Since her introduction to the sport of golf at the age of nine, Calgary’s Jennifer Ha has dreamed of competing at the highest level.
After tying for eighth spot in December at the final stage of LPGA Qualifying School, the 22-year-old has earned the right to do just that.
As she is preparing to kick off her rookie season with full playing privileges on the LPGA tour, Ha took a moment to reflect on her humble beginnings.
“When I was nine my dad introduced me to golf and I remember going to a golf dome near our house in the winters,” recalled Ha, who played volleyball and ran track and field as a youngster.
“Afterwards, we got a membership to the city’s public courses; and we started to play more often over the summer and kept on practicing over the winters,” she continued.
“I wasn’t really good at it at the beginning but I always dreamed of getting better and competing with the best; and I’ve worked really hard to get to where I am,” added the 22-year-old.
Ha – who turns 23 years old on Feb 1st – is quick to credit her parents, John and Christina, for their unconditional support throughout the years.
“My dad has done so much for me, he’s helped me out so much, he’s been my coach, my caddy and travelled with me to my tournaments; and my mom’s always been so incredibly supportive also,” she pointed out.
“We don’t always see eye to eye but I can say that they’ve always had my best interest at heart and they’re always so selfless…..I’m so blessed to have their support.”
On the first Sunday in December last year, Ha made her parents – and Canadians across the country – proud by finishing the final stage of LPGA Q school tied for eighth and earning full playing privileges in the process.
“It didn’t really sink in until a little later when people starting messaging me,” said Ha about the outpouring of support she’s received.
“Alena (Sharp) and Brooke (Henderson) have sent me nice messages through Twitter,” she noted.
“I’ve also received a lot of messages from girls I’ve played with growing up and I’ve really appreciated that.”
Ha says her successful path to the LPGA was paved through valuable lessons learned during her four years at Kent State University.
“I learned a lot from Coach Robertson. I learned about time management and being organized with regards to school, golf and travel,” she said.
“I really needed to have those years to mature and I think that was why I was able to make it to the LPGA. For me learning those things was more important than skipping right onto the tour,” added the Kent State University grad.
While she’s been receiving a lot of congratulatory messages, Ha was quick to offer some of her own to her former Kent State teammates Mackenzie Hughes, who won the RSM Classic in mid November to earn his PGA Tour card for 2017; and Corey Conners who recently secured a spot onto the Web.com tour for 2017.
“Mackenzie is one of the hardest working people I’ve ever met; he was always the first one in practice and the last one to leave…… It was great to see that he made it to the PGA Tour,” said Ha.
“As well, it’s great to see Corey make it to the Web.com Tour next year also. Just like Mackenzie, he’s one of those guys that puts in so much time and is always so dedicated.”
In terms of her own success, Ha says her time with Golf Canada’s national team program has also played a significant role bringing her to this point in her golfing career.
“I was part of Golf Canada’s program for three years and I learned so much during that time,” said the young Calgarian.
“I learned about course management and how to play different shots; as well as how to manage the mental and nutrition parts of the game and much more…..Being part of the program was definitely a huge benefit to me.”
According to Canadian women’s national team head coach, Tristan Mullally, Ha is well-prepared to make an impact on the LPGA tour in 2017.
“Jen’s thoughtful in the way she executes her shots….She has a lot of variety in her game and has the talent to go out there and do very well,” said Mullally.
“I’m excited about Jen and her upcoming rookie LPGA year. I think she’s someone that will surprise a lot of people in terms of how good she is and I’m really looking forward to that.”
Ha is expected to kick off her rookie campaign at the Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic later this month.
Given how far she has come since her humble beginnings, the 2017 LPGA rookie was asked for her advice to aspiring young golfers looking to find similar success in the game one day.
“My advice would to be to work hard and just have fun with the game and let yourself fall in love with it,” she replied.
“In golf, there’s going to be ups and downs but you have to always remain focused on learning and growing,” continued the mature 22-year-old.
“And if you’re looking to play at the highest level, you have to be dedicated fully to it – but at the same time, never lose sight of the fact that it’s a game because to be successful you have to love what you’re doing and enjoy it out there.”