Daly City, Calif. – When Jamille Jose was just starting to discover the game, her father brought the then-13-year-old to Peach Tree Golf & Country Club in Marysville, Calif., to watch the 1986 U.S. Girls’ Junior.
Jose was awed by the performances, especially Adele Moore, Michiko Hattori and Pat Hurst, who would beat Moore in the championship match.
Two years later, Jose was hoisting the Glenna Collett Vare Trophy at Golden Valley (Minn.) Country Club as the 1988 U.S. Girls’ Junior champion. Her name was permanently engraved with the likes of idols Nancy Lopez, Amy Alcott, Hurst and Hollis Stacy, along with Hall of Famers Mickey Wright and JoAnne Gunderson Carner.
“That was amazing,” she said.
Fast forward 24 years.
Inside the clubhouse Thursday at Lake Merced Golf Club, Jose (now Lee) is introducing her two daughters, Jasmine (10) and Kayla (7), to USGA and club officials at the 2012 U.S. Girls’ Junior.
Donna Lowe, the club’s general manager, retrieves the trophy from her office. While she does, Jamille looks at the 1990 U.S. Junior Amateur Player Scroll that hangs in the foyer. She recognizes the names of Tiger Woods, Chris Riley and Roger Pineda, with whom she played junior golf in the Sacramento area.
Once the trophy is brought out, the group heads to the ninth green. Jasmine and Kayla take turns admiring the trophy and taking pictures with their mom’s phone.
Waves of memories come back for Jamille as she enjoys a special moment with her children.
Nearby, a third-round match is about to begin between defending champion Ariya Jutanugarn and Ashlan Ramsey. Ramsey and her sister/caddie, Taylor, turn to wonder why a USGA photographer is taking group pictures at the ninth green.
For the now-39-year-old Lee, this visit serves as both a refresher course and an introduction.
|Jamille Jose after winning the 1988 U.S. Girls' Junior. (USGA Museum)
Her father introduced her to the Girls’ Junior and maybe this visit can offer inspiration to her children.
“That was an inspiration to me,” said Lee of seeing the Girls’ Junior at 13. “So I was hoping to also do the same for the girls, to see what kind of dedication it takes.”
Lee, who hadn’t been to a Girls’ Junior since 1990 when she played her last at 17, was excited to return to a USGA championship. Now a nurse anesthetist in Napa County, Lee hasn’t played competitively in several years. A reinstated amateur following a brief professional stint, she qualified for a U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur five years ago, but shot rounds of 93-93 at Desert Forest C.C. in Carefree, Ariz., and missed match play. Her last U.S. Women’s Amateur appearance was 18 years ago.
But golf remains a passion. Her husband, Michael, is a former professional who played on the Canadian and South American tours before getting into the club membership field. He’s now a reinstated amateur who plays in Northern California Golf Association events and hopes to qualify for this year’s U.S. Mid-Amateur.
Both of their kids are becoming active and Jamille is hoping the golf bug will bite them. Kayla, the youngest, has asked to go to the driving range where she’ll hit multiple buckets of balls.
The children, however, know that “mommy” did something special long ago. They have seen plenty of pictures.
“She won two Girls’ Junior championships,” said Jasmine. She is quickly reminded by mom that she only claimed one U.S. Girls’ Junior, but two NCGA Girls’ Junior titles.
Ancil Hoffman Golf Course in the Sacramento suburb of Carmichael recently gave Jamille a large photo of her with the U.S. Girls’ Junior trophy that lived in a trophy case at the public facility for 15 years.
While it’s been nearly a quarter-century since that triumph, Jamille still vividly remembers key aspects of the championship. She recalls showing up and seeing all the USGA committee women whom she said was like having “100 moms” there. “They were so warm and welcoming,” said Lee. “And seeing so many girls that were on that level of golf [was neat]. That was something that was almost overwhelming.”
Some of those girls had competed two years earlier when Jamille had made that visit to Peach Tree. And in the semifinals, she eliminated one of those players, Vicki Goetze, 3 and 2. Goetze would win a pair of U.S. Women’s Amateur titles in 1989 and ’92, the latter over Annika Sorenstam.
In the 1988 Girls’ Junior final, Jamille defeated Debbie Parks, 5 and 4.
“The great thing about being 15 is just that no-fear attitude,” she said. “I don’t think I really understood the awesomeness of the whole experience, so I think that almost helped.”
The next year at Pine Needles, Jamille advanced to the semifinals before losing a 23-hole thriller to Camie Hoshino. And in 1990, she failed to make match play at Manasquan River Club in Brielle, N.J., in her final Girls’ Junior.
By winning the ’88 Girls’, Jamille received an exemption to play the U.S. Women’s Open, playing alongside past Girls’ Junior champions Stacy and Alcott.
That year, she also lost to Donna Andrews in the third round of the U.S. Women’s Amateur at Pinehurst No. 2. It was the last time Jamille made a cut in a USGA championship.
She did, however, receive a full scholarship to Stanford University, where she earned a degree in international relations. Following graduation, she worked in a San Francisco investment bank as an analyst before briefly giving the LPGA Tour a try. When she failed to gain her card, Jamille changed careers and focused on becoming a nurse.
This past November, she graduated from the nurse anesthesia program and works at Kaiser Permanente Hospital in Vacaville. The family relocated to Fairfield and last month joined Green Valley Country Club.
In between, Jamille got married in 2000 and had two kids.
Trying to juggle family life with a demanding career isn’t easy, which is why her golf game has become rusty. She admitted that her current handicap was around a 3. But the television at home is constantly on the Golf Channel and Jamille and her husband both try to translate their love of the game to both kids.
Jamille would like to pattern her life after one of her idols, Sally Voss Krueger, a career amateur golfer who went to Stanford and later become an anesthesiologist. Krueger has won numerous titles in Northern California and has competed in many USGA championships.
“I would love to compete again, if I can get my game there,” said Jamille. “I just need to get some practice in. I still know how to get the ball in the hole. It’s just not pretty all the time.”
Perhaps someday it will become a family affair. Occasionally, Jamille will drop a ball 150 yards from the green and let the kids play in to the hole.
On Thursday, both children watched some of the finest female juniors, a position their mom was in two decades ago.
They were also excited to be treated as special guests of the club and USGA. The kids were given their own guest badges, treated to breakfast and lunch, and given T-shirts.
When the trophy was brought out, they saw mom’s name inscribed just below Michelle McGann and above Brandie Burton, both former LPGA Tour winners.
“I love for them to see the girls,” said Jamille, who followed Kathleen Scavo, a 14-year-old from her home club, in her 3-and-2 second-round loss to Nicole Morales. “This [trip here] was really more for me. [But] I think they were excited. I told them they would be special guests today. I think they liked that more than anything.”
When asked if they, too, would like to hoist a golf trophy someday like mom did in the 1980s, Kayla and Jasmine just shrugged their shoulders.
For some, inspiration comes a little slower.
David Shefter is a senior staff writer for the USGA. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.