September 19, 2023
KO Golfer Finds Success on the Links
Whereas most toddlers’ first exposure to sports is running around their backyard with a soccer ball or swinging a wiffle ball bat, Austin Perkins, ‘26 was hitting a bucket of balls with a golf club. “My dad put a club in my hand, and I would be swinging and swinging,” Perkins said. “Every day when he came home from work, I would hit 100 balls into a net.” All that putting has paid off. Now ranked #6 in Connecticut, Perkins has had many successes on the links in recent months at various tournaments.
Perkins would visit the golf course as a youngster, and his dad would carry him on his shoulders across the fairway. But when all his friends started playing baseball, he changed his heart and started playing baseball, too. He said it was challenging to maintain a golf swing when playing baseball, so he committed fully to the baseball. However, when Covid struck, and the golf courses were open, he traded his bat for clubs.
“If covid didn’t happen,” he said, “I don’t think I would be doing this at the level I’m playing at.”
Although Perkins will talk to college coaches next summer, this summer was a time for Perkins to set himself on the right track and get exposure. Perkins’ goal is to play down south at an ACC school and dispel the narrative that every golfer down south is better.
In June, he headed to Parris Island in South Carolina for the AJGA Tournament and was the only golfer from the Northeast. He placed 15th out of 55 golfers and shot 71, 72, and 77 over the three days. He admitted he had a rough spell on the last day and was in 4th or 5th position going into the final day. “I still consider that was a win because it was different grass that I was playing on, and it affects how you play,” he said.
Another highlight was the state junior amateur at Fairview Farms in Harwinton. One hundred twenty kids vied for 32 spots for match play. In Round One on Monday, Perkins was the number one seed and tied the course record. On the first hole, he hit a birdie; subsequently, he hit four birdies and two eagles on that Monday. In the second match, he played the number one ranked student golfer in CT committed to playing at the University of Maryland. On the last hole, they were all square, but the other golfer hit a 10-footer to win and beat Perkins. Despite coming up short, Perkins considered it an excellent experience.
This summer, he competed at the Hartford Golf Club Club Championship against the number one seed, Henry Krieble ’21. Perkins was the number two seed with one under par 70. There were only 16 seeds, and he played the number 15 seed, whom he beat quite handily. He also played against a student golfer who plays on the Fordham University team and beat him. In the final, he played Krieble in a 27-hole heavyweight match.
“It was interesting to test our games,” Perkins said. “ It was a very good match. He beat me with two holes to play, but it was a great learning experience.”
Perkins stresses the importance of the mental game in golf. “It’s hard to hit the perfect shot every time and make a good swing with the driver and put well,” he said. “ If you can’t keep a level head, it’s tough to have success hole after hole.” Perkins worked with a mental coach and discussed techniques to stay positive throughout the game. He said every player at a certain level is as good as the next, but the mental game can carry you through. “If you have the mindset,’ Today is the day that I’ll shoot my personal best,’ it can happen,” Perkins said.
News Main News