Jefferson Academy girls golf alum Jennifer Kupcho keeps shattering glass ceilings

2019 Augusta National Women's Amateur

(Photo courtesy of Wake Forest Athletics Communications)

It wasn't long ago that Jennifer Kupcho wasa going through a list of her proudest accomplishments with her swing coach. The Jefferson Academy alum has quite the list to get through as she has won championships at several levels of her career.

She won an NCAA championship at Wake Forest in 2018. In 2019 she made history by winning the Augusta National Women's Amateur, the first organized women's tournament to be held at the annual site of the Master's.

As she went through her list, her coach, Ed Oldham, acknowledged that her high school state championships were every bit as important in her journey.

High school golf for Kupcho is where she started to gain momentum toward becoming the nation's top-ranked amateur and a star in the making on the LPGA Tour.

"He told me that it was the big stepping point in getting to the national level and moving on to where I could compete in college," Kupcho said. "I never really thought about it that way, but it's definitely true right now."

It was the first of many stepping stones Kupcho used to evolve into the elite player she is today. The first title came on May 20, 2014 at the Country Club of Colorado. She navigated her way around the Pete Dye design and overcame a tricky set of greens to finish the tournament at 2-over-par.

She won the tournament by 14 strokes.

(Courtesy of Mike Kupcho)

She made her way to River Valley Ranch in Carbondale the next year to defend her championship. By then she knew she was headed to Wake Forest to play for the Demon Deacons and looked every bit the part of a Division I golfer.

On the par-5 second hole, her drive landed in the middle of the fairway and she casually stepped up and knocked it on the green in two shots to give herself an eagle put. It seemed ordinary at the time, but looking back Kupcho knows that the biggest flaw in her game at that time made it crucial for her to get to the green as efficiently as possible.

"I was much more aggressive player then," she said. "I was always going for greens and trying to make each shot as short as possible because my wedges weren't that good and my overall short game wasn't that good. So when I went for greens and I missed it, it was not a good combo."

She claimed her second title with a 10-stroke win over Cheyenne Mountain's Kylee Sullivan and tied a bow on a remarkable high school career.

2019 Augusta National Women's Amateur

(Photo courtesy of Wake Forest Athletics Communications)

She continued making a name for herself at the collegiate level and battled her way to the individual NCAA championship in 2018.

It was an additional stepping stone on the path that had been laid out to her by Oldham. It was clear in high school that she had conquered girls golf in Colorado and now the focus started getting a little wider.

"I remember him saying to me at a young age, you're the best in Colorado, now let's get to the best in the country," she said.

She worked her way up to become the top-ranked amateur in the United States.

"Once I got to the best in the country, now let's get to the best in the world," she added.

All indications are she's on her way. Kupcho made perhaps her biggest historical impact last year as she claimed the first Augusta National Women's Amateur championship.

Augusta National was long known for not allowing women to become members. That policy ended in 2012 when the club admitted Condoleezza Rice and Darla Moore as its first female members.

The founding of the ANWA was intended to fuel the growth of women's golf. The first 36 holes of the tournament were played at the Champions Retreat Golf Club in Evans, Georgia with the final 18 holes being contested between the top two players on the leaderboard. The two were Kuchpo and Arkansas' Maria Fassi.

Kupcho shot five-under over the final six holes of the tournament to get the four-stroke win, forever placing her name in golf history.

"I'm starting to understand it more than I did," Kupcho said. "Fast-forward a year, the week it was supposed to happen I was getting a bunch of media requests and I told my agent I didn't understand why it was such a big deal, it happened a year ago."

Her agent had to remind her that she had literally made history.

"Going through that week and reliving the day over after they replayed the event (on TV), it definitely sunk in a little bit more," Kupcho said.

The next step was turning pro. She had earned her LPGA Tour card in November 2018, but delayed actually turning pro until she finished college. She made her professional debut at the 2019 U.S. Women's Open.

She later made her way to France to compete in the 2019 Evian Championship which plays as a major on the LPGA Tour. In the final round of the tournament she carded a five-under-par-66 to finish in a three-way tie for second. At 13-under on the tournament, she finished two strokes behind champion Ko Jin-young out of South Korea.

But the second-place finish was just another sign of her growth as a golfer. It started when she was young, it continued when she won state championships at Jefferson Academy and hasn't slowed down one bit.

2019 Augusta National Women's Amateur

(Photo courtesy of Wake Forest Athletics Communications)