Beware the injured golfer.
Last August, Jean Bartholomew had a title to defend. The three-time winner of the LPGA Teaching and Club Professional National Championship, battling an ongoing back injury including three herniated disks, teed it up at The Chateau Elan Golf Club in Atlanta knowing she couldn’t expect much from her game.
“When the back is bad, you lower your expectations,” Bartholomew said via phone. “I appreciate the chance when I do get to play and focus on enjoying it, it brings out my best golf.”
Bartholomew won her second consecutive title and fourth overall at the 2014 LPGA Teaching and Club Professional National Championship. Her victory also earned her a spot in this week’s KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, a trip home for the Long Island native who played the site of this year’s tournament at West Chester Country Club as a junior.
“It will be fun to play. It is such a good golf course,” said Bartholomew.
Growing up playing in the Met Section of the PGA, she won the Women’s Metropolitan Stroke Play, Match Play as well as the New York State Amateur in 1988. The LPGA veteran turned professional in 1996 and played for more than ten years on Tour and continues to do so occasionally thanks to her Class A status on the priority list.
“I do miss the camaraderie and friends I used to hang out with. I miss traveling,” said Bartholomew, who played in Japan early in her career.
Currently an instructor at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, she started prepping for KPMG as her snowbird students began heading north for the summer, giving her time to increase her play and practice.
“I think I have a knack for making all types of people comfortable,” Bartholomew said, finding fulfillment in the improvement her students make in their game, many of whom are adults who come after work for instruction as part of the PGA of America’s Get Golf Ready program.
“To practice smarter I’ve learned that more as a teacher than a player,” Bartholomew said. She’s discovered with her students it’s more effective to hit one bucket of balls, hitting half the bucket focused on the takeaway and half pretending to be playing the golf course, simulating different lies and situations.
But it’s working on the mental aspect of the game where Bartholomew says she has the most fun, being able to adapt to each person and their unique swing. Her own game requires doing everything she can to keep her back from getting any worse. Fortunately, the pain hasn’t been bad enough to keep her from playing at all. With not many expectations this week in New York, beware of Bartholomew.