Jared Wolfe was asked what he liked about living in North Florida.
“What’s not to like?” he responded.
The Louisville native and the only professional golfer from Murray State to have won on the Korn Ferry or PGA Tour made a promise to his wife, Kelsey, to either stay on the Korn Ferry Tour and get promoted to the PGA Tour this year, or find another line of work.
It appears he’s in the Jacksonville area to stay.
Wolfe tied for sixth last week in the King & Bear Classic, including a third-round 63 that tied the course record at the time (it was broken later in the day by Austin Smotherman). His 21-under-par 267 was a personal record for a 72-hole event and was his third top-10 finish in the season.
Wolfe climbed to third on the Korn Ferry Tour points list. The finish also eased the sting of his missed cut the week before at the Korn Ferry Challenge at TPC Sawgrass, that included a second-round 79.
Wolfe shaved 16 shots off that total with his third round last week.
“It was a cool day,” he said.
Wolfe admitted to being distracted the week of the Dye’s Valley event because he expected a bit too much of himself. He estimates he’s played more than 200 rounds at the Valley since he moved to the area in 2014 and didn’t react well when he started spraying his tee shots.
“I had been playing well leading up to the Valley and it got pretty rough there,” he said. “I was hitting shots from places I had never seen before. Golf can catch you off guard sometimes and that week I was way off guard.“
Wolfe is a recognizable figure on the Korn Ferry fairways. He’s 6 feet 4 and in hot weather wears a wide-brimmed hat that makes him look even taller.
His game starts with a powerful tee shot. Wolfe is 13th on the Korn Ferry Tour in driving distance at 310.2 yards per measured drive, and he’s a respectable 35th in driving accuracy, hitting 78 percent of his fairways.
The combination sets up opportunities. Wolfe is 10th in total birdies with 114 and fifth in eagles with six.
The fact that he’s 47th in scoring average (70.35) shows he can still get erratic — which, in the past, was his downfall because he had a tendency to get down on himself.
“I’m trying to get better at that and anyone who knew me growing up knows it hasn’t been easy,” he said. “When I’m not playing well my attitude is pretty bad but it’s something I’ve worked on the last three or four years. Now, instead of once or twice a week, I have a bad attitude or reaction once every six months.”
The aftermath of his 79 at the Valley was a good example. He didn’t practice and next day and took his wife and eight-month-old daughter Khloe to the beach.
“Hey, we’re in Florida,” he said. “It’s a nice reset button.”
Wolfe said he decided to move to Florida after he and his wife got married and were living with his parents while he labored on mini-tour and had occasional forays onto the Korn Ferry Tour.
“We decided that if we were going to pay rent, let’s go down to Florida,” he said.
Wolfe was friends with fellow pro Chris Baker, who lived in Jacksonville and was extolling the virtues of First Coast courses. His wife trusted him to find an apartment, and early last year they were able to move to Nocatee.
“We’ve loved it every since,” he said. “The people, the food … we found a great church family, just awesome friends. Everything about this area is great.”
And Wolfe has been able to play well enough to keep up his end of a bargain he made with his wife.
Wolfe first reached the Korn Ferry Tour in 2014 after tying for 15th in the national qualifier the previous December. He made only two of 17 cuts and played a combination of the PGA Tour’s Mackenzie Tour-Canada and mini-tours for two years.
Wolfe got back to the Korn Ferry Tour in 2018 after finishing second on the PGA Tour Latin America Order of Merit. Again he bombed, finishing 114th on the money list.
He had another good season on the Latin American Tour in 2019, finishing fourth on the Order of Merit to earn a Korn Ferry card for the third time. But Wolfe promised his wife that if he didn’t keep his Korn Ferry status or advance to the PGA Tour, he’d quit chasing his professional golf dream and get a real job.
Despite the Tour deciding to combine 2020 and 2021 results to come up with the next graduating class, Wolfe is in good shape to keep his promise. He’s earned $142,984 this season and said the combined seasons will give him a bit more flexibility.
“We’re going to have more than 40 tournaments to get our cards so I think we can schedule a little differently and not grind for 16 weeks in a row like we used to,” he said.
Wolfe still has some perks for which he can strive: If he finishes among the top-five on the final regular-season points list, he will get an exemption to the U.S. Open at Winged Foot in September. And a top-10 finish at the end of the calendar year will earn those players berths in PGA Tour events that are opposite majors or World Golf Championships.
There’s also the PGA Tour’s automatic promotion for winning three tournaments in one season.
“It’s disappointing to not have the top-25 finish out there this season but there’s still a lot to play for,” he said.