The Concordia women’s golf team may have the best threesome at the front of its lineup of any squad in the GPAC, but it’s going to need Emma Jacoby in order to complete that terrific trifecta. The product of Lincoln North Star High School intends to make the Bulldogs a contender at the top of the GPAC mix.
Senior Amy Ahlers is a well-known commodity with a legitimate shot at a conference title this spring. She may be the most accomplished of Bulldog returners, but Jacoby could be nipping at her heels on the GPAC leaderboard should she return to the form that saw her win GPAC Qualifier No. 2 her freshman season.
Now a junior, Jacoby simply has to get over the doubts that creeped in after discomfort in her shoulder forced her out of action this past spring.
“I think I’m getting close,” Jacoby said. “A lot of it is mental – just remembering how to go out there and play well, having a good mental game and making sure my swing is under control. I don’t want to have to think about it too much out there. I feel like it shouldn’t take me too long to get back into it. It’s something I’ve done for a long time. It’s not something I’ve totally lost, but I’m definitely working hard to get back to that point.”
“Back to that point” means again competing inside the top 10 of the GPAC as she did her rookie season when she finished in a tie for seventh in the conference. She experienced similar success last fall, even shooting a career low single-round score of 80 at the Midland Invite.
Jacoby, who grew up in the shadows of Highlands Golf Course, now the home course of the Bulldogs, expected big things out of herself as a collegiate golfer coming off an impressive high school run. While at North Star, she collected 24 medals, qualified for the state championships every year and placed sixth at the Class A state tournament her senior year.
Thus why head coach Brett Muller, while sitting down to preview the 2016-17 season in the middle of August, was happy to learn that Jacoby was on the course that same day, playing with her father.
“I’ve rehabbed my shoulder a ton,” Jacoby said. “They’ve been working with me to try to get that under control. It’s been stressful not being able to play until now. The last couple of weeks I’ve been able to play 18 holes and it’s been good. I’ve been working on my short game and mental game to prepare for the season.”
The real test comes Sept. 1-2 when Concordia’s talented trio of Ahlers, Jacoby and freshman Murphy Sears makes its 2016-17 debut at the Mount Marty Invite. A good showing at the two-day event would do wonders for the confidence of Jacoby. She says she really just needs to get back out in a tournament setting once again to prove to herself that she’s ready.
“I feel like I’m swinging OK, but I’m still kind of protecting it,” Jacoby said. “I tried to play over spring break, which is when we really realized it was not doing so well. As soon as I can play in a tournament I’ll feel more comfortable with it. I’m just a little hesitant at first. As soon as I have that atmosphere that I’m used to I think it will be back to normal.”
A “back-to-normal” Jacoby would be a very big thing for Concordia women’s golf in a wide-open conference race. The program has made strides in recent years. Last season they hoped to be in the running for a berth in the national tournament. A rough GPAC No. 3 without the services of Jacoby negated any chance they may have had.
Perhaps this season Jacoby’s return to the course will spark Concordia in its endeavors to climb the GPAC ladder.
“I think we can accomplish a lot,” Jacoby said. “Even though we do have some losses, I think Amy has worked really hard this summer. She’s playing well as usual. If I can get back in it and play well I think we can definitely move up the conference. That’s our goal. We had a couple wins last year which was awesome.”