Boonsboro Country Club members have seen a new face around the golf course since mid-May. Jillian Drinkard spends her days mentoring girls in the club’s PGA Junior League program, teaching others lessons and playing a round or two with the members.
Drinkard isn’t exactly a new face to those familiar with the Bedford County course. She already interned with Aaron Marks the summer after her freshman year at Methodist University, and she recently competed in her fourth Donna Andrews Invitational golf tournament.
What’s different this time around for the Appomattox native is that she was hired in Boonsboro to give the country club a female voice on the course. Drinkard is the third woman on the golf staff in the country club’s 99-year history. Marshall Langhammer was the first female staff when she was an LPGA pro for 18 months in the late 1990s, and teaching pro Berenice Fedder spent two years in Boonsboro and retired a decade ago. .
It was a no-brainer for Marks to add Drinkard to the fold.
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“I’ve been trying to find an assistant for about three years now. We tried to find one just because it creates a diverse workforce, which is what we’re looking for here,” Marks said. “…She’s very good at golf, she’s an incredibly nice person, I think she has a great future, I think she’s going to be a good teacher.”
The popularity of women’s golf has steadily increased in the Lynchburg area over the past few years. The Donna Andrews Invitational, in its fourth year, saw a record number of entries, with players from India, Singapore and the Midwestern United States applying to play. More high school golf teams in the area fielded players this past fall season.
Boonsboro’s female following has steadily grown as well, particularly in the PGA Junior League, as girls as young as 13 dream of playing the sport competitively in the future.
“Because of where women’s golf is going, such a big avenue now for women in golf, … just to have a female face here, just to have that connection, whether it’s teaching or just getting out and playing, I think that’s huge,” says Drinkard.
Technically, Drinkard is completing his final internship to complete his PGA golf management program at Methodist. It is a seven-month internship that will allow him to obtain his diploma in December. Even though it is a qualified internship, Marks hired Drinkard into the staff so that she would have a job after completing her program.
“She’s here as long as she wants to be here,” he added.
“The PGM program was everything. Obviously, Methodist University is one of the best in the country, it is also one of the oldest. It kind of makes you think about golf in a different light,” Drinkard said. “It’s not just about playing; there’s so much to do, there’s different avenues in golf you can go down, and to me, it’s just the people you meet, the connections you make, the relationships you build. I think that’s what the PGM program has given me more than anything.
Drinkard brought all the necessary qualifications to be a perfect hire for the Boonsboro staff. She concluded an illustrious four-year playing career at Methodist with a host of accolades, highlighted by her nomination as the 2021 Division III Women’s National Golf Player of the Year.
Drinkard was also a four-time All-American, a four-time Academic All-American and a 2019 Division III National Freshman, and she led the Monarchs to the 2021 Division III National Tag Team Championship.
“If you had told me my first year that I would have finished with all these accolades, I would have honestly said to you, ‘I don’t know. No way,” she said. “I’ve continually worked hard every season, in and out of season, and I just have great staff at Methodist. Honestly, I’m truly blessed to be able to play golf every day and do what I love. C is a very good feeling.
She was also The News & Advance All-Area Golfer of the Year for the 2017-18 season after leading Appomattox to the Class 2 state championship.
“It’s just amazing,” her dad, Steven, said of all she’s accomplished.
Drinkard spent the summers after his first three years of college internship at various golf courses. She worked in Boonsboro after her freshman year; the Patterson Club in Fairfield, Connecticut, after his sophomore year; and spent the summer of 2021 interning at Highlands Country Club in Highlands, North Carolina.
These internships allowed him to continue playing competitive golf. She is one of the few players to have appeared in all four Donna Andrews Invitationals, and she has made time to play in the Virginia State Golf Association Women’s Amateur Championship.
Drinkard is set to play in the VSGA Women’s Amateur which starts on Tuesday and will also try to qualify for the US Women’s Amateur on July 11 at Salisbury Country Club in Midlothian.
Marks encouraged Drinkard and everyone on his team to play competitively.
“Aaron has been so great about keeping me competitive and playing golf and training. He said it’s just super important for all staff professionals to be able to keep training and maintaining our game because when we go and play with the members, that’s what they want to see,” Drinkard said. “They want to see good golf. “We’re busy, but not super busy like we would be in a bigger, well-known club, so I appreciate that. Just getting to know the members well. I really like it here.
Drinkard plans to pursue a professional playing career once she completes her PGM program. If the playing career doesn’t pan out, she will apply to become a PGA Pro and said she would consider a coaching role.
“She has a great future in this career,” Marks said. “She can even try to succeed professionally by playing on tour. I would absolutely encourage her to do it too, to give it a try if that’s what she wants. She should give it a shot, especially when you’re fresh out of college, because it’s easier to do it now than 10 years from now.