Madison native experiences life with a professional golfer

PGA Tour golfer Kevin Kisner and his wife, Brittany, pose together for a family portrait with their two children, Kate and Henry. 

Contributed photo

By Justin Hubbard

justin@lakeoconeenews.us

 

Brittany Kisner may not have been a Morgan Memorial Hospital baby but she will always consider Madison, Georgia, home.

Formerly Brittany DeJarnett, she spent her early years in Marietta but moved to Madison when she was around 12 years old with her father, Stan, mother, Christy, and her two younger sisters.

“It's such a great small town,” Brittany said of Madison. “When I was in middle school, we rode our bikes everywhere after school and we would walk to the drug store and you would charge your afternoon snack on your mom and dad. All you had to say was, 'Charge it to Mom.' You didn't even have to give them their name because they knew who your mom was.”

She later became a graduate of the University of Georgia and the Medical College of South Carolina, where she studied to become a child speech pathologist. She created for herself a rewarding career path that allowed her to help families in the Augusta area.

Her husband, Kevin, also happens to be one of the nation’s most famous golfers. Kevin is an Aiken, South Carolina, native and a UGA graduate, too. He’s also a two-time winner on the PGA Tour, ranked No. 25 in the world as of last week. He and Brittany met near the end of their time at the state’s flagship university in a classic Athens venue: the Georgia Theatre.

Kevin and Brittany watched the Kinchafoonee Cowboys perform that summer night in 2006. They were introduced by mutual friends and hit it off. Kevin’s collegiate golf career had already ended and, by that point, he was a participant on mini tours, such as the NGA Hooters Tour, known today as the Swing Thought Tour.

“We met and he said, 'I've got to go to Missouri to play in a golf tournament. I'll call you when I get back,’” Brittany recalled. “And I thought, 'Who goes to Missouri to play in a golf tournament?' And then he said, 'It's on the Hooters tour,' so I really thought it was a joke.”

Brittany said she later realized how important golf was to Kevin.

“Once we started dating, I quickly figured out that this was his life's dream and his goal and he was going to work very hard toward it,” she said. “I just kind of knew from the beginning, 'All right, we're going to do this and it's going to kind of be a team effort.' There have been a lot of ups and downs along the way, and that's how golf works. You've just kind of got to ride the highs when the highs are here and you've got to know that there's going to be some lows.”

Kevin experienced plenty of lows early on in his professional career. He failed to maintain his spot on the PGA Tour a couple of times after near-misses. During 2014, however, Kevin secured his place in the nation’s top organization.

Since then, Kevin has earned two PGA Tour wins. The first came at the 2015 RSM Classic, played at St. Simons Island. Last May, Kevin won what is now known as the Fort Worth Invitational.

He had Brittany and their daughter, Kate, by his side for both victories.

“It's really special that Kate and I have been there for both of his wins,” Brittany said. “That's really special to have Kate run out to him and get to be there as a family for that.”

Brittany worked at the Children’s Hospital of Augusta as a speech pathologist during the early days of Kevin’s career. During that time span, the two got married at The Taylor Grady House in Athens. Their rehearsal dinner was appropriately held at the Georgia Theatre.

Brittany said she enjoyed her burgeoning career in the medical field. When Kate was born, however, she decided to hit the road with Kevin.

“Up until then, I would work at the hospital and then I would fly out to the tournament and try to meet up with him because I wanted to keep my career going and I really loved what I did,” Brittany said. “Then, we had our first child almost four years ago. It's important for us to be together as a family, so we travel to about 75 to 80 percent of the tournaments with Kevin.”

Nowadays, 6-month-old Henry is along for the ride, too. Traveling with young kids isn’t normally an easy task but Brittany said her children handle it well.

What is sometimes difficult, however, is the amount of luggage required to travel as a family.

“It's kind of a traveling circus,” Brittany said. “We checked, including car seats and Pack 'n Plays and strollers and all that, 11 items when we went to Hawaii (for the Sony Open). That part's not fun; the loading and unloading and the lugging of all the stuff.”

The addition of Kate and Henry also forced Kevin and Brittany to shift their focus while traveling.

“The day-to-day is a lot less glamorous than people would think,” Brittany said. “We have our two children out on the road with us so we're trying to coordinate nap times and then dropping Kevin off at the course. He goes and he works out with his trainer and gets some physical therapy, he plays golf and then we pick him up and we go to dinner at 5:00 and then we have our kids in bed by 7:30. A lot kind of focuses around their schedule now.”

Although the travel demands can be hectic, Brittany says the community feel of the PGA Tour helps make it easier to handle. She said the other golfers mostly travel with their families, too.

Brittany and the other mothers on the tour often take their children out for adventures in whichever city they’re in.

The wives throughout the tour make their own mark on each PGA Tour host site as well.

The PGA Tour Wives Association, Inc. is “a Florida not-for-profit corporation organized to render support and provide assistance to needy children and their families through the means of charitable events,” according to the association’s website.

Brittany currently serves as its vice president of membership.

“We just wanted to give back,” she said of the organization. “We travel each week and these communities are so great about welcoming us and all these people are so kind and it takes so many volunteers to make a PGA Tour event happen. Everyone thought, 'Let's find a way to give back to communities.' About 15 times a year, we have community outreach events.”

Those events include parties at children’s hospitals and the filling of bookbags with school supplies and food.

Kevin and Brittany launched their own community service organization, the Kevin and Brittany Kisner Foundation, in 2016.

“Our mission is to help organizations and promote through work of our own children's health, education, fitness and access to sports,” Brittany said. “Kevin knew how much sports shaped his life and what they can do for other kids, so that was a really important piece of the puzzle for him. And, for me, the early learning and education was an important piece of the puzzle because I've always worked with children. I knew the gaps that were in our community with early intervention and kids not getting the resources they needed.”

As of right now, the Kisner Foundation serves the Aiken area, which is where the family lives. Brittany said the foundation is growing. They hope to one day spread its reach beyond their community into other places, potentially Madison.

The state of Georgia has always been important to both Kevin and Brittany, for one reason or another. Today, Kevin’s swing coach, John Tillery, who grew up with Brittany in Madison, gives the family yet another connection to the Lake Country area: Tillery is based at Cuscowilla in Eatonton.

Because of their strong ties to Georgia, this week’s Masters Tournament is uniquely special to the Kisners. They live close enough to Augusta to drive in each day and, as Brittany noted, the Masters is “the only tournament of the year [Kevin] gets to sleep in his own bed to go play.”

Brittany said the annual spectacular in Augusta can be chaotic but it holds special meaning to the Kisners.

“It's nice that, being local, he does have a huge support group out there,” Brittany said. “Then, there's so many people from the lake area and the Madison area that have access to tickets or win them through the lottery. They come and support, so that is a really fun week as far as seeing people we know in the crowd. It's really special and fun to see how many friends and family do make it out there to support him.”

Brittany’s life with Kevin whisked her away to new adventures.

She’s seen many parts of the country and traveled to the most adored golf bases in the world. Despite all of her travels, and although she now makes her home in Aiken, Brittany says traveling to Madison will “always be 'going home' to me when I go there.”

Nearly 12 years have passed since Kevin and Brittany met. Brittany said regardless of how demanding it can be spending so much time on the road, she wouldn’t trade her life with Kevin for anything.

“I never questioned it,” she said. “I just knew, if I loved him, this was going to be our life. I learned how best to do it. It's a crazy life, but it's a fun life and it's a great life.”

 

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