Welcome to part 3 of, “Now on the Tee”, an interview series where we delve into the remarkable journeys of women golfers who have embraced…
Now on the Tee: Jordy LaBarbera - Professional Golfer
Welcome to part 2 of, “Now on the Tee”, an interview series where we delve into the remarkable journeys of women golfers who have embraced their passion for the sport and pursued their dreams of making it as a pro. Whether currently excelling in the professional golf circuit or reflecting on their past experiences, these extraordinary women have navigated the challenges, sacrifices, and triumphs that come with the pursuit of a career in golf.
Through candid conversations, we aim to shed light on the dedication, resilience, and unwavering determination that drive these athletes forward, inspiring both golf enthusiasts and aspiring players alike. Join us as we celebrate the accomplishments and stories of these incredible women, proving that the world of golf is becoming a stage where talent and determination shine brighter than ever before.
Hailing from Texas, Jordy LaBarbera is a professional women’s golfer currently competing on the Women's All Pro Tour. From her early days of swinging a golf club under her father's guidance to earning a college scholarship for her prowess, Jordy's journey has been defined by unwavering dedication and undeniable talent.
Transitioning into the professional world, Jordy has already faced and conquered numerous challenges with the support of her dedicated team. Beyond her personal achievements, she has become a passionate advocate for women's golf, encouraging increased visibility through media engagement and highlighting different programs that are getting more women out on the course. We were lucky enough to sit down with Jordy and ask her about her game and the growth of the women’s game at large.
Q: Can you share your journey and experience of fully committing yourself to pursuing a career in golf? What has it been like moving on from competing as a collegiate athlete to turning pro?
Jordy: “Most of the girls who are playing on the Women's All Pro Tour actually played in college, and turned pro right after college. The transition is a bit of a shock because suddenly, you go from having everyone do everything for you to managing your own schedule, finances, travel plans, and basically every aspect of your career. So you become this all-in-one person who's not just playing golf, but also taking care of everything else.”
“It's kind of crazy, especially at the level I'm at. If you graduate and go straight to the LPGA tour, you probably have a manager and a team. But what I've found in my 4.5 years of playing is that having a team is really important.”
“Today, I have a consistent coach, I have a mental coach, I have a chiropractor who helps me with my nutrition. I've got 5 or 6 people who are on my team. I had that in college, but I didn't really realize that I needed to find those people myself after I graduated. So it's been a process these last 4 years, trying to find the right people to work with.”
“But I think I finally got it down to where I know what works best for me. So yes, it has definitely been quite a journey. But I think I'm finally getting it figured out.”
Q: What was the process like in terms of knowing how you wanted to build your team and who you wanted on your team?
Jordy: “Well, I've always had this one coach that I consistently go to. I've had a few other coaches along the way, but I’m still working with my coach who taught me golf while I was growing up. I utilize his expertise whenever it's available.”
“The truth is that I didn't actively seek out most of these coaches. For instance, the guy I work out with at the gym messaged me on Instagram. Initially, I found it a bit creepy, you know, some guy sliding into my DMs asking me about a workout. But I decided to give him a chance, and he's been training me for the past four years. He's been amazing, and really helped transform my physical abilities and increase my drive distance.”
“As for my swing coach, it's kind of an interesting story. He's from South Africa and happened to stay at my house during the AT&T Byron Nelson tournament this year. It's pretty funny how some of these opportunities just came my way without me actively searching for them.”
“But I do think it’s been a great way to go about it because these individuals are genuinely invested in me and my success. They're fully committed to being part of my team, and that's huge for me. It’s definitely better than desperately trying to convince someone to join my team or support me. I want people who genuinely and wholeheartedly want me to perform well. I’ve been pretty fortunate that everything sort of fell into place.”
Q: How do you handle the immense pressure that comes with performing in these tournaments, especially when your livelihood is somewhat tied to how well you do?
Jordy: “This one's a bit tricky. What I do is, before the season kicks off, I try to secure enough funds to cover my entry fees for the entire year. So, that’s definitely a big part of my offseason is raising those funds. Having a little bit of a financial cushion in place for my entry fees helps relieve some of the pressure on me to perform well at every single tournament. It’s definitely nice to not have to think about that side of things while I’m on the course.”
“I can confidently tell myself that, regardless of the outcome in any tournament, I'll still be teeing up next week. The funny thing is I actually think I was feeling the pressure more so in college than I am now.”
"Back in college, I would be in the middle of a tournament round and that thought would creep in - 'Oh my goodness, I need to make this putt or put this in the fairway, or I won't make the cut for the next tournament,' So, it's kind of funny that my life as a pro doesn't have me feeling the heat as much as what I experienced in college."
Q: Why do you think that is?
Jordy: “So, typically, men's golf teams tend to have more players than women's teams. During my time at Arkansas, we usually had around 8 or 9 girls on our team each year, but only 5 of us got to play in tournaments.”
“Every week, we had to compete in qualifiers to determine the top 5 players who would represent the team at the upcoming tournament. If you performed well in a tournament, you earned a spot in the next one. It was sort of based on the coach's decisions, but generally, being in the top 3 meant you were automatically in for the following week. On the flip side, if you placed fourth or fifth, you had to re-qualify to secure your spot.”
“So, doing well in a tournament carried a lot of weight. It essentially meant you were guaranteed a place on the team for at least the upcoming tournament, if not beyond that. The dynamics of college golf were really unique – you had your teammates, but they were also your competitors. I was always cheering for my teammates, but I also had that competitive spirit and knew I had to outperform them to keep my spot.”
Q: Let's turn back the clock and talk about when you first fell in love with golf. Thinking back to those early days, how has women's golf evolved and grown since then?
Jordy: “I developed a strong passion for golf mainly because my dad introduced me to the sport. You could say he nudged me into playing – well, maybe more than nudged. Whenever he headed to the golf course, I was right there with him, so playing became a natural part of the equation.”
“During high school, I attended Allen High School in Texas, which was a pretty big school. Because it was so big, we had to pick just one sport to play. That's when the focus on golf intensified. My dad made it clear that aiming for a basketball scholarship might not be the best route, considering I'm 5'4". So, my sister and I, both not exactly towering over the crowd, honed in on golf. We both wanted to be the best we could be and secure those college scholarships – and we both achieved that goal, which was an incredible feeling.”
“My affection for golf definitely grew during high school. Success has that effect on you; it's hard not to fall for something you’re really good at. But my college experience was a different story. I wasn't at the top of my game, and that struggle actually dampened my love for the sport.”
“Eventually, my dad proposed going to Q school – turning pro and seeing how far I could take it. So I embarked on that journey, and my passion for golf reignited. There's something undeniably captivating about the sport – it creates connections with people you'd probably never cross paths with otherwise.”
“Now, women's golf, it's transformed significantly over the past decade or so. There's a new league of exceptionally skilled girls, and even the amateur circuit is growing a ton. Witnessing this evolution is so exciting, and being a part of it is even better. I’m really excited about the future, and I have a strong hunch that we’re going to see some amazing breakthroughs in the near future.”
Q: Has social media been something you've explored in terms of sponsorship opportunities or not so much?
Jordy: “Initially, when I entered the professional scene, I was pretty actively reaching out to companies, dropping messages like, ‘Hey, I'm a professional athlete. Are there any partnership possibilities?’ But over time, that approach has sort of shifted.”
“There are these Instagram accounts featuring golf stars, and they're really popular, but a lot of them are popular more so for their bodies and not the golf side of it. That's not really the image I want to portray. Since these kinds of accounts gained popularity, I've worked to distance myself from that scene, and definitely want to be fully focused on my game.”
Q: We’ve talked about increasing visibility for the women’s game and bringing more fans into the fold. How would you say others can best support the growth and success of women’s golf moving forward?
Jordy: “I would say, just turn on the TV and watch women's golf because not enough people do. People are definitely starting to, the demographic that seems to love women's golf is like the 60-year-old man, because they can see themselves in the women's game. We hit the ball more similarly, we can do similar things with the ball that they do themselves.”
“The PGA tour is a little bit unrealistic for some people to watch because they're never gonna achieve that level of play. So watching women's golf on TV, and supporting it via any social media is gonna help us big time. The more viewers that we can get, the more the game will grow.”
“Another interesting thing is that in men's and women's tennis, they’re always playing at the same tournaments, and when you go to those tournaments, you’re seeing both the men and women play. I hope that eventually, the tours incorporate some of that into the professional side of golf.”
“I know the WAPT tour is not super high. But I played an event in Texas this year with the men’s side of the All-Pro Tour, and after the cut, they do a men's tee time and a women's tee time. If something like that were to be televised, it would have been so cool and I think really popular with fans. Being able to compete against the men, or even just play at the same place and events, would really help our side of things for sure.”
Q: Any advice for fellow female golfers?
Jordy: “My advice for them is, I know golf can be intimidating. But I also know there are more ways than ever for women to get involved. I’ve been seeing a lot of these girl groups host events that work to get more and more women involved, I think they're called Fore the Ladies. Or if you’re more into casual golf, ladies can head to a sip-and-chip event. It’s basically a space to drink wine, chip a little bit, and have fun with friends. So I’d encourage girls to try and find those types of events. They really help everyone feel at ease and provide a chance to dip your toes into golf.
"For those in the northern part of the United States, there's a fantastic option called 5 Iron Golf. I have some friends that work there, and they organize a lot of great ladies' events. The best part is, it's less intimidating when you're indoors, using simulators. You can also get food and drinks, and it really works to create a welcoming atmosphere for women to give golf a try."
Q: Finally, let's talk about the work you've done with BackSwing Golf Events and the ways it's benefitting the women golfer community.
Jordy: “BackSwing Golf Events have been a great addition to my career. Every time I participate in an event, I receive a nice paycheck that I can use for my next entry fee or other expenses. But beyond that, these events offer incredible networking opportunities. I get to connect with a lot of people, showcase my swing, and maybe even impress them with some shots. It’s opened up a lot of doors for us.”
“There have been situations where someone I met on the golf course, maybe during a pro-am or a tournament, ended up sending me a free set of irons. It's amazing what can happen when you're friendly to people, share some tips, and just have fun on the course.”
“I'm truly grateful to be a part of these events. They not only support my career financially, but also have the ability to open up other opportunities for myself and other girls down the line. It's an exciting prospect, especially for all the women golfers involved.”
Stay tuned for Part 3 of our interview series! These interviews highlight the resilience and determination of these amazing athletes, and we’re thrilled to be sharing their stories.
We are incredibly grateful for our partnership with BackSwing Golf Events, a group of lady professional golfers providing vital support to aspiring athletes like those featured in this series. Together with BackSwing, we're committed to promoting women's golf and inspiring the next generation of talented players to reach for their dreams on and off the course.