Category - Major Events
2023 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship: At Baltusrol, Jersey Girl Joanna Coe Ready for a Major Homecoming
By Brendon Elliott, PGA and Jeff Babineau
Joanna Coe is no stranger to competitive golf.
Junior tournaments, NCAA championships; Epson Tour events, playing for her country, major championships — at this point in her career, Coe is a seasoned competitive golfer.
As is the case with most PGA Professionals, Coe is not just a highly successful player, she’s also the PGA Director of Instruction at renowned Merion Golf Club near Philadelphia. And starting today at one of the game's most prolific venues, Baltusrol Golf Club in New Jersey — and once again on that big stage — she’s making her fifth straight start in the KPMG Women's PGA Championship.
But this one hits a little different because Coe isn’t just playing in a major championship — she’s doing it in her home state, and Coe can’t decide what makes her look forward to being back in New Jersey more: Is it all the great golf ... or is it the pizza and bagels?
“It’s quite special,” says Coe, who’s from Mays Landing in southern New Jersey. “Same with playing in a major less than two hours from Merion. I played in the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at Aronimink, but it was in the middle of COVID so with no fans and lots of restrictions, it was just not the same.”
I am a proud ‘Jersey girl,’ so I am excited for the players and fans to experience major championship golf at one of the best courses in the state. And I know the sports fans of New Jersey will make it a fun atmosphere!”
Joanna Coe, PGA
Coe started playing golf at age 11 and spent a large part of her childhood at the New Jersey Academy of Golf near her hometown under the tutelage of her instructor Bruce Chelucci. After high school, she attended Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida, where her already solid game started to really flourish.
In her time at Rollins, Coe recorded nine wins and nine runner-up finishes, was a four-time National Golf Coaches Association (NGCA) All-American (2008-11), the Individual winner of the 2008 NCAA Division II Women’s Golf Championship, member of the winning 2008 NCAA Division II Women's Golf Championship team, a three-time NGCA All-South Region First Team selection (2008-10) and the 2009 Rollins College Female Athlete of the Year.
Rollins’ Head Women's Golf Coach Julie Garner saw greatness in Coe, before she even teed it up for the Tars.
“Before I even watched her as a recruit, I heard from our alumni Peggy Kirk Bell about how solid a player Joanna was,” says Garner. “Mrs. Bell picked her swing out of all the girls playing in the junior tournament at Pine Needles and said, ‘That kid’s a player!’ That’s high cotton to get that type of compliment from The Great One, PKB.”
Garner went on to talk about what made Coe different.
“The sound of her contact was so good,” notes Garner. “The speed off the tee and the sound of an iron being hit right on the center of the face — it’s music to a coach’s ears! And Joanna has always been a student of the game, so her success as a teacher doesn’t surprise me a bit.”
Garner’s advice to one of her star alums?
“Fairways and greens, Joanna!” she says. “And as Mrs. Bell would say, “Make those putts!”
Getting ready to play a major during the busiest part of her golf season is a true challenge, but Coe says she tries to sneak in as much practice and rounds as she can manage this time of year. It can be tiring, but it’s worth it.
“If I just keep my golf swing in a place where I know it can function under pressure, then that's really the goal,” says Coe. “ And then it's taking care of my health. I've had some knee issues in the past, so working out, eating well, taking care of my body, taking care of those things, because golf is already hard enough.
“I'm on the lesson tee 8:30 to 6 or 7 p.m. It's exhausting. As soon as I go home, I eat dinner and I'm out. This time of year, it's a grind, but I love it. I love it more than anything. I can't imagine doing anything else.”
Coe said there will be a busload of members from Merion that are headed to Baltusrol to watch her play. That’s pretty cool. And as always, there is something she will pick up this week that will be valuable in her teaching when she returns home.
“I always come back with a lesson or two, that can help them win a club championship or a junior championship, or break 90 for the first time,” she says. “I try to help them understand what it feels like to do it under pressure.”
Coe tees off in the first round at 7:33 a.m. ET at Baltusrol’s restored Lower Course, and there’s no doubt there will be a little pressure — but she’s ready for it . . . and will remember that first tee shot forever.
“My goal is to live in the moment, cherish every experience, but also make myself, family, friends and the PGA of America proud,” Coe says. “And to hit just a few good shots.”