Jenna Solheim Leaving Her Own Mark On Cowgirl Golf Program
Oklahoma State golf has been an important part of the Solheim family for decades, and Cowgirl golfer Jenna Solheim is the latest member of her family to partake in the tradition, but is finding ways to leave a unique legacy. at Stillwater. .
The lineage began with Karsten Solheim, Jenna’s great-grandfather, who made his mark on golf and revolutionized the game when he founded the PING golf club company in the 1960s.
Karsten was interested in designing the world’s first balanced heel-toe putter, and in doing so, he changed the game of golf forever.
Over the years, one of Karsten’s most important principles was to give back to the game that meant so much to him. He supported collegiate golf and made it a priority within his company, making contributions to numerous sports centers at universities, including Oklahoma State. After opening in 1994, Karsten Creek Golf Club, the home course for both the men’s and women’s programs, was named in honor of Solheim for her generosity and commitment to golf in Oklahoma State.
The legacy continued with Jenna’s father, Andrew, a successful golfer at Oklahoma State and teammate of current Cowgirl Golf Head Coach Greg Robertson in the 1990s.
Jenna was born in Stillwater while her father was still completing graduate school at OSU. Soon after, however, her family moved to Phoenix, Arizona, where she spent the majority of her childhood and teenage years.
Despite the move, Jenna always remained connected to Oklahoma State while growing up, supporting and encouraging her family’s college from afar. No distance was going to get in the way of his loyalty to the school.
His family took every opportunity to see the Cowboys and Cowgirls in person, even traveling to and from Stillwater over the years.
“Whenever OSU was in Arizona, we would go watch them play football or golf,” Jenna recalled. “We used to come to Stillwater at least once a year, but usually twice for a basketball game and a football game. Then for the last few years before I went to college, we always went to Homecoming … So, I grew up always coming to Karsten Creek and being part of OSU.”
Although Jenna shared an affection for Oklahoma State with her parents, she didn’t always envision attending OSU or even playing golf competitively. Instead, she often envisioned creating a totally new journey for herself.
“For a very long time, I didn’t want to come to OSU, because it was at my parents’ house,” she explained. “It was fun, but it wasn’t really where I saw myself, especially coming from a big city.”
Growing up, Jenna played golf here and there, mostly as a hobby for fun. She enjoyed playing with her dad and took a few lessons, but she was also interested in learning about other sports like basketball, swimming, and track and field.
“My parents never forced me to play golf and it was always there if I wanted to, but to me it usually seemed boring when I was a kid,” Jenna said.
It wasn’t until Jenna’s freshman year of high school that her whole outlook on the future changed.
Jenna traveled to Stillwater to attend a golf camp with the Cowgirls, getting the chance to practice and hang out with the team. The camp was his first opportunity to really imagine what life in Oklahoma State might be like in his own way, rather than as a fan or supporter.
She loved everything about the experience and made her fall in love with the game that has always meant so much to her family.
“That’s when I really started having the idea of wanting to play here and go to school here,” she said. “After this summer, I was quite determined to come here.”
From that moment, Jenna decided what she wanted her future to look like. She started training seriously and invested more time in golf, determined to make her new goal a reality.
Jenna’s high school didn’t have a women’s golf program, but she was able to join the men’s team as a junior, which gave her more experience and time on the course. . As a senior, another girl from school decided to play alongside Jenna, allowing the two to form their own women’s team and compete in tournaments, even if only individually.
After graduating from high school in 2019, Jenna joined the Cowgirl golf team as a walk-on, adding yet another section to her family’s connection to the game that began over 60 years ago. years.
Throughout her life, Jenna had always felt proud of her family line and the monumental effect she had in Stillwater. When she joined the team, however, those feelings certainly took on a whole new level, feeling that impact firsthand every day while playing the course in honor of her family.
This story still inspires him, even four years later now as a senior in the team.
“I’m very proud of the legacy my great-grandfather left behind,” Jenna shared. “It really motivates me and inspires me to be like them.
“It’s a really special place and going out [to Karsten Creek]it’s motivating for me to see my family’s name here and know that we’ve invested here because my family believes in what’s happening here… It’s really motivating and inspiring, and it’s a legacy which I want to help contribute.”
While in Stillwater, Jenna used that inspiration to add to her family’s legacy, while being confident enough to do it her own way.
Since her freshman year in 2019, she has improved tremendously only through hard work and an incredible commitment to betterment. Jenna has qualified to play in four different tournaments as an individual during her career, including one last fall at the Grace Shin Invitational.
It’s easy to see how far Jenna has come during her time at Stillwater, having slashed her stroke average by almost 30 since arriving on campus four years ago.
Jenna has also made an impact outside of class, getting involved in many leadership groups and organizations on campus. She always stood out in class and graduated after the fall semester 2022 with degrees in marketing and management.
“I’ve found a great community in Stillwater that I don’t think I’ve found anywhere else,” said of her college-wide involvement. “I have a lot of family roots here and it probably makes me feel like home in many ways, but it’s the people here who really make you feel at home and do part of a family.”
In addition to her strong work ethic and successes off the course, Jenna’s chapter in her family legacy will focus on the special relationships she forged with her teammates and the immense impact she had on them.
As a senior, Jenna is one of the team’s most respected leaders. She is committed to improving both herself and the team, while creating lifelong bonds with each of her teammates.
“I’m part of something bigger than me,” Jenna said. “I play with all these girls and I have an impact on them, and they have an impact on me too. We all have the same goals. We’re all trying to win, but we’re also just best friends, which is the best part.
“I’m proud to be a friend of my teammates. Obviously I don’t play as much in the team, so I wanted to make sure I’m the best teammate I can be. I’ve always had a very positive attitude. and outlook on life, and it helps that all of my teammates are my best friends. It’s easy to be a teammate to them. It’s easy to cheer them on. I try to do whatever I can for them. set up and encourage them.
Jenna’s constant positivity and encouragement is one of the things that makes her such a memorable team player, whether she makes it to tournaments or not.
“It’s a breath of fresh air,” Maddison Hinson-Tolchard said of her teammate. “She’s always positive around the course. She loves golf.
“When you go out and play with her, it’s always a good time. Before you play tournaments, she always sends a message from here to Stillwater saying ‘good luck and go get them today’ and stuff like It’s just a very positive and uplifting, which is part of why we’re doing so well.”
The preview posts are a perfect example of Jenna’s infectious attitude. In each text, she sends the girls a list of five affirmations to uplift them, ending each message with “You are a winner.”
Regardless of her deep ties to the program, Jenna has no sense of an ego or entitlement. Instead, just a burning passion to do whatever it takes to help the team win and see those around it succeed.
“I want to do everything I can to serve them as a teammate,” Jenna said. “Trying to be the best I can be for them is something I’ve always strived for.”
The effect Jenna has had on the program has not gone unnoticed by Coach Robertson, as she received a scholarship for her efforts at the start of the 2022-23 season. It was a special moment for Jenna to see how far she had come as a player and a teammate.
When asked what was her favorite part of her time at OSU, Jenna again mentioned the relationships that were the foundation of her Cowgirl career.
“My teammates, for sure. It’s hard work being a student-athlete, waking up for 6:30 a.m. practices and being out there. [at the course] every weekend. It’s a lot of hard work and discipline, but doing it with my teammates and having them to lean on through it all is worth it.”