Jackson closes playing days, pursues next life in golf
Friday, August 26, 2011
When Brandi Jackson tees it up Aug. 26 in Vidalia, Ga., for the LPGA Futures Tour’s Vidalia Championship, there’s a possibility it could be her last outing as a pro. If that’s the case, it could end an eight-year professional career.
Or at least leave it temporarily dormant.
Jackson, 30, feels a higher calling in the golf world. After losing her LPGA status in 2009 – she had been a member in ’04, ’08 and ’09 – Jackson began working with the National Collegiate Scouting Association. At first she did speaking tours for the company, and eventually began going on college recruiting seminars at junior tournaments and high schools. It’s something many professional athletes do.
“Just through all that, I really started to see how much I wanted to get back into the golf side of things – with that it was just recruiting,” Jackson explained.
It was around that time that Jackson also had been working with the TGM Golf Academy, a golf teaching group in the Anderson, S.C., area – where she was born. That experience gave her the bug to not just help young players find the right school, but help them get their games ready for collegiate golf. Thus, the idea was born to start her own consulting company that handles all aspects of helping junior golfers make the jump from high school to college golf.
“It’s a very tough process, it’s kind of being a combination of their mentor, their coach, their recruiting consultant, kind of a little bit of everything,” she explained.
Jackson is eight years removed from a collegiate career at Furman she still talks about like it was only yesterday. Under head coach Mic Potter, now the head women’s coach at Alabama, Jackson was a second-team All-American and the 2003 Southern Conference Player of the Year. Growing up in South Carolina, Jackson knew she wanted to be part of the Furman legacy from the time she attended a junior clinic there and met alumnae Beth Daniel, Dottie Pepper and Betsy King.
Jackson wasn’t able to play many national tournaments, but still caught Potter’s eye in local events. She focused her energy on earning enough academic and need-based scholarships to realize her dream, and knows she made the right decision.
“Mic was exactly what I needed in a coach – he teaches you how to be an independent player and how to want it yourself,” she said.
But as lucky as Jackson knows she was to find a college that fit her personality, she knows it’s not that way for every junior player. Through her work with NCSA, she’s seen the questions that don’t get asked, the mistakes that are made and the details that parents and players don’t realize until it’s too late.
Jackson, who is only about four months into working on her own, hopes to eventually work with as many as 30 or 40 players in each graduating class. She calls her program more hands on and informational, and because of her unique experience as a top-tier player, works mostly with female players to shepherd them through what can be a drawn-out and difficult selection process.
So far, Jackson is her own boss and works alone. If the operation grows as she hopes, more staff members could be necessary in the future. For the immediate future, Jackson’s main focus will be helping prepare the next generation of collegiate golfers. But that doesn’t mean her own career couldn’t eventually come back to life.
“I know I have the game for it – I continue to see that with my swing and my actual game,” Jackson said of playing professionally. “I just never had the head for it.
“I wonder now that my life, my mentality, my work ethic has changed so much, I wonder what would happen if I went back out there.”
It's too early to tell if Jackson’s newest venture will form her next life in golf, or if it will become just a supplement to her own playing career.