GLEN COVE, N.Y. – Jenny and Kristin Coleman have spent a lifetime competing against and alongside each other.
The identical twins, 21 years old, are enjoying one last chance to do that as amateurs at this week’s U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship at Nassau Country Club. They are one of four sets of sisters in the field, but the only set of twins.
Both graduated in the spring from the University of Colorado with identical degrees in business marketing. Roommates for four years in Boulder, they also spent four years as teammates on the women’s golf team.
The twins helped the Buffaloes advance to the NCAA regionals three times and into the 2012 NCAA Championship as sophomores. Individually, Jenny posted seven top-five finishes and 10 top-10 finishes in her career, and holds the school record for birdies with 325.
Jenny and Kristin credit each other for making it easier to travel and play competitive golf. They will take their next steps in golf later this month in Florida at the first stage of LPGA Tour Q-School, where they will celebrate their 22nd birthdays. Both hope to gain status on either the LPGA Tour or the developmental Symetra Tour.
When my sister is around, there’s an automatic friend to live with, practice with, travel with, play practice rounds with and to offer support, said Kristin, who is one minute older and a half-inch taller (5-foot-10) than her sibling. It’s been like this our whole lives.
It’s actually nice to have someone to practice with and to help you keep your game sharp, added Jenny, who played one group behind her sister in the first and second rounds of stroke-play qualifying on Monday and Tuesday. Jennifer finished at 5-over 145, seven strokes better than her sister, and was likely to make match play.
If the two earn professional status for 2015, they will likely pair up and hit the road together in their shared automobile or spend sizable amounts of time together in airports traveling around the country and world to tournaments.
But this week is all about their last amateur competition on a familiar course. Their grandfather, Daniel Coleman, is a longtime member at Nassau Country Club and the twins have played the venerable Seth Raynor design many times while visiting their grandfather from their home in Rolling Hills Estates, Calif.
I think Kristin made an eagle on hole No. 3 when it was still a par 4, said Jenny, in reference to the recent renovations to the course.
Daniel, formerly a single-digit handicap, has offered course strategy to his granddaughters, as well as tips about Nassau’s challenging greens. The three played a practice round together last week.
When competition began on Monday, Daniel followed both players on the course with the aid of an electric scooter. Seven other family members from the New York area have also supported the twins.
The twins’ parents also flew from California to watch them compete in their first USGA championship together. The USGA conveniently grouped the twins with back-to-back tee times, as was the case with the three other sister combinations in the field.
It makes it more exciting that they’re both here for the 100th anniversary of the Women’s Am being held at their grandfather’s course in their last event as amateurs, said their father, Colin Coleman. It’s a big deal to the family. This is the grand finale.
Colin and Barbara Coleman have followed their daughters for years, watching them compete in club soccer (both were forwards and midfielders) and fast-pitch softball (both were pitchers and infielders), before settling into golf. While both girls were focused competitors, they have always been each other’s top cheerleader.
We’ve always pushed each other, said Kristin.
In golf, my full swing is stronger and her short game is better, added Jenny. We help each other improve.
But the sisters’ respective competitiveness has never gotten in the way of their mutual support.
If one had success, then they both had success, said Colin. They have always been in everything together. For example, in soccer, if one took penalty kicks, the other one wanted to take penalty kicks.
The Coleman family has planned family vacations and travel around the twins’ competitive schedules. At Colorado, the parents tried to attend at least one tournament per month.
It’s a parent’s dream to watch your kids compete, said Colin, an avid golfer who works in finance with Northrop-Grumman. This is what we do for vacation and this is how we stretch out vacation time from our jobs to come watch them.
The twins have qualified for previous USGA championships: Kristin for the 2009 U.S. Girls’ Junior, and Jenny at last year’s U.S. Women’s Amateur.
Now with each twin competing this week, the family cheering section has spread into two different fairways.
The back-to-back pairings makes it easy to watch them, said Barbara. Otherwise, we split up to follow them.
And when the week ends, the two will once again move on together toward the next chapter in their respective careers.
It’s exciting, but on the other hand, it’s like, ‘Wow, this is the end,’ said Jenny, who was named Colorado’s 2013-14 most valuable player and an honorable-mention 2014 all-Pac-12 selection.
Added Kristin: This is a great tournament to end our amateur careers.
Lisa D. Mickey is a Florida-based freelance writer whose work has previously appeared on USGA websites.