Jenny teas off

The North East’s most successful female golfer was back on home soil recently to talk about her career and her incredible family history.

Newcastle’s Jenny Lee Smith – now Jenny Lucas and a best-selling author – was the guest speaker at an event organised by Whickham ladies captain Pam Appleby and her committee.

Billed as an afternoon tea, it was a lot more than that with nearly 100 people packed into the Hollinside clubhouse including several former Northumberland Junior Golfing Society teammates of Jenny – Ken Saint, Les Ives, Ken Greatbatch and former John Jacobs Driving Range colleague Audrey Mills.

Jenny’s ground-breaking career included victory in the inaugural 1976 Women’s British Open, winning the WPGA Order of Merit twice and being the first British professional to play on the LPGA Tour.

Her on-course success has since been overshadowed by an emotional rollercoaster after she discovered she was adopted. It led her along a traumatic, but ultimately joyful path, as she discovered she had a twin sister, Helen, from whom she was separated at birth.

Their incredible story is told in a best-selling book My Secret Sister and now Jenny and Helen are in talks with a producer who hopes to turn it into a film.

Jenny’s extraordinary golf career started on the links at Embleton where she played as a youngster thanks to her adoptive parents Sid and Connie.

In 1965, John Jacobs opened a golf centre in Gosforth – now Parklands – and Jenny began working there.

“One day he asked me what my handicap was and I told him it was 28 and he told me ‘one day young lady you will play for England’ and he was right,” Jenny told her audience. A glittering amateur career was followed by a successful professional record but, sadly, injuries curtailed her career and she played her last tournament in 1984.