BOULDER – Mainly viewing it as a family pursuit, Colin and Barbara Coleman introduced their daughters Jenny and Kristin to golf when the twins were old enough to not only swing a club but begin to take satisfaction in swinging it right.
The mechanics just got better and better, and it wasn’t long before the talent and aptitude gaps between parents and proteges began widening.
“(Golf) just seemed fun to do together as a family,” Jenny recalled. “And our dad was a pretty good golfer; he had single-digit handicaps. But when we were 13 or so we started beating him. We could tell we were getting somewhere with the game.”
“Somewhere” turned out to be the University of Colorado, where Jenny and Kristin recently graduated and completed stellar four-year golfing careers for women’s coach Anne Kelly. They were the only two seniors on Kelly’s squad, and the Colemans’ four-year contributions are memorable.
Kelly called the Coleman twins “hard workers and very determined, committed golfers . . . they were a big part of the highly successful 2011-12 season along with Emily Talley, Jess Wallace and Alex Stewart. I'm also very proud of their academic success and earning their degrees.”
Next up for the twins is a couple of months of plotting long-term goals – those include the LPGA tour – but in the short term attempting to qualify for the U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship in Glen Cove, N.Y., is a priority. Qualifying for that event would be gratifying for obvious reasons – and one that is not so obvious.
Their grandfather, Daniel Coleman, is a longtime influential member of Nassau Country Club, where the U.S. Women’s Amateur will be played in early August. “He’s excited that his club is hosting it,” Jenny said, adding that he’s even more excited about the possibility of his granddaughters qualifying to play in it. “He’s trying to tell all his friends about that . . . I’m really trying to make that one.”
So is Kristin. “It would mean a lot to everyone in our family,” she said. “For one or both of us to do it, it would just be awesome.”
Of course, the best-case scenario would be for both of the Colemans to qualify. But if that doesn’t happen there’s still a plan for both of them to be on the course.
“We both are close, neck-and-neck and we’ve always pushed each other,” Kristin said. “If one qualifies and the other doesn’t, the other can caddy. We’ve done that before a couple of times and it’s not too big a deal, not a new thing. But both of us playing, yeah, that would be ideal.”
In their four years at CU, Jenny and Kristin were part of two of the best seasons ever in women’s golf. Those occurred during their sophomore and junior years, when Jenny won the New Mexico Invitational and finished a school-best third in the Pac-12 Conference Championships (both in her junior year). In various tournaments throughout her career, she had seven top five finishes, 10 in the top 10 and 19 in the top 20.
Kelly said both of the Colemans “made good progress with their games, especially Jenny. (She) worked hard on weak areas of her game and improved to a level where she was able to win a collegiate event, contend in several others, earn Pac 12 honors and set numerous CU records.”
“Winning in New Mexico, getting that (first) collegiate win in Division I golf, knowing that I won a tournament was big for me,” Jenny said. “And getting third at Pac-12s, knowing how good a field that was – that was a very good accomplishment.”
Jenny’s school records included most birdies (325) in a career and rounds in the 60s (seven in her career, three in a season). She ranks in the top five in nearly every category in CU’s record book. She was named the Buffs’ most valuable player this season and earned honorable mention all-conference.
Her career stroke average of 75.16 is the second-best in school history (100 rounds) and third-best for 50-plus rounds, and Kristin’s career stroke average is not far behind. Her 77.00 is fourth-best at CU (100 rounds) and eighth-best for 50-plus rounds.
Kristin, said her sister, is “really close. She’s the same as me; she still hasn’t peaked yet. I can just tell that very soon she’s going to be shooting some very low scores. She’s very close to doing really well.”
The twins aren’t far apart in anything. They were dorm mates as freshmen and later shared an apartment. They were classmates throughout their four years. They both graduated with business degrees and are focused on sports marketing as a post-golf pursuit.
Coming out of high school (Palos Verdes Peninsula), there were opportunities for them to go to different colleges and play golf, but going their separate ways wasn’t a serious consideration. “We thought about it,” Kristin said, “but doing it this way has been awesome.”
Doing it any other way, said Jenny, “would be tough to imagine . . . we’ve always had the idea that we wanted to play golf together. We’ve done it our entire life pretty much.”
When the Colemans, of Rolling Hills Estates, Calif., signed with CU, the Buffs were members of the Big 12 Conference. After their freshmen seasons CU entered the Pac-12, which has produced 15 NCAA Division I team championships (Arizona State has won seven). The bar was raised, and Jenny had no objections.
“I thought it was the greatest thing ever,” she said. “I knew how well Pac-12 schools play golf, I knew it was full of very talented girls and teams. I wanted to know who the best players were because I knew I would see them a lot more often. You know where the line is going to be and how well you have to play to compete.”
Over the course of her CU career and even before she arrived in Boulder, much of Jenny’s focus has been on improving her short game. “For the majority of my golfing career my short game has not been up to par,” she said. “Getting it closer and closer has been key for me. I want to get my chipping and putting better and better each time I’m on the course. Both are great ways to save strokes (and) I felt a lot more confident in my putting this past semester.”
The Colemans’ plan is to compete as amateurs through the summer, hopefully qualifying for the U.S. Women’s Amateur at their grandfather’s home course. Following that, they want to attempt the LPGA Q School in August, complete the three stages of turning pro by next winter and launch pro careers.
“Right now, I think I’m continuously getting better and better and showing how much I’ve improved,” Jenny said. “But I’ve still got a lot of room to improve. In my pro career I have more improvement to come; I haven’t peaked yet, for sure.”
She wasn’t speaking for her sister, but she might as well have been. Ask Kristin where her game needs sharpening and, well, it’s a playback of Jenny’s response – her full swing, her short game, her putting, etc.
And, added Kristin, “I need to be more consistent.”
Ditto for Jenny. Both would like consistency to surface in the same round sometime before early August, qualifying them for a trip to Glen Cove, N.Y., and what could be quite a summer celebration in the Coleman family.