Q&A: Jack Perry, Northwestern star golfer

Kevin Casey, Reporter

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The men’s golf team may have seen its season fizzle out on a bit of a sour note by failing to qualify for the NCAA Tournament, but it was also a year when a star blossomed. Jack Perry brought his A-game his junior year and led the team in eight of 11 stroke-play events on his way to nine top-20 finishes, five top-10 placings and two victories. His performance did not go unnoticed during awards season, when Perry picked up the Les Bolstad Award for lowest scoring average among all Big Ten golfers, as well as an All-Big Ten first team selection. The Daily spoke with Perry last week on how he got into the game, his family connection to Northwestern and Luke Donald.

The Daily Northwestern: Since what age have you been playing golf and what got you interested in the game?

Jack Perry: My grandfather got me into it when I was 5 years old, and it’s kind of been a love/hate relationship since. I really love the challenge of it. I love that it’s a sport you play in solitude.

The Daily: Was there a certain player you idolized while growing up?

Perry: I really liked Freddy Couples because he was so relaxed, and that’s what I wanted to be: a relaxed, confident golfer. He really epitomized the calm I wanted to play with.

The Daily: Is there a certain golfer or golfer(s) you model your game after or that you feel your game is similar to

Perry: I feel like I’m really similar to Brandt Snedeker, I’m very quick in the way that I play golf and in the way that I swing. It’s nice to know that a player like that can make it on Tour.

The Daily: What really swayed you to come play golf at Northwestern?

Perry: I lived in Lake Forest, Illinois, when I was younger, my dad went to Kellogg and my sister graduated from Medill. But also a big part of it was Pat Goss. I don’t think there’s a better coach in the country. Obviously the school as well, it’s a great school, so that was attractive.

The Daily: What is the one golf course you dream most of playing, or have you already played it?

Perry: I really want to play Augusta (National) — just because of the history, the tradition behind the course, what happens there, who plays there, what it represents. It’s just an American tradition in terms of golf, and I really want to play it.

The Daily: How key is it to know that a world-class player like Luke Donald came from this program and to have him come back and practice with the team?

Perry: It’s a great resource to have, to see that a player who walked in our shoes 15 years later is one of the top golfers in the world and still working with our coach. He’s obviously very generous. He built us a really nice facility, and it’s a great asset for the program to have him around.

The Daily: You hold Donald’s old 54-hole scoring record, and you eclipsed his highest total margin of victory. What is it like to know that you have those records over that caliber player?

Perry: It’s a nice accolade, but he’s obviously done a lot more than I have. Hopefully they keep coming and I keep getting a little better every day, and maybe one day I’ll be up there with him.

The Daily: How much work goes in each week for you to make sure your game is ready for every event?

Perry: I can’t put down the number of hours, but I try to wake up earlier than other people, I try to work out more, and I just try to get better. I really believe that tournaments are won more through preparation than the play itself because if you are better prepared than other people then the tournament is just fun. The only reason people get fearful is because they are not prepared.

The Daily: Eric Chun was the main guy for this team last year, the consistent No. 1, and you took on that role this year after his graduation. How did you adapt to take on a leadership responsibility?

Perry: I don’t think there’s really anything to adapt to. We’re all buddies on this team. It’s not like any of us are demanding things of the other guys. I think we all just kind of egg each other on to work harder and do better. It’s not any one person. It’s just a good team dynamic.