Brooks Koepka's extraordinary run in major championships has renewed attention on his girlfriend Jena Sims, who in 2017 first made headlines when she was misidentified by Joe Buck after Koepka's win at the U.S. Open at Erin Hills.. Since then Sims has been by Koepka's side through two more major titles, team events, and for some memorable vacation photos. But Sims has a burgeoning career of her own, with roles in Sharknado and Entourage—two favorites of millennials—to her credit. We caught up with Sims in 2018, when she took over our @gototheloop Instagram account. Here’s our chat with Jena:*
What’s tour life been like so far? Has it been fun?
“It’s so fun. I’m pretty lucky that my actual job isn’t a 9 to 5, so it really gives me flexibility to go out and watch Brooks. This week, I had an audition in the city, so I was able to go watch Brooks [at Glen Oaks in Long Island] and then I went. But it’s nice. I love being able to support Brooks and watch him because he’s so talented. It’s so much fun to watch him.
"He’ll say to me all the time: ‘It must be so boring walking around in the crowd watching me play.’ And I’m like, no way. I actually really enjoy it. I grew up around golf; my dad is a huge golfer. So I really enjoy watching him and being around there. Everyone’s so nice.
"I think it’s hilarious to be standing in the galleries watching Brooks and hearing what people say about him. I’ll hear people saying, 'Oh, he’s so muscular. He looks like a linebacker.’ And I’m just standing there. I’m just glad they’re saying nice things about him. But it’s a lot of fun. Brooks’ crew, his whole team, that’s basically who I hang out with. I’m meeting the girls more and more, and I think with the Presidents Cup coming up, I’ll get closer to the girls, so I’m looking forward to it. I’m slowly making friends.”
The U.S. Open had to have been awesome, but it must have been awkward when Joe Buck called you Brooks’ old girlfriend on Fox. What was life like after that? I’m sure you had hundreds of texts from friends.
“My phone LIT up. It was half like, ‘Congratulations to Brooks!’ And the other half were, ‘Did you hear what happened?’ And I was like, of course I did. It was immediate. I was like, It’s OK, life continues. We’re just fine. It was an honest mistake.
"I think being that we went to Vegas right after the win for five days, we kinda escaped it. We were in our own little world in Vegas celebrating. So we didn’t really have to experience what the media blew it up to be. We were by the pool and the casino just hanging out, no worries about that at all. And Brooks ended up meeting Joe Buck. They're totally cool."
Did you re-watch that moment at all? Anyone have it recorded?
"My friends on Snapchat basically were all over the videos, so I’ve seen it. I didn’t even realize the camera was on me. I was like, I’m glad I wasn’t doing anything stupid while the cameras were on us. So I’ve seen it, but just through social media. It’s not like we sat down and watched it. We’d be in the casino while were in Vegas, and it would be the TV, like they’d be talking about it on ESPN. So it was funny, but we never watched it."
What was the celebration like with Brooks in Vegas? It must’ve been really cool to celebrate such a big win for his career.
“It was obviously so much fun. I think a lot of people joke that if they’d win a big tournament or something like that, they say they’d go to Vegas. But Brooks actually did it. We got on the private plane and the pilots were like, ‘You know, we’ve heard a lot of people say they’re going to Vegas. But you guys are the first ones we’ve flown to actually do it. It was a lot of fun.’ We brought the trophy as many places as we could. It was nice because Brooks wasn’t playing the next week, so we could celebrate properly. But most importantly, it was giving him the moment he deserved because he’s worked so hard for this. A lot of my friends out in LA came, and so we celebrated with his friends, too. So it was really, really special."
You mentioned being around golf your whole life. Do you play at all?
"I say I dabble in golf. Dare I tell anyone I play, they always have to ask me what my handicap is. I dabble. I really enjoy swinging a club. My dad’s a really good golfer down in Georgia. So I’m really familiar with the sport, and I’ve always been a fan of watching it. Brooks will have to give me a couple lessons before I go out there and play a full 18. And he hasn’t yet."
Do you go to the range when you’re with him?
“No, we don’t go to the range. We work out together. But we spend enough time together as is, ya know?”
And when you’re spending time together, I’m sure he likes to disconnect from golf a bit.
“Yeah, we almost never talk about golf. He’ll talk about it for a little bit, and he’ll stop himself and say, ‘OK, I’m done now.’ And that’ll be the end of it.”
How’d you guys meet?
“We met at the 2015 Masters. And that’s so special because I’m from Georgia, so it’s perfect. We were on Hole 7, which I don’t even remember, but he’s like, ‘Oh, I remember what you were wearing, where we were standing, everything.’ It was cool. We hadn’t dated since then. We were just friends at that point."
So a little bit more about you—you’re from Georgia. And you were in the Miss Teen USA in 2007. What was that like?
"Yeah, I was Miss Georgia Teen USA in 2007. Actually on Friday here at the Northern Trust, the girl that I was crowned was here with me, since she lives in NYC. So that was cool, because we haven’t spent that much time together since the pageant life.
"And I just realized that was 10 years ago I was in Miss Teen USA, so that kind of ages me a little bit. But really, that catapulted my entertainment career—and it’s always been a dream of mine to model and act. That was actually the last year it was televised, and that was my first live TV experience. And that kind of led to more modeling and acting from there. It all got me into the business, and even networking with people. It was the best on the job experience I could ask for."
You mention the acting. You have a pretty awesome resume of things you’ve been in. I’m a huge Sharknado fan, so I think that’s pretty awesome. What was that like?
“That was a lot of fun. The new one, Sharknado 5, just came out a couple weeks ago. I’ve done two shark movies now (3-Headed Shark Attack is the other). And so I’ve had two shark-related deaths in my life [laughs]. But it’s fun. The 3-Headed Shark Attack was done by the same production company as Sharknado, so I knew everybody from that. And I had always been a fan of Sharknado, too, so I told them: ‘You gotta put me in one of these before y’all are done.’ So they did, and I’m in a supporting role, which is great, I was a NATO officer kind of warning everybody about the Sharknado coming. It was fun.
"That crew is really so impressive. It’s not a big budget at all, so you have to really want to be in it. And they’re all so passionate about the writing and everything. Even though it’s so cheesy, they act like it’s the gospel, it’s crazy how committed to it they are. [Spoiler Alert for Sharknado 5…] Everyone basically died in Sharknado 5, but I’m hoping they find a way to keep going because I love it."
Do you watch your own roles?
“We actually re-watched it during the PGA Championship a couple weeks ago because it re-ran while we were hanging out. And there were a bunch of people over at our house. And when I was dying everyone was yelling at the screen like, ‘Noooooo, Jena!’ It was fun."
Amazing. And you were also in an episode of Entourage, which, guys our age still watch it all the time. What was that like? Because that was Season 5, and that point, they were one of the most popular shows going.
“That was one of my first jobs in LA. It was a non-speaking role; I was a flight attendant for Jerry Jones in his private plane. So I got to go on Jerry Jones’ plane. It was really cool. Meeting him was really neat. And that was my first time being inside a private plane, so I was in awe. And the writer and producer Doug Ellin, who’s actually a really big golf fan, I got to know him. And we stayed in contact over the years, and I auditioned for a part in The Entourage movie, and I got a speaking part in that, so that was cool. I did the commercial for Johnnie Walker whiskey that Johnny Drama was getting into. I was in a hot tub with Drama, and I was like, ‘Oh my God, you’re so amazing.’ It was a hilarious sequence actually. So that was cool to come full circle and work with the Entourage folks again.
"The day I shot my scene, all of the stars were there. So I mean, I met everybody. It was really cool, we hung out. They were all playing some game, and we ordered pizza, just hanging out. They were big on hanging out all together. hey were all very close. To have a show that successful, you kind of have to love being with each other to spend all that time and be successful.”
OK, just a couple more questions. What’s tougher: Acting or the grind of pageant life?
“Oh, definitely acting. With pageants, it’s just one big audition, because there’s one winner. But acting, I get opportunities all the time, and it’s about getting the right ones.”
How about one thing we might not know about Brooks that you think is cool?
“Hmmm, that’s a tough one. I have to think about this. Oh, here’s a good thing: He loooves to get dressed up. He would never admit it. But he doesn’t get too many opportunities to dress up, so when he does, he loves it. He loves wearing a suit. We went to the ESPYs together, and we went to a Rolex party recently, and he just felt so cool in his suit. You never think about that, because he’s always wearing his Nike gear. And when we’re going to dinner, just wearing a V-neck feels like dressing up for him. But he has so many suits and he loves wearing them.
“Oh, and another random thing is we both don’t like ketchup. That’s one thing we bonded over.”
C’mon, ketchup? That’s like the most versatile condiment—it goes with everything.
“I know, that’s what they say. We just both don’t like it, I don’t know why…”
Alright, I can't give you guys that. But oh well. Last question: What’s maybe one thing about life on tour/traveling from event to event that most people would be surprised about?
“The biggest thing to me is that people think all pro golfers do is party when they go out to fancy places. But Brooks is so busy. He wakes up and he works out. And on an off week, he goes to practice, and he’s gone all day. When he comes back, we really don’t do much. Maybe we’ll go out to dinner, and that’s about it. We’ll watch TV. I think most people think these guys are just out drinking and all this stuff, but it’s really not like that at all. It couldn’t be further from what actually goes on.
“Another thing that surprised me is how little the pros talk about golf when they’re in between shots. I think when you’re a fan and you’re watching them walk with their caddies or with another player, they’re just analyzing the course or their next shot. They’re really not. And you’d think they’re having a ton of fun in between shots. But honestly, they’re usually stressed out, and talking about something other than golf to get their mind off of it. Like another sport, or vacationing, or joking with each other. So that’s really something that surprised me.”