Photo courtesy of Danny Karnik

The Men’s Golf team is highlighted by young stars such as Luke Schniederjans and senior leaders such as Michael Hines and Vincent Whaley. In the middle is junior James Clark.

The middle child of the golf team from Columbus, Ga., is highly touted. Clark sat down with the Technique to talk about team leadership, his golf roots and mastering the sport.

Technique: What got you to start playing golf?

Clark: It was really when I was little. It was weird how I got into golf because my family never played golf. Dad, mom … nobody ever played golf. So it was weird how I got playing. I lived right next to my home course in Columbus. I have a twin brother, and we kind of just got the bug for it.

We would walk back and forth from the course, and we had a natural little knack for it. It went from there. I was always competitive; I always was looking for being a little better each and every day. My size was kind of limiting for the other big sports, and so golf was the perfect medium.

Technique: What’s the hardest aspect to master?

Clark: Golf is one of those sports that’s so long-term. I’ve been playing golf since I was six or seven years old and am still looking to keep improving.

And it’s every aspect. Some people are different: some people struggle with putting, some people struggle with ball striking. And so everybody has their own tendencies and weaknesses.

For me, when I’m putting well, I usually hold up pretty well because I feel like my ball striking is pretty solid. I think sticking with it is the other big thing. It’s such a long-term sport that it’s easy to get down … it’s easy to get up.

Technique: Is there someone you’ve tried modeling your
game after?

Clark: I’m not one of the longest players out there, so for me to perform well, I really have to hit my wedges and short clubs well and putt well. Zach Johnson on the PGA Tour does that perfectly. So I’ve always looked up to him mainly because he putted with a Seemore putter. It’s a unique brand, and that’s what I putted with growing up. So I was like, “He’s my model.”

Technique: Do you have a favorite or least favorite course from your career so far?

Clark: There are definitely some favorites. I like Peachtree Golf Club here in Atlanta. That’s one of my favorites. I’ve played it four or five times. It’s really kind of an exclusive club; we actually just played it a couple weeks ago. I love that place. It’s so cool, so that’s one of my favorites for sure.

Technique: What’s your proudest moment as a golfer on Tech’s team?

Clark: At Tech, my freshman year in the spring semester I was able to make the team for the postseason. We won ACC’s my freshman year, and that was the coolest thing ever. We got in the playoff with Clemson, and I’ve never been as nervous and amped up in my entire life. It was really cool to pull that out.

Technique: What would you say to someone who doesn’t think golf is a “real” sport, the way baseball and football might be considered by some?

Clark: Well, golf is totally different: it takes strength everywhere. For 18 holes, you’re out there for five hours, walking a 7-mile course carrying the barbell from the weight room on your back for the entire 7 miles.

Nothing is ever the same. There are different courses, … always winds, different yardages; the course turns different ways. There’s definitely an added mental component that I think is present.