Miner Jack Wright attributes signing with Westmont to golf coach George Murphy
February 22, 2019
On Feb. 8, Park City High School golfer Jack Wright signed a letter of intent to play golf for Westmont College, a nondenominational Christian college in Santa Barbara, California.
But Wright said the real story was how PCHS golf coach George Murphy motivated him reach that point.
"He's one of my biggest role models," Wright said. "I think if he didn't give me that push my sophomore and junior years, and given me that tough love, I don't know if the outcome would have been the same."
For most of his high school career, Wright was a good golfer on a very competitive team but failed to stand out from his peers. At the end of his first three seasons with the Miners, he hadn't made the state tournament team due to the squad's depth.
Wright said Murphy's encouragement — and challenges — pushed him to improve enough to make the state tournament team his senior year, and eventually earn a place on collegiate squad.
Wright and his family moved to Park City from Albany, New York, in 2015, just before Jack's freshman year at PCHS. During his first season, he earned starting positions in a few of the varsity team's tournaments.
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"Freshman year I worked pretty hard, not my hardest, and (Murphy) said, 'I think you're going to be a real asset to the team and we're going to need you to score,'" Wright said.
So he worked harder his sophomore year, and though he didn't make the state team, he shot a 150 as an individual at the Class 3A state championship.
But he didn't have the success he was expecting during his junior year and, like the previous season, went to that year's state meet as an individual. But once again he shot a 150, tying for fourth overall.
Following that performance, Wright recalled delivering an important message to his coach.
"Murph, I'm ready for this," he said.
Murphy congratulated him on his success, but told him it would not necessarily translate to a designated spot on the varsity team — Wright would still need to put the work in and make his performance more consistent.
With the specter of not making the state team again looming as a possibility, Wright committed himself to improvement.
"That fueled every practice session," Wright said. "I spent my whole summer working on my golf game, analyzing video and statistics. I really took that personally."
His efforts quickly began to pay off.
In June, Wright earned a place as an alternate in the U.S. Junior Amateur Championship, a national USGA competition for juniors. Murphy said that achievement gave the Wright more confidence going into his senior season.
"To be an alternate, to have a chance to play in the Junior AM, was really a turning point for him," Murphy said. "His strength is not just the time and effort he put into it, but the belief that he could compete at that level."
Then, in July, he won a Rocky Mountain Junior Golf Tour event in Cor D'Alene, Idaho.
"It was a really good feeling to have a trophy up there," he said.
The victory piqued the interest of collegiate coaches, who started contacting Murphy about Wright.
Wright carried his momentum into the high school season, where he was the low shooter at the Region 11 meet, was named to the state team, and helped the Miners win an 11th straight state title, shooting a 152 at Birch Creek Golf Course. He was also named the Miners' MVP for his leadership after recording the lowest score on the team over the season.
"I would say this is my breakthrough," he said of the season.
His performance garnered the attention of Westmont, which Wright said is starting its golf program this fall.
"I went out and visited there, and it was a really awesome," he said. "It's special place, with a course right near the ocean."
The team will play in the NAIA division, meaning Wright will be able to take advantage of the Southern California sun to play year-round.
Encouraged by his success, Wright has set his sights on helping the team win two NAIA national championships.
"I want to be part of a team, and try my best and use my leadership role and carry the winning streak that Park City has had over to college," he said.
While at Westmont, he plans to study business and economics, but ultimately he wants to go pro in golf.
"I have a lot of love for the game of golf," he said. "It's kind of an ambitious goal, but there's no reason it shouldn't come true if I keep my work ethic up and study hard in school and keep my mind to the task."
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