Lifetime love of the game
By Greg Bach
Mary Jacobs, the LPGA Teaching and Club Professional at famed Wilshire Country Club in Los Angeles, fell in love with the sport in the unlikeliest of places: her family’s backyard amid cornfields stretching for acres.
The youngest of six – she’s got five older brothers – her childhood was filled with sports. “It was everything,” she says. “Sports is what we did.”
There was basketball in the cul-de-sac and baseball and football in the backyard of their Illinois home.
But her life changed forever at the age of 12 when a brother returned from college and told her that she had to try golf.
“He showed me how to hold the club and we would make our own targets in our backyard, and I just instantly fell in love with the artistry of the game,” she says.
She began hitting balls every chance she got.
And she got really good, really fast.
Within two years she won a prestigious national junior event and later earned a scholarship to the University of Arizona, where she was an All-American.
CONSUMED WITH COACHING
A globe-trotting life on the LPGA Tour held little appeal following graduation, but helping others learn the sport she loves tugged at her heart.
“I started teaching and I just fell in love with it,” she says. “I enjoy helping people, especially kids, fall in love with the game. They don’t really realize it when they’re young that it’s a game that you can play forever.”
Jacobs has also been coaching golf at a private girls school in Southern California for the past 10 years.
“It’s the perfect game for kids to learn how to handle mistakes and failure,” she says. “You can have really good days and horrendous days, that’s just how the game is. But you just have to keep going. You can’t dwell on it and you have to really learn how to handle your emotions.”
Jacobs’ practice sessions are draped in fun, where there’s no room for tedious drills that sabotage kids’ interest.
“We play a lot of games, which I think is important for kids,” she says. “It’s not making a hundred three-foot putts in a row. We make it as fun as we can possibly make it and I think that is what keeps them hooked.”
ONE, TWO, FOLLOW THROUGH
Jacobs recently released her first children’s book, ONE, TWO, FOLLOW THROUGH.
“I’ve been using the phrase ‘one, two, follow through’ with kids for 12 years,” she says. “I never realized how complex the game is until I was teaching it.”
Kids learning the game from Jacobs have embraced the phrase through the years, even singing and dancing to it, and from there the idea for a book was ignited.
“I thought it would be a good picture book for kids and they could really learn the life value of following through, which I think is so important for everyone,” Jacobs says. “I thought it could be an inspirational story and a golden opportunity to send out a really great message through sports.”
The feedback she’s gotten has been incredibly heart-warming, too, as kids have latched onto the story of Polly Pivot.
“I had a mom call me and tell me her son never liked to read and now he can’t go to bed without reading this book,” Jacobs says. “And another said her child had the book memorized. It’s melting my heart. I’m so happy that people see the value in it.”
POWER OF POSITIVITY
When Jacobs steps on the course she wants kids having fun, and excited to return to tee it up again.
Poor shots and unlucky bounces aren’t dwelled upon.
They’re used for learning, growing and developing that all-important reservoir of resilience to keep on going.
“That shot is over so it’s about what can we learn from it and how can we move on,” Jacobs says. “Golf is an unfair game. You can hit a great shot and get a bad break. So it’s really trying to stay in the present moment and focus on how you can capitalize on the next shot. We focus on keeping that positivity as high as possible.”
You can follow Mary Jacobs on Instagram at @mejacobs23.
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