When girl golfers at The Bishop’s School look for advice on improving their games this fall, they know they’ll be getting it from a professional. Their new coach is a former professional golfer and currently a club pro at one of the area’s most highly respected golf courses.
Jacqui McSorley takes over the Knights program this year and brings with her a wealth of experience from years in the game. A PGA professional at Encinitas Ranch, she was a San Diego high school star in the late 1970s and went on to play professionally in Japan for seven years.
She said coaching at the high school level is something she enjoys immensely, an activity that brings her back to her roots.
“It’s my way of giving back to girls golf,” McSorley said.
McSorley - then Jacqui Nicoletti - graduated in 1980 from Point Loma High School, where she starred on the boys golf team because there was no team for girls. She earned a full scholarship to play golf at USC and went on to pursue a career as a touring pro.
She played on some mini tours in the United States and narrowly missed qualifying to play in the LPGA, she said, so she took her game to Japan. There, she made the Japanese LPGA in 1986 and played for seven seasons.
McSorley said she won several pro-am tournaments and had a handful of top-10 finishes in Japan. The birth of her first child in 1992 brought an end to her playing career and triggered her return to the San Diego area.
Now 41, McSorley is married with two children and has seemingly been as busy since she retired from playing. Aside from her duties at Encinitas Ranch and at Bishop’s, she also home-schools her children and has been approached about writing a book for kids about golf. Those are just a few of the many ways she’s been involved in the game.
McSorley operated her own golf school for a few years, then worked three years as a club pro at Morgan Run before landing at Encinitas Ranch, where she’s been ever since.
McSorley first delved into the world of high school coaching when she took over the program at Our Lady of the Peace High School on a whim five years ago.
“A girl I had played junior golf with had coached there for eight years and asked me to do it,” McSorley said. “I said, ‘Sure.’ It turned out to be really fun.”
McSorley’s teams did well at Our Lady of the Peace, and earned a Western League title in her final year there last fall.
She said it has been gratifying to work with high school girls, who didn’t have the same opportunities to play golf when she was in school. They either played on the boys team or didn’t play at all.
“Girls playing with girls provides a different chemistry and dynamic,” she said. “It’s a lot better for girls golf. In the four years since it became a CIF-sanctioned sport, the progress girls have made has been amazing. I really saw some progress at OLP.”
The interest in girls golf at Bishop’s has been tepid at best over the past few years, but McSorley hopes to encourage athletes to come out and to keep them interested in the sport. She knows the challenges she’s up against with the school’s strict academic standards, but is hoping players can benefit from playing golf.
“I know these girls are just hammered with homework,” McSorley said. “I’ll try to have them focus on golf for 1 1/2 to 2 hours at a time. Hopefully they’ll learn some time management and learn to focus.”
The Knights play in the four-team Coastal League, with La Jolla Country Day, Francis Parker and San Dieguito Academy. Their home matches are at La Jolla Country Club, and McSorley said they’ll try to get in some practice time at Torrey Pines and at La Jolla Beach and Tennis.
“I need to give them things to practice so it will reflect in their scores,” she said.
The Knights weren’t scheduled to have their first practice until school opened Aug. 31, so McSorley said she didn’t know what to expect out of her team this season. She hoped to have about seven or eight girls come out for the team and start preparing for the Knights’ first match Sept. 14 against Poway.
“I think it will be fun,” McSorley said. “They seem like very mature girls.”