OTR Exclusive with Jenny Gleason
Micah: What is it about golf that you love so much that you’d be willing to do it for a living?
Jenny: You know I grew up playing sports my whole life. I was a very late bloomer in the game of golf. There was a group of us that would just play it all, you name it. We rotated with soccer and volleyball, track and field. When I transitioned into high school, I went to the local high school here in Clearwater and one morning over the announcements, they said “anyone interested in starting a women’s golf team, please come to such and such.” So, I looked at one of the other girls who was on the basketball team and – basketball is a winter sport and golf is a spring sport – and I said, “we should go do it.” Basketball is getting ready to end so we went and started the women’s golf team.
I was 15-years old when I first picked up a club. We had no clue what we were doing. I’ve been doing everything left handed my whole life, and someone gave me a right-handed club and said “swing it.” I didn’t know any better. So that’s something I deal with and I fight. If I could do it all over again I’d probably pick up a left handed club. Just because I am so dominant with that side, but you know, such is life.
So I was definitely a late bloomer. But, I just love being outside and the competition is really what drives me.
Micah: When did you know that you were good enough to do it professionally?
Jenny: Probably not until college. Even through high school, I made big strides from my sophomore to my junior year. I am a range rat. My friends call me a ‘golf pervert,’ which just means that I’m obsessed with it. I live it and breathe it 24/7; I just love it. When I started getting letters from college, I thought ‘I could get my education paid. I could play golf and travel.’ But, it was probably my sophomore year of college. I had a really good year and won some tournaments individually. I thought that ‘maybe one day…’
Micah: Was there ever a moment in your professional career where you thought, ‘oh my what have I gotten myself into?’
Jenny: Oh sure. Back in 2009, I had a terrible year. I couldn’t hit a grapefruit, it was terrible. I was all over. I remember talking to my best friend and saying, “you know, is it time to get a job?” I questioned going into the military. Why? I don’t know, I couldn’t tell you. I had this finance degree, I love numbers. There is no doubt that with all the connections that I’ve made in golf that I couldn’t go get a halfway decent job that I enjoy. Granted, am I going to enjoy sitting inside at a desk after being out playing golf? That would be hard.
But, the day that I way up and feel like golf is a real job or that it’s a drag for me to go to the range or chip-and-putt, that’s the day I’ll sit down with myself and kind of re-evaluate some stuff. But, Micah, I can tell you that that has not crossed my path, which is great. But, I will tell you that I was very close this year. I was in Fort Worth, driving in a car with Angela Standford, and I said, “you know, I just don’t know about this this year.” Maybe I just keep working with your foundation and maybe get a part-time job and I can make ends meet. She had really good advice. She said, “you’ve put the time and effort in, at least give yourself this year.” And look what happened, I won for the third time, finished runner up and got my tour card by finishing top ten. So it was kind of a turning point. Got a new swing coach, new trainer and re-evaluated my team.
Micah: If you could change one rule in golf, what would it be?
Jenny: Hmmm…you know what? I’m not a big fan of driving it down the middle of the fairway and if I’m in a divot, I have to hit out of it. I don’t like that. If you hit a perfect shot in the middle of the fairway and if someone didn’t fill their divot, and you are in a hole. I don’t like that. I know you’re supposed to play as the ball lies, but maybe they can do something about that.
Micah: I’m still trying to get them to adapt the “Unlimited Mulligans” rule, but no one will listen to me.
Jenny: I’d like to buy one mulligan per LPGA event, how about that?
Micah: So, this is a big deal, what is your take on Augusta letting women in?
Jenny: You know, I think it’s great that they let them in. But honestly, if they wouldn’t have, it still wouldn’t change how I view Augusta or the Master’s or whatever. They are a private club and they are allowed to do whatever they want. And they aren’t the only one in the country like that. There is nothing you can really say about it, because they are their own deal. When I read that, I did think “that’s awesome.”
I have a friend that caddies at Augusta and he said, “hey I saw Condaleezza Rice last week.” I said, “really? What kind of golfer is she?” He said, “well, you know, she’s not terrible, but she’s not a pro either.” It’s just different to see a woman walking around there. But, it’s 2012 and I think it’s great.
Micah: Now, what is your favorite club, and what is one that you don’t trust as much?
Jenny: I’ll give you two. A nine wood that I have in my bag that is nine-years old, and my putter, which I’ve had for three or four seasons.
Micah: And is there another club that you pull out of your bag and think, ‘well, we’ll see what happens today’?
Jenny: Oh sure. Probably a five or six iron. If I could avoid those things I’d be alright. Every golfer has strengths and weaknesses and my weakness is probably my iron play.
Micah: In addition to professional golfing, you’re the executive director of the Angela Stanford Foundation, can you tell us a little bit more about that?
Jenny: We’re headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas. Angela and I are really good friends and she asked me in January of 2011 if I’d like to come on board. She said your name came up and we’d like you to be executive director. So I took the job. It’s just been great. Her foundation was started in July 2009 and we benefit families who have been affected by cancer. And we do that by issuing college scholarships to kids who have been directly affected. Whether they had a parent pass away from cancer, three of our kids are battling cancer themselves. We’re helping those kids with a little financial aid and helping them go to school.
For more Jenny Gleason, you can also check out her Quick Questions with us right here.