Jess drives the Brisbane fairways

Jess Jonassen’s reputation as one of world cricket’s best female all-rounders may soon have an added status.

The former junior golf champion who competed at Greg Norman Junior Masters’ events has recently joined The Brisbane Golf Club and has set her sights on a single-figure handicap, hopefully one day to be playing off a mark as low as five.

“Although I totally realise my cricket commitments are not going to allow me to play competitive golf as much as I would like, the long-term goal is to get down to a low single-figure mark,” said the 28-year-old Rockhampton-born law graduate.

“Currently, during our off-season, I’m trying to play at least once a week. And while I am still in the process of attaining my handicap, I’m hoping it will be around the 11-15 mark.”

While competitive golf is nothing new to the Australian all-rounder who has made 156 appearances in the green and gold, she has not been a serious golfer since she left Rockhampton in 2010 to further her cricket career – and her studies – in Brisbane. Back then she was a member of two clubs, Rockhampton Golf Club and Capricorn Country Club, and can lay claim to once playing in the same event as Jason Day and being coached by Rachel Hetherington and Robert Allenby. The lowest handicap she reached as a junior was 11.

Now, a decade later, the golfing bug has again bitten, thanks mainly to cricket coaches Ryan Harris and Ash Noffke.

“Noffers (Noffke) and I are coach and captain, respectively, of the Brisbane Heat Women’s team and he likes to have our coach-captain meetings on the golf course,” Jess explained.

“And Ryan, who is also a member at Brisbane, was on the coaching staff during a recent tour and he was actually the catalyst for me joining his club. Our Australian coach Matthew Mott and a few of the girls, particularly Alyssa Healy and Ash Gardner, are keen golfers, so I thought it was time I took it a little more seriously and secured myself a proper handicap.”

And why The Brisbane Golf Club?

“Why not?” said Jess.

“Every time I played there before joining, I marvelled at the condition of the course, the brilliant greens and the friendliness of everyone. Brisbane Golf Club has a wonderful history as well as a beautiful Queenslander-style clubhouse, and any club that has hosted a Queensland Open has to be pretty special.”

The left-arm orthodox bowling all-rounder has been a member of the national women’s team since 2012 and in 2019 became just the fourth woman to take 100 One Day International wickets for Australia. She has also been a member of teams to have won four ICC T20 World Cups.

Jess is also the current captain of both the Queensland Fire in the Women’s National Cricket League and Brisbane Heat in the Women’s Big Bash.

And with a massive season ahead – a tour of Australia by India, an Ashes Test against England and the T20 World Cup in New Zealand – she concedes golf may again have to take a back seat.

“But rest assured, my golf clubs will go wherever I go, and whenever the opportunity arises, I will be playing,” she said.

And, hopefully, playing off a single-figure handicap. – TONY DURKIN