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Jack Owen (junior, sports administration) has come a long way, both figuratively and literally, to participate in the sport he loves.
The Indiana University of Pennsylvania golfer travels more than 3,000 miles to the campus each semester from his hometown of Hampshire, England, to gain an education and participate in the game he loves.
Unsurprisingly, the United Kingdom native is no stranger to being asked why he came from so far away to attend college.
“Yeah, it probably takes me longer to get home than most here at IUP,” Owen said.
“I joined a program back home called ProDream USA. They made me a portfolio and helped me build up a resume. Then head coach [Fred] Joseph got in touch with me and asked if I would be interested in playing for IUP. As they say, the rest is history.”
Despite his passion for the game, golf wasn’t a sport he grew up playing.
“I actually started playing at 13-14 years old, which is quite late really. [I] played a variety of sports, and golf was one that I was interested in a bit later than others,” Owen said.
He attributes his initial interest of the game to his father, who taught him how to hold a club and showed him basic swinging technique. It was then his coach, Richard Lewington, who would get him completely committed to the sport.
“He had a week-long Easter clinic that he does every year for juniors [in secondary education]. I participated one year, and I was hooked on the game ever since,” Owen said.
“Obviously winning is my favorite part. But out of the actual aspects of playing, I love hitting iron shots,” Owen said. “I would say that is my biggest strength, so that’s…why I enjoy it.”
While Owen loves the game, he admits that he does have one occasional qualm.
“One thing I dislike is playing with miserable people. I understand that players want to focus while they are playing, but there is no harm in having a little friendly conversation walking down the fairway,” he said.
Owen may enjoy genial discussion, but at his core, his main focus, like most competitors, is on the game. His commitment is patently evident through how hard he has worked on his technique to reach his current level, and how carefully he prepares for each competition.
“I will research the course online and try to get some sort of idea as to how I am going to play it. Obviously conditions at the time will play a role in my decision-making,” Owen said. “The practice round the day before [an event] is my biggest indicator of how I want to play the course.
“Some holes will suit my eye and others maybe not so much. This is where I will either play more conservatively or get more aggressive.”
His tremendous effort does not go unnoticed as teammate Zack Kempa (senior, marketing) had nothing but positive remarks to make about Owen and his commitment to the sport.
“He has a great game. He takes a hardy rip at the ball,” said Kempa. “[He is] the best ball striker on the team, and he has always put a lot of time and effort into his game and into working on his fitness. Over the summer, he worked hard with his coach, and they found a new putter, and he is rolling it as well as he ever has.
“I’m very excited to have him back on the team, and I know when I leave he will be a strong, new leader of the team.”
That is high praise from Kempa, who is one of the best golfers in the state and has achieved numerous accolades over the course of his career.
Owen has accrued his fair share of achievements during his time at IUP as well. He has amassed 10 top-10 finishes and five top-5 finishes. Owen also made the All-Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference men’s golf team as a freshman for the 2011-12 season.
His achievements cannot be limited to his IUP tenure either.
In England, Owen was selected onto the England Schools and Colleges golf team.
He performed well enough in the national final to qualify for one of the 12 spots that were available. Owen named getting onto the team as one of his all-time favorite golf moments.
He also played in an event called the Hampshire Hog, which is a world-ranking event. He was the youngest player, 15, since PGA golfer Justin Rose, 14, to have played in the event at the time.
Fittingly enough, Owen hopes to one day follow in Rose’s footsteps.
“My long-term goals are to turn professional and ultimately try and make money by winning events, whether that’s here in the United States or back home in Europe,” Owen said. “Playing golf is my passion, and if I can get paid to do it, then all the better.”