Concolino takes social route to the LPGA tour
NAPLES, Fla. – If there’s a player out here with whom most amateur golfers can relate, it’s LPGA rookie Jacqui Concolino. If buddy trips, friendly wagers and trash talk are at the core your game, then count Concolino as your fourth.
At a time when professional golfers seem so robotic, the sport has never seemed more individual. To succeed at this level, the recipe calls for pushy parents, blistered hands and hour after hour – alone – on the range.
It’s not that Concolino’s work ethic is any less than the next player, but credit the caddie shack as the reason she’s on the tour this year.
Concolino’s college career at Vanderbilt started off promising enough. One of the most solid players in the SEC, the athletic blonde finished fourth in the Golfweek/Sagarin Rankings as a sophomore. One year later, she had fallen to No. 280.
Parents Robert and Doreen say it was largely due to the departure of two coaches and two seniors (her big sisters). It was a tough time for Concolino, a sociable person who lost her way for a bit.
“I just couldn’t get the ball in play,” said Concolino, who struggled mightily off the tee.
When she graduated, Concolino gave up the competitive scene and started to caddie at the Ritz-Carlton.
“I needed 'me' time, you know?” Concolino said. “I just came from junior golf to college golf, never had time for (myself).”
Nearly two years into Concolino’s hiatus, her fellow caddies, impressed with her game, pushed her to take her action to the mini tours. At that time, Concolino played a lot of golf but didn’t practice.
“When I first started playing again, I don’t think I hit the driver for six weeks,” Concolino said.
She notched three wins on the SunCoast Series in 2011 and told her parents six weeks out of LPGA Q-School that she thought she might give her dream another chance. Concolino held a tryout session amongst her fellow caddies and selected a winner. Three stages later, she had conditional status on the LPGA.
While looping, Concolino said she realized that she can rely more on her athletic ability and less on finding the perfect swing.
“I learned that it doesn’t matter what your swing looks like,” she said.
Concolino played two tournaments on the Symetra Tour before starting her LPGA season at the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic. She made the cut there and through the reshuffle, earned more starts. She wound up in the season-ending CME Group Titleholders with a T-11 in Toledo. She’s currently ranked No. 326 in the Rolex Rankings but is all smiles.
Because she didn’t qualify for any of the Asian swing, Concolino had a couple months off to prepare for this week and spent many of those days playing 27 or 36 holes with her buddies on day trips.
“The one guy is my bankroll, really,” said Concolino with a smirk, when asked about side bets.
Her story is a lesson for those who tend to take things too seriously once they turn professional. There’s nothing wrong with social golf.
For Concolino, it resurrected her game.