BROOMFIELD — The name Kupcho has become synonymous with the game of golf in Colorado.
Jennifer Kupcho is just following in the footsteps of her big brother Steven and the way things are going, she may very well pass him by the time all is said and done.
“The kids have always played, they are good and we are not,” said Mike Kupcho, who doubles as Jennifer’s father and Jefferson Academy’s golf coach.
Last spring, the younger Kupcho was in a good place at Broken Tee Golf Course. She was in the final pairing and cruising along to what she thought was a sure thing — a state championship — at the Class 4A state tournament.
“At state I kind of got my eyes opened,” she said.
Montrose’s Kala Keltz, playing a group ahead, carded a 2-under par 70 on the second day and came from behind to win by two shots.
Lesson learned. Summer motivation accelerated.
“I though I had it won and Kala Keltz came out and shot a great round.I realized that I really had to work for what I wanted. I made me work harder for the summer season,” Jennifer Kupcho said. “I had a really good summer last season and it all started with the high school season last year.”
Jennifer Kupcho’s summer of 2013 may very well have been her best on the links since she first picked up a club and started going out with her family at The Broadlands at age 5.
The Jaguars junior took her game all over the United States and competed in some of the USGA’s biggest events. Two days after the state tournament in May, Kupcho qualified for the Women’s Public Links in Oklahoma. One week after the actual Pub Links tournament in June, she qualified for the Junior Girls Amateur.
In July she earned a trip to the Women’s Amateur Championship — firing a 4-under par 69 at CommonGround G.C. — and played tournaments in Indiana (Junior Am) and New Mexico (Jr. America’s Cup) before heading to the Women’s Amateur in August.
“I think the experience at state pushed her into qualifying for all the things that she did,” Mike Kupcho said. “Because it was like ‘I can do this!’ and she did.”
At the Junior Amateur in Indiana, she took on Cassie Cathrea (the low amateur at the U.S. Women’s Open) in the second round of match play with Steven serving as her caddie and was seen by coaches from Arizona, Denver, Oregon, Arkansas, North Carolina, Michigan, Kansas, Oklahoma State, LSU, Wake Forest, CU, CSU and Stanford.
One in particular stood out and before the recruiting process could take its toll on her and her family, she made a verbal commitment to Dianne Dailey and the Wake Forest Demon Deacons in Winston-Salem, North Carolina in December.
“Once I verbally committed I was pretty happy,” said Jennifer, who along with her entire family — mother Janet and Steven home from UNC included — made a Skype call to Wake Forest to let them know of her decision. “And now I can just get on with my life and get through the next few years, so I can go play at Wake Forest.”
Jennifer, who was told at age six by then-CU assistant coach Brad Neher that she had a sweet swing, has come a long way since competing in her first CJGA tournament as an 8-year old and is smart enough to understand that she still has plenty of time to work on certain aspects of her game before not only this year’s state tournament, but her senior year and college.
“My short game, definitely my chipping and 50 yards in is a rough part of my game right now. I took a lot of the winter off and I just couldn’t get it together and I lost that part of my game. I’m trying to get it together now,” said Kupcho, who carries a 3.8 GPA at Jefferson Academy. “It is mental, I just have to keep hitting the shots and get the rhythm back.”
As the 2014 season continues to unfold, her eyes are set on the prize of a high school state championship. Something you might not think would be high up on a priority list for someone that has competed in some of the biggest tournaments around the country. But she still has to top her brother’s fourth-place finish at state in 2010.
“It has always been my goal to win a state championship,” Kupcho said. “I have gone bigger places, but it would still be a big step and really exciting to get that one too.”
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