Kiana Jongsma learned at an early age that it’s more fun to golf with friends. That’s how the Lake Central senior got her start.
When she was little, she always felt bad for her grandmother, Elizabeth Paulsen, if she couldn’t find anyone to golf with at Woodmar Country Club.
“I told her, ‘One day when I grow up I’m going to be your buddy,’” Jongsma said. “So then she started signing me up for golf, and that got me started with everything.”
Jongsma has come a long way since getting started at the age of six. She’s coming off a solid junior season where she shot rounds of 80 and 84 to finish 32nd individually at the state finals. She’s also a Valparaiso University recruit.
“I want to bring all of them with me, and I think we have a pretty good chance this year,” Jongsma said of the Indians’ quest to qualify at state as a team.
Jongsma and teammate Kylie Shoemake both qualified as individuals last year, so the optimism is high.
Jongsma is averaging 40.5 for nine holes so far this season and has helped L.C. to second place finishes in its own invite and tournaments at Kankakee Valley and McCutcheon. She shot a career best 75 at Monday’s DAC meet to finish second overall as L.C. also took second.
“She works hard,” L.C. coach Chris Rossiano said. “She drives the younger girls to and from practice. She works at a golf course, and after work she practices on her own. She played in tournaments all summer and her grades are good.”
Rossiano said Jongsma gets great distance on her shots, especially her irons. She’s working hard to improve her short game.
“She’s been playing good, and I know the scores will go down as the year goes on,” he said.
Qualifying for state as a junior and committing to Valpo has not only taken a little pressure off but has made her a better golfer.
Rossiano said it’s also improved her focus.
“It gave her the confidence to go out and finish this last season to the best of her abilities,” he said.
Jongsma, in her third varsity season, has done it while maintaining a 3.5 GPA and working a part-time job.
“Between work and school, I try to get in as much practice in as I can,” she said. “I work at White Hawk, and after work I’ll sit there and practice for four or five hours. I’ll play and hit the range forever.”