Jennifer Kangas-Brody loved basketball and golf was just brief summer family fun while growing up in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The LPGA never crossed her teenage mind.
“Six months before I left home for college I was still thinking I would go to Michigan Tech and try being a walk-on with the basketball team,” she said.
Golf came calling with a scholarship though. She had been to a summer golf camp at Michigan State and met the golf coaching duo of Mary and Bruce Fossum.
“They loved that I was from the U.P., and they kept in touch,” she said.
She had played on the boys’ team at L’Anse High as a freshman, then took it upon herself to start a girls’ program. By their senior year the team had won an Upper Peninsula championship and she had claimed the individual title three times.
College golf was a tough transition. She had learned by simply playing with her family and others at L’Anse Golf Club, a nine-hole course with zero bunkers.
“I shot 96 one day in a qualifier and I was mom, dad, come pick me up,” she said. “Then I settled in and started to love it. After the spring of my freshman year I didn’t miss an event. Bruce (Fossum) worked with me a lot on my game.”
By her senior year she had a college tournament, earned All-Big Ten Conference honors and served as team captain. Some people suggested professional golf and sponsorship.
“Nobody called though and my grandmother one day told me to call Russ Osterman,” Jenn said. “He was a successful man from Baraga, just a few miles from us. He had been a walk-on in football at Michigan who ended up playing on a Rose Bowl team. I sent him a letter, he called and he was my only sponsor for seven years. He was sad when I told him I wasn’t going to play anymore. He’s passed away now, but he loved the U.P. and he was a great, generous man.”
Brody won the Michigan Women’s Open soon after college, and in 1998 played with full status on the LPGA Tour after finishing 19th in LPGA Qualifying. She finished 13th in her first LPGA stop in Hawaii but didn’t play well enough to maintain status and played for the next five years mostly on what is now the LPGA’s Epson Tour. She won four times but grew weary of the lifestyle and wanted to start a family.
She had met Doug Brody while playing in the 1997 LPGA Oldsmobile Classic in East Lansing via a sponsor’s exemption. She needed a caddie and he was an assistant professional at the host club, Walnut Hills.
When she was inducted in 2022, Doug was the head professional at Warwick Hills Golf & Country Club in Grand Blanc. Jennifer co-owned the pro shop, handled merchandizing and worked with junior golfers. They were the parents of two standout young golfers, Kate and Tyler.
Year inducted: 2022