Playing with the LPGA pros

J. Patrick Eaken

For former Eastwood golfer Jenne’ Venier and Oak Harbor golfer Jaclyn Wojociechowski, moving on to play collegiately has been a dream come true.
        They went another step this summer — at Highland Meadows during Marathon Classic week they got to play in an LPGA Pro-Am.
        Their professional teammate was Colombian-born Mariajo “M.J.” Aribe, who has won over $2 million on the tour.
“I never thought I would get an experience like this and it was just an honor to get to play with her. I learned a little bit from her, just observing her game and how she plays,” Wojociechowski said. “She is a pretty straight hitter, I’m pretty sure about 250, but she keeps it in the fairways pretty much the whole time and is very much controlled.”
        Rounding out their team of five was Otsego golfer Olivia Jackson and Dave Truman, a weekly guest on the Great Lakes Golf Today radio program.
        The show is hosted by Toledo Sports Network producer Mike Jameson, a Cardinal Stritch graduate, and airs every Saturday on 106.5 ESPN The Ticket from 8-10 a.m. It was Truman who puts the team together every year to participate in the Pro-Am and Wojochiechowski was grateful.
        In two weeks, Wojociechowski will be heading to golf and attend college at William Penn University in Iowa, where she will major in business management. Venier, a nursing major, will be playing her senior season this fall at Lourdes University, where she has already made an impact.
        Venier played in 12 events and 17 total rounds during junior campaign, carding a team-low scoring average of 92.8. She was named Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference Golfer of the Week on April 22, carding a season’s best round of 84 at the Defiance Invitational.
        Venier turned in three top-10 finishes, including a season’s best seventh at the Cleary Invitational on Sept. 28, was named to the WHAC All-Academic Team and selected to the WHAC Champions of Character Team. She golfs for Coach Gil Guerrero, a Waite graduate.
        Truman and Wojociechowski agree that at the pro-am, Venier was the “mother hen and kept everyone in line.” There were other moments, too, said Wojociechowski.
“It was kind of funny because we got to play from the women’s tees, so we were 50 yards out and we could get birdies easily for the team,” Wojociechowski said, adding that Uribe hit from the pro tees and Truman from the men’s.
        Wojociechowski, an All-Sandusky Bay Conference golfer, has been preparing to golf at William Penn by participating in junior tournaments his summer, including competing in the boys division at the Lake Erie Junior Golf events and placing 10th with a score of 74-82 — 156 at the Ohio Girls Junior Championship.
        Before her recruitment and signing, Wojociechowski was connected to the school by William Penn sophomore golfer Julia Hippely, who was an All-Sandusky Bay Conference golfer from Huron and qualified for state three times.
        At William Penn, Wojociechowski knows she will have her work cut out for her.
“The past six years they have won their conference and made it to the national championships and last year they placed in the top 15 in the country. They are usually national contenders each year, so that is exciting,” Wojociechowski said.
“I went to their home course tournament and it was really hilly, surprisingly for Iowa. It is very nice course — they have two home courses that they use in their hometown.”
Despite the change in terrain and the reputation of the women’s golf program at William Penn, her high school coach, Rob Hawn, believes she can make the adjustments.
“Jacylyn is somebody who, since I have met her, has been a student of the game and she just continues to try to find the next thing that is going to give her more success or put her down the right path. She has all the tools to get there, and now she’s there, and now it’s somebody else’s job to continue to just mold her and make even better,” Hawn said.
“I think there’s going to be a learning curve for sure. She’s not going to be in Northwest Ohio for sure, but once she gets her feet under her and knows what she’s dealing with she is going to have a lot of success,” Hawn continued.
“A freshman coming from Ohio, she’s used everything flat, she is going to have a little bit of a learning curve but it’s not going to be anything she can’t battle through and get better and see what is to come for her.”
Hawn said getting used to the competition, even from her own teammates, will be another challenge Wojociechowski will have to face.
“From what I understand, they do a lot of traveling down to Texas and down south. They get the best of the best. I sat in on the recruiting trip that they made out to Oak Harbor and they have some top notch golfers that are in their top two or three spots and from there, everybody is competing for those next three varsity spots, then they have a varsity reserve that from what I understand is within a decimal point of who is going to get in that next spot,” Hawn said.
Wojociechowski admits she has areas of her game she has to improve, but she enjoys the game so much that should not be a problem.
“I love, of course, being out there, but I love the friendships and connections I’ve been able to make, and the game is so enjoyable,” Wojociechowski said. “My short game has always been the best part of my game if I’m having trouble with my long game or my approach shots, and it helps me in a scramble. I’m thinking I would like to be able to increase my club head speed a little bit. It’s a little bit helpful when you are a little closer to the green, of course, instead of hitting a 9-iron in and trying to control in.”


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