Jackie Stoelting, formerly Jackie Barenborg, played her best golf when she needed it the most during last week’s LPGA Qualifying School.
Now, the daughter of Niskayuna native Ed Barenborg is headed to the LPGA Tour.
Stoelting, a graduate of Florida Southern College and a member of the Symetra Tour for the last four years, fired a career-best 65 during the Q-School to earn conditional status on the LPGA this upcoming season. It capped off a memorable season that began with her marriage to assistant pro Travis Stoelting back in May.
“It will be hard to beat what happened this year for me, with my marriage, and my qualifying for the LPGA Tour, but now I have a lot more to look forward to,” said Stoelting, a native of Vero Beach, Fla. “I plan on playing a few LPGA events early on, and then when they reshuffle [the players’ status], I hope to have enough money earned to play in some more events. I won’t be able to get into every event next season, but if I make enough money, I’ll have more of a chance to play. I have no clue how much money I will need. It’s all relative to the girls ahead of me in qualifying. There is no guarantee.”
Stoelting also has another option to play in more LPGA events. She can try to Monday qualify for every event that’s played in the United States.
“There are two spots up for grabs in Monday qualifying in most of the American tournaments,” she said. “But I’m not going to worry about that right now. I’m just trying to prepare for next season, and hope to play in as many [LPGA] events as I can. I don’t plan to number crunch.”
Stoelting said that LPGA Qualifying School was the most demanding tournament in which she ever competed.
“It’s five rounds that determine where you play next season. It’s a life-changer,” she said. “It’s hard not to remind yourself of that while you’re playing. But I knew I had worked hard to get there, and I deserved to be there. I tried to stay focused.”
Stoelting said she had only one bad round — a 79 — during the five rounds.
“Nothing went my way. I had no birdies in the third round, and I was discouraged,” she said. “But about an hour after I finished my round, I settled down and refocused. The very next day, I shot a career-best 65 with nine birdies. It was quite a turnaround.”
This was Stoelting’s third go-around in the late stages of Q-School. In the previous two, she reached the final stage, but despite some late birdies, failed to earn her LPGA card.
“I put myself in the same position I had the previous two years, but this year, I ended up putting together the best round of my life when I really needed it,” she said. “It was awesome, especially after what happened to me the day before. In the fourth round, everything went my way. It showed me that I can never give up.”
Stoelting said she will have to step up her game on the next level.
“Even-par won’t cut it at the next level,” she said. “My husband is my coach now. I had a great ball-striking year, but the only thing I struggled with during the year was my lag putting. I‘ve worked on that, and I went the entire 90 holes of qualifying without a three-putt.”
Stoelting said one of her concerns at the next level will be to hire a full-time caddy. Her husband caddied for only five or six events on the Symetra Tour last year, and he can’t afford to leave Florida and his golf pro job to travel full-time with his wife.
“On the Symetra Tour, you don’t really need a full-time caddy. But on the LPGA Tour, you really need one,” she said. “I was a little intimidated getting a new caddy before when I was on the Symetra Tour. I kind of let the caddy tell me what to do, but now I have more experience, and more confidence. I’ll know how to handle a caddy.
“I’m grateful for my experience on the Symetra Tour. I really learned the ropes over the last four years.”
Last season, Stoelting recorded five top-10 finishes and earned $23,061 on the Symetra Tour, formerly the Futures Tour. Over her career, she finished in the top-10 11 times and earned $63,821.