How this furloughed golf course shop manager is trying to give back

Kelsey Jo Holsten at the golf course.

Kelsey Jo Holsten is trying to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Courtesy Photo

The coronavirus has consumed the world’s attention but other diseases continue their ravages. Kelsey Jo Holsten, the shop manager at Del Monte Golf Course in Monterey, Calif., is waging a battle on both fronts: her mother Kris, a nurse in Toledo, is recovering from COVID-19 while her father Jeff, a truck driver, had open-heart surgery on April 21, having already beaten leukemia. Kelsey Jo, 27, is a caregiver at heart and do-gooder by nature, so she has been eager to give back.

Fundraising for the fight against coronavirus is paramount but research for other diseases remains deeply important. In this spirit, Kelsey Jo has launched a campaign to raise $50,000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Her father survived his leukemia scare five years ago with the help of a cutting-edge therapy involving arsenic (yes, arsenic).

“If people weren’t donating or investing into the LLS, the experimental treatment that saved my dad might not exist,” she says. “It’s so important we keep supporting new research.”

Kelsey Jo had grand plans for her fundraising but they have fallen by the wayside as the golf world has taken shelter from the virus; she herself has been furloughed since March 21 from Del Monte, a sporty, tree-lined layout with small, tempestuous greens that dates to 1897. So now Kelsey Jo is appealing directly to the golf community for help. (Donations can be made here.)

“The people in this game are so generous and big-hearted,” she says. “I know this is a challenging time but whatever people can give is so very appreciated.”

Kelsey Jo and her dad playing a round. Courtesy Photo

On May 9, National Miniature Golf Day — who knew such a thing exists? — Kelsey Jo will help host Putt 4 Pledges, an at-home putting competition that offers various prizes. (To get involved, click here.) She has also organized a virtual marathon in which runners can hoof it to earn charity dollars from friends and family. A certified Barre instructor and Lululemon ambassador, Kelsey Jo also offers a variety of virtual fitness instruction through her Instagram @GolfFitWithKelseyJo. “My dad will go on my Instagram Lives and watch the hour-long Barre classes from start to finish and then at the end he’ll donate $10. I’m like,’Did you do it?’ And he’s like, ‘No, but it was a great class.’” An eyeroll ensues.

Jeff’s inactivity and high-fun diet is at the core of his health problems. It has pushed his daughter to constantly better herself. “It’s why I’m so gung-ho about fitness and what I put in my body,” she says.

At 5’8”, Kelsey Jo was a standout fast-pitch softball player in high school who didn’t take up golf until her junior year. She was such a natural that a year later she was recruited to play for Florida Gulf Coast University. But at the start of her freshman year, Kelsey Jo suffered a severe case of Toxic Shock System. She spent a month in the hospital, at times being put into a medically induced coma. In the rigorous physical therapy that ensued she had to learn to walk again. Her golf game never fully recovered, so Kelsey Jo transitioned from playing to the professional golf management program.

She cut her teeth at the Inverness Club, Doral and Tiburon before coming to the Pebble Beach Co. in 2014. Though Pebble and Spyglass Hill are more glamorous addresses, she has found her niche at Del Monte, which has affordable rates for locals.

“I love the community element,” she says. “Oh my gosh, it’s crazy sometimes. All the old-timers come into the grill and they just sit there telling their stories from way back in the day. It’s fun to listen to them, especially when they all are trying to give each other lessons on how to play the game, yelling and hollering the whole time. I’m always smiling at work.”

This is only one of the reasons why she has become the second woman to rise to the level of shop manager within the Pebble Beach Co.

Freed from her pro shop duties for the time being, Kelsey Jo has been able to focus on supporting both of her parents from afar. Jeff has come through his surgery well while Kris fought off the COVID and is in the final stages of her recovery. She has been cleared to return to work on Friday. Every evening Kelsey Jo goes to Carmel Beach to FaceTime her mom so they can enjoy the sunset together. Each derives strength from the other.

“She is not scared to go back to work,” Kelsey Jo says of her mom. “She wants to go back and help people. She’s very passionate about that.”

Like mother like daughter.

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