With a second-place finish in the LPGA T&CP National Championship on Sept. 6, Oakcrest High School graduate Joanna Coe qualified for the 2018 Women’s PGA Championship.
It is the second time Coe has qualified for a major LPGA tournament, the other coming in 2011 when she competed in the U.S. Women’s Open.
“It’s just really cool to look back at my golf career and to think about where I have been and where I can go with this game,” Coe said. “It’s amazing that I continue to improve and get better. I am just thrilled and super excited.”
Coe, 28, spent four seasons on the Symetra Tour, a development tour for the LPGA, before leaving in 2015. She went pro after graduating from Rollins College, where she had a decorated collegiate career, helping her team capture the 2008 NCAA Division II national championship.
Coe also earned the Rollins Female Athlete of the Year in 2009.
The 2007 Oakcrest graduate has been determined to succeed her entire life and her multiple achievements display her tenacious spirit.
“The thrill of playing well under pressure and with competition is a high in my life,” said Coe, who was named The Press Co-Golfer of the Year in 2007. “It’s why I want to keep playing competitive ball for a long time. It’s what really drives me.”
Bruce Chelucci has been coaching Coe for 17 years, guiding her every step of the way.
“We both experienced all her highs together,” Chelucci said. “I have been there through all her achievements. I am never surprised at what she can accomplish.”
When Coe left the Symetra Tour in 2015, she accepted a position as the director of junior golf at Baltimore Country Club, teaching and developing the youth of the game.
The junior program at BCC ranges from 3-year-old children to young adults before entering college.
“My daily roles are to engage with members and make sure they are happy,” Coe said. “I give them private lessons, whether it’s their full swing, their short game or even being a mental coach.”
When Coe first took the job in 2016, there were about 120 juniors participating. But now there are more than 260, all under her supervision.
“They know that the future of the game and the health of the club is with the juniors,” Coe said. “So, I have an important role.”
But, despite her new career, Coe never desired to abandon playing golf competitively.
Because of her tour experience, Coe became eligible for an accelerated route with the PGA of America. In only a year, she received her PGA Class-A membership and is now a PGA member.
Coe now participates in sectional events in Maryland, Virginia and Washington D.C. Those contests can qualify her for national tournaments.
The Mays Landing native competed in 13 events in 2016, including the Assistant PGA Professional Championship.
“I have played lots of tournament golf since [the Symetra Tour],” Coe said. “This year was around the same as last year. I still play a lot, and it’s less travel, more stability.”
Coe said her game continues to improve, because she is always thinking about the game while teaching at BCC.
“Now that she has a full-time job, I think it took some of the pressure off,” Chelucci said.
And Coe enjoys golf more than ever now.
“I am really happy and healthy,” said Coe. “It’s been a great option for me.”
The stage is now set for Coe as she prepares for the Women’s PGA Championship next June at Kemper Lakes Golf Club outside of Chicago.
“I am hoping that she wins the event,” Chelucci said. “She is good enough to win. One of the best players around, one of the best players I have ever seen. ... I think we are going to see just how good she is really is.”
Chelucci said Coe takes pride in being from South Jersey and wants to win for the area.
“I am going to prepare as best as I can and really just take the pressure off,” Coe said. “Yes, it’s a big deal I am in a major, but I need to go into it thinking it’s not a big deal. If I do that, then I can play really well.”