30 Apr 2022

Jenny Hennessy: Kupcho an inspiration for up and coming players

April was an exciting month for golf worldwide, with all roads leading to Augusta. Scottie Scheffler won the tournament in style, displaying a dominant performance from start to finish. His humble and mature nature as world no.1 is hugely admirable. I look forward to seeing him lift many more titles in the future, as this is only the beginning for 25-year-old Scheffler! My favourite to win, Rory McIlroy finished in sheer glory as he holed out from the bunker on 18 to finish second. With Shane Lowry finishing tied third it was certainly a solid week of golf for the Irish.

To put the spotlight back on the ladies, the Augusta National Women’s Amateur took place just before the Masters Tournament. This event was first introduced in 2019, aimed to inspire greater interest and participation in the women’s game. Jennifer Kupcho, the then top-ranked world amateur and senior at Wake Forest University, was crowned champion of the inaugural Augusta National Women’s Amateur.

Fast forward three years, Kupcho has just been crowned a Major champion at the 2022 Chevron Championship. The Chevron Championship is one of the five Major Championships of professional women’s golf, held annually at the Mission Hills Country Club in California. Jennifer followed in the footsteps of some of golf’s greatest female players who have also lifted this title; Lydia Ko, Lexi Thompson and Annika Sorenstam to name but a few. The sheer joy as Kupcho took the leap into the famous ‘Poppie’s Pond’ with her caddie and husband was wonderful to see. Just like Scottie Scheffler, Jennifer Kupcho is only at the beginning of her career, and we must acknowledge the steps and opportunities it has taken to get to where she is today.

Seeing the first Augusta National Women’s Amateur Champion now a Major champion speaks volumes for the numerous efforts being made all over the world to promote women’s golf. It reminds me of how fortunate I was to be a junior member of a golf club where just as much attention and encouragement was given to the girls than to the boys, as I know this isn’t the case everywhere. I would be lying if I said the junior boys didn’t intimidate me, because they absolutely did! The number of junior boys was probably close to ten times the number of junior girls. At Lahinch Golf Club, junior golf was on a Friday afternoon, you paid €3 to enter the weekly competition, this entry free also included a Mars bar or a can of Coke, the big decision every week of deciding which treat to devour added such excitement to my junior golf experience!

Kevin Glynn, the junior convenor at Lahinch would often ask the junior boys to step aside, as he cleared the pathway towards the first tee and let the handful of junior girl participants tee off before, or sometimes in the middle of all the boys. Time and time again we would plead with Kevin to let us tee off after all the boys, but Kevin insisted that ‘ladies go first!’. It was daunting to say the least to have anything from fifty to one hundred junior boys gazing up at the tee box as we all attempted to make solid contact on the first tee. At the end of every summer I would count back to all the times I managed to not mess up the first shot in front of all the boys! It’s another example where golf can help you in life, through learning to cope outside of your comfort zone.  At the end of the day, “golf is the closest game to the game we call life” – Bobby Jones.

Jenny, Founder of Chicks with Sticks

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