In a sport known for its child prodigies, Jessie Gerry x’12 stands out for a different reason. She never set foot on a golf green until high school, and even then, golfing was never meant to become her destiny.
“I always played a ton of different sports. I played soccer in the fall, basketball in the winter, and I [thought], ‘What am I going to do in the spring?’ ’’ she says. Options at the private school she attended in Madison were limited, so she joined the boys’ golf team with no expectations beyond learning a new sport. “It was either golf or track and field,” she recalls, “and I’m not a huge fan of running.”
Apparently, she’s a quick study. She distinguished herself as a top UW golfer only four years later, winning the 2008 Badger Invitational as a freshman. That’s an impressive feat in itself, as many golfers never record an individual win during their careers. But Gerry takes low scores to another level: during the last four years, she has set school records for 9, 18, 36, and 54 holes, three of which still stand.
The discipline that brings success on the golf course also helps balance Gerry’s academic life. Despite traveling frequently to tournaments for up to five days at a time, in 2011 she earned Academic All-Big Ten honors, awarded to student athletes with a GPA of 3.0 or higher. Currently studying physical education in the kinesiology program, Gerry plans to pursue playing in the Ladies Professional Golf Association after graduating in December. Regardless of what the future brings, she says she plans to never stop playing the sport she loves.
“There’s just something about the game,” she says, “something about stepping on the first tee every day and knowing that, ‘Hey, I could go out and shoot the lowest round I’ve ever shot today.’ It’s mentally challenging, it’s physically tough … and those are all aspects that I really enjoy.”