Big Break Mexico Competitor
Current Residence: Scottsdale, Ariz.
Hometown: Uniontown, Ohio
Home Course: Wildfire Golf Club, Phoenix, Ariz. / The Gallery Golf Club at Dove Mountain, Marana, Ariz. / Orange Tree Golf Resort, Phoenix, Ariz.
College: Kent State University
- Turned professional in 2012
- Four top-10s on the 2012 Cactus Tour
- Competing on the CN Canadian Women’s Tour and State Opens in 2013
- Partial status on the Symetra Tour in 2013
Similar to most of her fellow competitors on Big Break Mexico, McKenzie Jackson was a multiple-sport athlete growing up. Golf, however was not McKenzie’s sport of choice. Softball was McKenzie’s passion.
“I did not even like golf growing up,” joked McKenzie.
During her sophomore year in high school, she decided to try out for the high school golf team. Her first round of golf ever was her nine-hole high school tryout. She used men’s clubs. The tryout was a joke between her and a friend.
Until she earned a spot on the women’s golf team with a score of 55.
“My dad couldn’t believe it,” recalled McKenzie, whose father is an avid golfer.
She soon realized she had a natural talent for the game. One month after her tryout, she recorded a 41 in her first competitive round. It was then she and her father began to get serious about her game.
McKenzie continued to play softball all through high school, and developed into a two-sport athlete – softball in the spring and golf in the fall. Softball continued to be her focus, with golf on the periphery. She competed in select local junior tournaments when her schedule allowed. One year after taking up the game for the first time, she broke 80 in a local junior tournament (76). She considered pursuing the college golf avenue more seriously.
“Growing up in Ohio, I had my heart set on attending Kent State University for softball,” explained McKenzie. “My dad and I both saw the potential I had in golf. We discussed the opportunities in golf compared to softball on a professional level, and golf won out.”
The assistant women’s golf coach at Kent State took notice of her during a local amateur tournament and saw her potential. The coaches offered her an opportunity to walk on. She committed immediately.
“I will forever be grateful for that opportunity to prove myself,” said McKenzie.
The assistant coach also happens to be a Big Break alumnus – Jan Dowling (Big Break III: Ladies Only) – who is now the University of Tennessee’s assistant women’s golf coach.
Through hard work and determination, McKenzie ultimately earned a scholarship to Kent State her sophomore year. With a knee injury curtailing her junior season, she returned her senior year. Motivated by the men’s assistant golf coach, Rob Wakeling, and her father, she was determined to finish her collegiate golf career on a high note. She earned her best finish in a collegiate event her senior year at the 2011 Lady Buckeye Invitational, finishing in 21st place.
Following graduation, she turned professional and continued to push herself on this relatively new dream of hers to be a professional golfer. She moved to Scottsdale, Ariz., and joined the Cactus Tour, where she found moderate success in 2012, including a season-best third place finish at one of the season’s early events.
The pressure to succeed and the grind of the season took its toll on McKenzie, however, to the point where she had enough. She told her family she needed a break from the game in November of last year.
“After my injury my junior year, it almost felt like I had to start over and prove myself to everyone all over again,” said McKenzie. “The past two years just took its toll on me mentally. I wanted so badly to get on the LPGA Tour that I lost focus on why I started to play the game in the first place – because I loved it.”
After a few weeks away from the game, she felt refreshed and mentally prepared for 2013, and began focus on her 2013 schedule. Two days later, she received a phone call. She was cast as a competitor on Big Break Mexico.
“I couldn’t believe it when I got picked,” recalled McKenzie. “My dad always tells me, ‘Good things happen to good people.’ After being called to come on Big Break Mexico, I know firmly believe that.”