winner of the 1995 SNJGA Tournament of Champions