Unless you have a photographic memory, you probably don’t recognize Jordan Lintz. She played the LPGA Tour for eight years and, by her own admission, struggled with confidence and with the pressure of having to make five-footers for a living.
And unless you follow every shot from every player in this week’s KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, you might not know that Jordan and seven other club pros are in the field. Each earned a spot based on their performance at the LPGA Professionals National Championship last summer.
But what you should know, not just about Lintz but all eight of the teachers and coaches in the field, is that they change lives every day through their actions in the game.
One example is 14-year-old Hannah Howell, a freshman playing her first year of high school golf in Ormand Beach, Fla. Hannah is the daughter of PGA of America lifetime member Ray Howell and his wife, former LPGA Tour player Heather Daly-Donofrio, who is now the Chief Tour Operations Officer for the LPGA. Despite having golf in her blood, Hannah, like many kids, stiff-armed her mom and dad when they nudged her toward the game.
“Ray was a very good player in the Met Section (of the PGA) and of course I was a Tour player,” Daly-Donofrio said. “So, she has parents in the game. But Hannah showed little interest. She might hit balls for one or two days and then put the clubs away for six months. She loves coming to LPGA tournaments, loves meeting the players but that didn’t translate into a desire to play. I didn’t want to push her too hard being her mom. I just wanted her to understand the game and enjoy it. We kept trying to encourage her once she got ready to go into high school.”
Understanding that parents have to take a step back, Daly-Donofrio looked around and found a familiar name.
“We bought a condo in Stratford (Connecticut) on Ororoque Country Club where we spend the summers,” Daly-Donofrio said. “I’ve known Jordan since she was playing. Then I found out that Jordan coaches there. We can walk to the range from our condo.
“I knew that, for Hannah, I specifically wanted an LPGA Professional. So, despite Ray saying, ‘Why are you paying for golf lessons when she has two professionals for parents?’ I thought it was a good idea for Hannah to see Jordan.”
“I hadn’t seen Heather since I played on the LPGA Tour and she said she wanted her daughter to get into the game but she didn’t want to take instruction from either of her parents, which is how kids can be,” Lintz said after her practice round this week at Aronimink.
“It was an honor for her to ask me,” Lintz said. “Hannah has a lot of natural talent. She just hasn’t had the drive to play, yet. But it’s in her genes for sure.
“I asked her a few questions and didn’t want to get too technical. At first, I didn’t want Hannah to get super serious. That’s something you have to find on your own as you play. I just wanted her to enjoy the game and play more consistently. So, we kept it simple and athletic. I talked to her about what she thought and the way she felt. My goal was to clear up the inconsistencies. I try to find the most unrepeatable portion of every golf swing and see if we can’t work through that.”
“I saw an instant change,” Daly-Donofrio said of the experience Hannah had with Lintz. “Hannah enjoyed it more and started to hit the ball better. She loved her time with Jordan. She got encouragement.
“It’s so important for kids to have a role model and encouragement from someone who is not a parent. Sometimes you need to hear it from someone else.”
When the family returned to Florida for the school year, that change grew more profound. Hannah had a box of collared shirts from various LPGA Tour events deep in the recesses of her closet, unworn and untouched. Almost immediately and without any parental prompting, the shirts came out and became part of the wardrobe.
The clubs are getting a regular workout as well. Hannah played her first 18-hole high school golf match the Monday of the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. Now, she begs her mom to take her to the golf course.
“I know Jordan was the difference,” Daly-Donofrio said. “She inspired my child in a way my husband and I couldn’t.”
Lintz doesn’t play much, now – the Connecticut Women’s Open, the Hartford Open and the LPGA Professionals National Championship are about it. “It’s a hard balance, especially teaching in the Northeast where we have a short season,” she said. “In the summer, I’m lucky to get in nine holes. I teach anywhere from 8 to 10 hours a day.
“But teaching full time has made me appreciate when I can play and compete. I don’t want to have to deal with this for my everyday job anymore. Teaching makes me enjoy competing. I’m not quite as ready for the challenges but I do appreciate being out here more.”
Fans will follow the leaderboard at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship with great interest, but only a smattering will search out the scores for Jordan Lintz. Among them will be a high school golfer in Florida, a young girl who will remember a coach’s influence for the rest of her life.
“I’m really happy for Hannah,” Lintz said, momentarily forgetting that she had a major championship on the horizon. “I’m really glad she’s enjoying golf.