The Pro’s Corner: Kathy G-Jensen, 2014 PGA Teacher of the Year

by Clifford Cowley

Kathy Gildersleeve-Jensen

Occupation: Director of Golf Instruction

                     Co-Founder of Jensen Lindeblad Impact Golf Academy

Location: Indian Canyon Golf Course, Spokane, WA

Pro Status: Class a Certified Member 1990

KGJKathy Gildersleeve-Jensen or Kathy G-Jensen, as she’s known on Facebook “or just Kathy,” she says, grew up in Baker City, Ore.  Both her parents were avid golfers. Her dad was a scratch player and played for the WSU Cougars.  Her mom was a 10 handicapper.  Over the years, her dad was instrumental in organizing and developing junior programs.  “To this day,” says Kathy, “he has three PGA Golf Professionals to his credit, including me!”  Sadly, her mother passed away in 1992. “She guides me every day,” says Kathy.  “She’s playing golf in heaven now, but she is always with me.”

“We spent many afternoons and weekends on the golf course when I was growing up,” says Kathy.  In high school, Kathy remembers walking up the hill from her house and using the family’s three-wheeled Harley golf cart to buzz around the course.  She’d get out of school at 12:30, head to the course and play until dark (not that she was hooked or nothing).  “Golf was my life,” admits Kathy. “Golf IS life,” she adds.

Since her school had no golf team, she played other sports as well. She played varsity volleyball and basketball all four years.  She also attended junior golf tournaments, which were often 50-180 miles away. After non-stop pleading, she convinced her parents to let her attend Billy Casper’s Golf Camp in San Diego every summer.  Her game really came on during that time and she received the “Billy Casper Award” three consecutive seasons.  “Billy Casper was the first golf professional I ever met,” says Kathy.  “I even got to play cards with him [Hearts].  That was fun!”

After graduating from Baker City High School in 1981, Kathy attended Oregon State University on a golf scholarship (Go Beavers!).  Her parents moved to Spokane while she was in college, and in 1985 while visiting her parents, she landed a golf job at Downriver Golf Course.  Under the tutelage of Northwest legend Joe Durgan, she completed her quest to become a PGA Member in 1990.

Along the way, her family has had a significant impact on her life and her game.  Her grandfather taught her to introduce herself clearly, and loudly.  Her other grandparents were always around to keep her in line with society, and her dad has always been a huge supporter of her career and family. Her husband, Jim, who is the Head Golf Course Superintendent at Deer Park Golf Club, has been her rock and best friend for over 20 years.  Her daughter, Brianna, and son, Chase, have given her the joys of motherhood.

Golf Path

Professionally, Kathy has put in her time and paid her dues.  She spent 10 years alternating seasons at different golf facilities from Coeur d’Alene, Idaho to Mesa and Tucson, Arizona.   PGA Life Member Ken Pruitt helped guide her through those growing years.  During that time, she continued to hone her skills as a teacher.  She enlisted the help of Sports Psychologist Chuck Hogan, and became a master club fitter. “My knowledge from the Henry-Griffitts staff and Chuck Hogan, impacted my teaching forever,” says Kathy.

In 1990, she accepted the Head Golf Professional position at The Highlands Golf & Country Club in Post Falls, Idaho.  In 1996, she wanted to settle in one place to raise her family.  She and her husband spent 15 years at Deer Park Golf Club in Washington.  In August 2010, she ventured to Randy Henry’s Dynamic Golf Academy, which is located at the Coeur d’Alene Resort Plaza Shops.

Currently, she is the Director of Golf Instruction and Co-Founder of Jensen Lindeblad Impact Golf Academy located at Indian Canyon Golf Course in Spokane. “I am lucky to have a great Head Golf Professional in Gary Lindeblad who is a member of the Hall of Fame in the PNWPGA Section, and like Joe Durgan, is a northwest legend.  He has given me the freedom to spread my wings and fly.  I had been looking for something that I could work at year-round while keeping my kids in a great school system. The academy has been the ticket,” she says. Kathy continues to play in local Pro-Ams and Tournaments, and she is very involved with junior golf, and enjoys working with high school and college students as well.  She also enjoys her work as a Rules Official, and in the governance of the IEPGA Chapter and PNWPGA Section.

Recently, she was awarded the 2012 PNWPGA Golf Teacher of the Year, and was just notified that she is one of the three finalists for the 2013 PGA National Golf Teacher of the Year.  That means she is one of the top three finalists out of all 27,000 PGA Members in the nation being considered for the prestigious award.  “This is a massive honor from my mentors and peers.  It is truly humbling,” says Kathy.

Golf Instruction–Science and Style

Kathy’s bottom line is that golfers want to improve, make better contact, and have fun ‘now’”  In order to achieve that, Kathy personalizes her golf instruction to find an individual’s balanced swing tendencies through video analysis.  Then she uses the “swing fitting” style to customize a swing that fits the individual’s physical makeup.  She then “attaches” custom fitted equipment to fit their personal swing. “Developing a swing that fits a golfer’s physical makeup and fitting clubs to that aspect transforms into solid ball contact and lower scores,” she says. “Although, sometimes it is in reverse order,” she adds. According to Kathy, complete golf instruction must involve actual playing time as well. “Golf is more than hitting balls on the driving range,” she says. “It is also learning to play the game creatively and coping with the intangible elements of weather, and terrain.” Her mission is to give golfers a great product with great results.

Kathy is known for her innovative teaching techniques that embrace modern technology.  “My business is customized towards mobility and communication so I can teach from anywhere and anytime, year round, even in the Pacific Northwest!” she says laughing.

In her work as a professional, Kathy considers herself lucky. “I am a mother, a wife, a teacher, an author and an entrepreneur. I have been fortunate to have such a terrific village of people surrounding me and my golf career.  I love golf so much.  It has taught me the values of life, and relationships.  It has given me more than I could ever give back, although I am determined to help grow the game as much as it has grown me.”  Indeed, Kathy Gildersleeve-Jensen grew up in golf, and her impact on the game of golf has helped grow the game.

Carry on, Kathy.

What’s In Kathy’s Bag?

“I prefer total customization,” she says.

  • Driver: Henry-Griffitts Praxis 11º
  • Fairway Metal 5: Henry-Griffitts Praxis 18º and 3º Flat
  • Hybrids 3 & 5:  Henry-Griffitts Praxis Rescue
  • Irons: 5-PW, SW 51º, SW56º, SW 60º  Henry-Griffitts T12 Chrome–Steel Shafts, 7º Flat Lie Angle
  • Putter: Odyssey Mini-T, 3º Flat 29 ½” length
  • Golf Ball: Titleist Pro-V1x