Gillian Vance, USGA P.J. Boatwright Jr. Intern Interviews Jennifer Kupcho
Jennifer Kupcho started from a humble beginning and worked her way to the top the golf world; if you don’t know her name by now, you will soon. The LPGA Rookie is starting her first season as a professional golfer and is a force to be reckoned. Kupcho won the inaugural Augusta National Women’s Amateur in April and won the 2018 NCAA Division I Women’s Golf Championship. Those victories, though extremely prestigious, don’t even scratch the surface of all of the accomplishments this young woman has achieved. One must wonder, “What kind of drive and focus must it take to reach this level?”
In an interview on August 9, 2019, the up-and-coming golfer explained her history with the game. “I have been playing since I was five years old and played my first tournament when I was seven.” Kupcho had help entering the game, as her family was involved in golf as well.
Kupcho grew up competing in the Colorado Junior Golf Association; participating in regular season tournaments and making a name for herself in the community. Ed Oldham, a teaching professional in Denver, Colorado has been her coach since a young age and has helped greatly with her development. Kupcho continues to receive instruction from Oldham to this day.
When it came time to think about a collegiate career, Kupcho had many options. However, her choice resided in North Carolina at Wake Forest University.
“Wake was just the best fit because it’s small, the practice facility is right on campus, and the weather is really good. It definitely got me out of my box and helped me out a lot.”
However, collegiate golf was no walk-in-the-park. Between practice, travel, a full-time academic schedule and finding time to relax – time-management became an essential skill. Kupcho’s time competing in the collegiate sphere prepared her for the experiences to come post-graduation.
I asked Jennifer to walk me through a day in the life of an LPGA Tour professional and her immediate response sounded nothing short of hectic.
“Oh man,” she exclaimed, “Well, I would say if I am just at home, I wake up and go workout first and then go practice. Practice depends on how I am feeling as well as the weather, but I will probably be out there starting at 10-11:00am either playing or practicing at least until dinner time.” Kupcho put the emphasis on “at least.”
“When I am out on Tour, I usually travel on Mondays and then go to the course to really get a lay of the land, register and hit a few balls.” Kupcho explained that being a rookie and showing up at these big events can be a bit overwhelming.
“I try to fit a workout in depending on what my day looks like, either before or after.” Kupcho elaborated on what her workouts consist of, “I pretty much do cardio and core,” she laughed, “I hate lifting weights, it’s awful!”
When it comes to superstitions, Kupcho mentioned just one you can catch any time you watch her on TV. Her nails will be painted perfectly.
Not only is she deeply committed to her nail décor, but the types of golf clubs she uses as well. “I have been using PING golf clubs my whole life.” The partnership with PING only made sense for the rookie due to her impenetrable trust in and loyalty to the brand. After all, why change something that’s worked well for 17 years?
With her nails painted, PING equipment in her bag and the great support system at home, Kupcho was able to grasp a T-2 finish just three weeks ago at one of the five LPGA Majors, the Evian Championship.
“I mean, I don’t think there were really many nerves because there were really no expectations, so I think that kind of helped relax me,” she remarked, “Whatever happens, happens. I am just going to go out there and play my best.” Playing with a focused, yet happy-go-lucky attitude has proven successful for the young golfer, even under the most pressured circumstances.
“I have learned that in golf, you really can’t play defensive. I go out there with a goal of what I want to shoot for myself. It’s kind of more of a competition against myself, instead of against other people.”
When it comes to future aspirations for the talented young woman, she understandably explained that she is taking things day-by-day for the time being. “It’s hard to get time to think right now.”
Kupcho juggles a heavy schedule and is just settling into the LPGA Tour lifestyle. It’s no wonder down time might be tough to come by.
It isn’t easy to comprehend the difference between the top one percent of golfers (men and women) and the rest. At a certain point, the difference becomes less tangible and more abstract. It is not something that one can pick out in a swing, but more of an aura that the athletes radiate in the heat of the moment. Some have what it takes and some don’t. Jennifer Kupcho proved this natural radiance of talent from a young age. She grew up as a big fish in a small pond in Colorado, but through the years, it has become apparent that she will become a big fish in any pond she encounters.
By the Numbers-
17 -Years playing golf
48 -Collegiate events