Jackie Touchet has been playing golf for so long, she doesn’t remember when she learned how to swing a club.
Born and raised in Prince Rupert, Touchet was introduced to the game by her parents. Over the years, what started out as a family pastime has developed into a lifelong passion, and she is keen to pass it on.
“I want Prince Rupert to have a new generation of golfers,” she said.
Touchet said her parents would bring her and her older brother to the city course for family afternoons together. At the time, her enthusiasm for the game was much bigger than she actually was.
“They didn’t have kids’ clubs at the time,” said Touchet. “You’d have to use adult clubs that they’d cut down to make kids’ clubs.”
Touchet continued to play, and eventually competed in junior tournaments. She played in the novice division of the BC Junior Championships when she was 13 years old as well as the women’s travelling teams that would compete in tournaments across the country.
She said playing in the blustery weather of Prince Rupert helped her when competing in other places.
“We would go from Prince Rupert, where it was all wet and hard to golf, down to the Lower Mainland, where it was all sunny and everything was a lot easier,” she said. “It’s so hard here, people don’t understand the minute you leave the fairway you can’t find your ball because it’s in the salmon berry bushes and skunk cabbage.”
After graduating from high school, Touchet spent a year in South Carolina where she played at Coastal Carolina University (CCU) on a golf scholarship.
While she enjoyed the quality of golf and the courses available, Touchet said she struggled with the difference in culture and lack of diversity in the Southern United States.
“There’s black people and there’s white people and you don’t talk to each other,” she said. “And coming from Prince Rupert where there’s every ethnicity here, it was definitely a shock coming from somewhere where there’s so much blended culture.”
After completing her first year at CCU, Touchet decided to return to Canada, and she competed for the next three years at the University of British Columbia. The team played against both Canadian and U.S. universities in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). In Touchet’s fourth year, they won the NAIA national championships.
“Especially because it was my last year playing there,” she said. “It was the perfect end to a really fun university golf experience.”
Touchet completed her bachelor of commerce degree at UBC before becoming a teaching golf pro in Vancouver.
“I was planning on getting a real job,” she said with a laugh. “But someone mentioned that there was a position available and since I had a business degree, it made sense.”
In order to become an instructor at the course, Touchet had to complete a playing ability test, which involved playing two rounds of golf shooting with a score of 80 or less on both days.
Touchet responded to the challenge, shooting a 69 on the first day and a 70 on the second day to pass with flying colours, and beat all but one of her competitors.
“I’d never had under par rounds until that point,” she said.
Touchet spent the next six years as a golf pro in Vancouver before family and circumstances brought her back to Prince Rupert. She admits she never expected to return to her hometown, but said that she wanted her young children to have an opportunity to develop their passion in the same way she did.
“One day I started thinking, ‘What did I get to do growing up in Prince Rupert and what did my friends do and where are my friends now,’” she said. “I thought that we got to do everything we wanted to do, and I thought about what my kids can do in Vancouver.
“They probably would have never seen a golf course in Vancouver because of the time, the cost and all that kind of stuff.”
Since returning to Prince Rupert in 2011, Touchet has been leading the charge to encourage more women in the city to play golf by offering ladies’ day golf lessons.
“The more ladies who are out there for ladies day makes for a better environment,” she said.
Touchet has also been heavily involved with Prince Rupert’s gymnastics club because of her daughter, Emma.
“She was getting into gymnastics in the Lower Mainland, but when she returned to Prince Rupert there was nothing for her,” she said.
When the opportunity came to start the Rupert Club, Touchet said she was on board because it would give her daughter the same opportunity to develop a passion the way she had.
“I can say four years later that that was the best decision every because she just loves gymnastics,” she said.
Whether it’s her own love of the game or developing that love in others around her, Touchet said helping people find something they can be excited about for life is the most important thing.
“It’s a blessing to be able to do that,” she said.