Columbia native Jack Parker finds early success with men’s golf

“You can’t lose with this young man,” coach Mark Leroux said.
Courtesy of Mizzou Athletics

Five miles separate Fr. Tolton Catholic High School and the University of Missouri campus. For freshman golfer Jack Parker, it’s that distance that separates his successful high school career and his young collegiate career with Missouri men’s golf.

While only a freshman, Jack acts like a veteran on the golf course in many ways. He was first introduced to the game of golf as a child by his dad, Jeff Parker. Jeff never played golf competitively but picked up the sport when he was in college.

Jack got involved in the game with his father at the early age of 3.

“I would ride around on the cart with him for a little bit,” Jack said. “That would eventually evolve into me hitting balls on the range with him.”

While Jeff’s knowledge of the game was limited, Jack asserts that his father played a key role in helping him reach the Division I level. Jack says his dad always helped him find motivation.

“He definitely pushed me when I needed it,” Jack said. “He pointed me in the right direction. He was a big influence growing up.”

As a kid growing up in Columbia, Jack attended many Mizzou sporting events, so when deciding where to go to college, the choice was clear.

“Going to Mizzou to play golf has been a goal of mine for a long time,” he said. “I just wanted to cross my Ts and dot my Is before I actually made a final decision.”

Parker’s familiarity with Columbia does not stop on campus or downtown. Parker grew up playing at The Club at Old Hawthorne, where Mizzou’s golf facility is located.

“I’ve settled in,” Parker said. “I like the transition. I’m sure it’s been easier for me than other guys because Old Hawthorne has been my home course my whole life.”

While his dad was a big influence growing up, it’s been Parker’s teammates who have helped him transition to Mizzou.

A month before school started, Parker would text junior Matt Echelmeier about what classes to take and other common freshman questions. Parker knew Echelmeier before he got to Mizzou because they both grew up in Columbia.

“He went to the same [golf] teacher as me growing up,” Parker said. “It’s kinda cool to be on the same team. [Matt’s] someone you go to if you have any questions. He’s definitely helped the transition to be a little more easy and seamless.”

Parker qualified for the first four tournaments that the Tigers played in this year. In his first collegiate tournament at the Turning Stone-Tiger Intercollegiate, Parker tied for fifth, scoring at even par.

“You have to expect from yourself to play good,” Parker said. “You’re playing people that were actually recruited to play golf for a reason.”

During his recruitment, Parker stood out to coach Mark Leroux because of his individual high school state championship but also because, according to Leroux, he is a great person and a good student.

“You can’t lose with this young man,” Leroux said. “Did I think he was going to come in and immediately make an impact? I think I was up in the air on that. But, sure enough here he is.”

Edited by Joe Noser | jnoser@themaneater.com

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