For some students, prepping for their first year of college means a summer filled with specific books to read. For Monomoy graduate Jen Keim college prep meant a summer filled with golf, and lots of it, including several key tournament wins and finishes.
“I finished my last tournament yesterday before college,” said Keim during a phone interview that took place two days before she made the trek to Florida Atlantic University where she'll soon start her freshman year.
The tournament was the WGAM (Women's Golf Association of Massachusetts) Amateur Championship, in which Keim placed second overall after nearly a week of play.
“It was close,” Keim said.
On Monday, Aug. 8 Keim set out in the championship round among a field of 31 fellow golfers. That day Keim played 19 holes, which was followed by a 14-hole first match, then the quarterfinals, the semifinals, and, on Aug. 11, the finals in which Keim competed against Jacquelyn Eleey in a fierce but friendly battle that saw Keim shoot three birdies.
“It was a good way to end [the summer],” Keim said. “I wanted to play well so I had the confidence to go off to college, so it was good that I played well.”
The WGAM championship wasn't the only tournament in which Keim enjoyed a stellar performance. According to mentor and fan Jack Farrell, who first met Keim in October, Keim soared in several summer events.
Back in June she shot 1-over to come in second in the New England High School Championship held in Keene, N.H. Then, on July 18 and 19, Keim ventured to the Agawam Hunt Club in East Providence, R.I. for the US Challenge Cup Junior Championship, claiming the top spot.
“It's a big deal,” said Farrell. “It's a series of matches they do all season long, and the top 15 qualify.”
Farrell said that the Agawam Hunt Country Club is known as a “very difficult course.”
“Jen shot 83-71 in an unbelievable comeback to win by two,” Farrell said. “The lowest score for anybody else on either day was 78.”
Indeed, many of the scores posted were at or above the 78 mark, which means that Keim's second round was impressive.
“It showed what a fighter she is and how courageous she is,” said Farrell. “She never gives up.”
Next on Keim's list, just one day after her Challenge Cup victory, Keim traveled to the Ponkapoag Golf Club in Canton where she once again claimed first place, this time with scores of 73-75 for a combined score of 148, eight points ahead of the No. 2 golfer in the competition.
“She's had a good summer,” said Farrell. “She's been playing in some big-time tournaments against international competition.”
She was also named Golfer of the Year by the Boston Globe in June.
Now Keim is setting her sights on competing with the team at Florida Atlantic, where she is attending on a scholarship.
“I'm really looking forward to playing in the golf tournaments, be a part of the college team and meet everyone,” she said.
Keim first began playing golf as a young child, chipping and putting with plastic clubs. Developing and honing her skills, and fueling her passion for golf was made easier by being part of a family that loves the sport. Each member of her family – Mom Debbie, dad Ken, and brother Kenny – is an avid golfer, but it is Keim that could take her talents all the way to the LPGA, which is her dream.
“Golf means everything to me," she said in November after signing her Florida Atlantic letter of intent. "Whenever I have a second of free time I go to the golf course.”
Even her summer job of caddying was golf-oriented.
A member of the inaugural Monomoy girls golf team, Keim is nervously excited about getting started at Florida Atlantic.
“I think it will be a lot more competitive,” she said. “Because we were new, some of our matches at [Monomoy] weren't as competitive.”
The style of play will also be different, and Keim will have the added challenge of balancing golf with the schoolwork that comes with her chosen major.
“It's going to be tough because I'm doing nursing,” she said. “But because I took so many AP (advanced placement) classes (at Monomoy), I'm used to being busy. I just got my nursing schedule and they did a good job of balancing it between my golf schedule so nothing coincides with each other.”
Keim said her season officially begins Aug. 28, with the team's first tournament scheduled for sometime in the middle to end of September. She's hoping that her new team has similar spirit to Monomoy's.
“I'm hoping when I go down to FAU, we'll have that too,” she said.
Farrell has no doubts that Keim will soon be enjoying further success, this time at the college level.
“Jen has shown us that she's capable of accomplishing anything she sets out to do,” he said. “If there is anyone who is capable of making that LPGA dream come true, it is Jennifer. Her work ethic, her commitment to her golf game, it's like nothing I've ever seen in any athlete.”