She had lived most of her life managing hard things, plowing forward through pressures that made the heart leap and breath quicken. Jenny Lucas grew up Jenny Lee-Smith before marrying Sam Lucas and raising three wonderful children. Under her maiden name, she played on both the LPGA and Ladies European Tours, winning a dozen times in Europe and twice capturing the LET Order of Merit in 1981 and 1982. Prior to that, in 1976 while still an amateur, she etched her name in the history books as the first-ever champion of the AIG Women’s Open, an event that, while decades away from becoming a major championship and part of the R&A and LPGA Tour, was still considered one of the most prestigious events in the women’s European game.
But long before hoisting her first trophy, Jenny had learned to manage her life and her emotions in ways that made the pressures of a golf tournament seem trivial.
She was only 12 years old when the first love of her life, her father, passed away from cancer. He had been the man who introduced her to golf, giving Jenny a cut-down set of Slazenger clubs when she was barely out of diapers. Six decades later, there was still a melancholy whisper in Jenny’s voice as she said, “He never really got to see me play.”
Two years after the loss of her father, Jenny had another painful blow to process. While dealing with the angst that afflicts all 14-year-old girls and battling the rebellious instincts that plague children who lose a father young, Jenny was at a family gathering when her cousins began arguing over the loss of a favored book. When Jenny offered her opinion, one of the other children snapped, “Be quiet, you’re not even a part of this family. Your mom is not your real mother.”