INDEPENDENCE — Jordan Clark remembers taking golf lessons at various golf clubs with his grandpa as the start of his passion for the sport.
“And as I got older, I eventually started going out there to practice myself,” Clark said, a senior at Central High School. “My cousins play, my dad plays, a lot of his friends play, so golf has been around my family a long time, and I’ve just grown to love it.”
This season would have been Clark’s fourth year with the Panthers golf team. He wanted to build off of last year’s success, when he missed qualifying for state by one slot.
“I felt like I was going to come back this year and see what happened, but then, you know, everything else happened,” he said.
Because the season was abruptly canceled due to the Coronavirus, Clark’s final season came and went without a single tournament played.
“Golf has been one of my favorite sports, right up there with basketball, and of course I was really bummed out about it,” he said. “Because I was really looking forward to it, but at the same time, I was thankful for what I got to do with the basketball team and cross-country this year. And in the end, I think I’m just happy that everyone is staying healthy.”
Playing at the Pronghorn Tournament in Eastern Oregon with the rest of the Panthers is something Clark said he will miss not being able to do this year.
“There’s so much I’m going to miss,” he said. “I’m going to miss my teammates especially — I feel like we had a good time practicing and being at tournaments. Just the atmosphere of being in the last school sport that I’m going to play for high school.”
Head golf coach Joel Everett will miss having Clark on his team.
“Jordan was a constant for our program from the moment he stepped on the course his freshman year,” Everett said. “He always did the right thing. He led more by actions than words, and was always helping other players learn about the game and showing them everything he could. He encourage many players to come out for golf and helped grow the program.”
Clark plans on attending college at Linn-Benton Community, and hopes to get involved in some of the sports clubs there.
As for continuing to play golf, “if for some reason I decided I wasn’t going to, I have like eight other people in my family that would talk me back into it, so pretty hard to say no,” he said.
He also plans on going through the training to become a sports official under the Oregon Schools Activities Association.
It will be a way for him to continue with his love for basketball.
“Basketball is right up there with golf, and I’ll be able to play golf for the rest of my life, but basketball, there’s not very many opportunities after high school basketball to play and be with a team,” he said, “and being a referee is my way to stay around the game, and watch the game and have fun with it,” he said.
With school being done for the seniors, and with no sports to participate in, Clark has been reading to fill his time.
“My parents have been putting me to work outside in the yard and stuff too,” he said.
Another thing he fills his time with is writing.
“I like writing short stories,” he said. “Me and my friends, when we were little, we created this make-believe universe where we were all these make-believe heroes, right, and at the time it was childish, and I remember I wrote a little paragraph about it in a document back when I was in ninth or eighth grade, something like that. I pulled it up recently, and I was like, ‘hey, I could make something out of this with my free time.’ Turned it from a little kid’s story to an actual kind of interesting short story.”
When asked if he’d like to be published one day, he said, “Maybe. I don’t know. I’d have to see how good this thing gets. I hear there’s a process. So, you never know.”
He leaves the team with several memories to look back on, but one sticks out in particular.
“So I was playing out at Cross Creek, and it was in between hole 15 and 16, there was this port-a-potty, and the group behind us is going super slow, and I’m like, ‘OK, I have to go use the bathroom real quick,” Clark said.
When he gets in there, he hears a buzzing in his ear.
“And I swat at it, thinking it’s a fly, and then I hear a couple more,” he said. “And I’m like, ‘well this isn’t good.’ I look up and there’s a hornet’s nest up there on the door of the port-a-potty.”
Clark said as he went to open the door slowly, “All of a sudden, the lid of the toilet collapses behind me, and I freak, and I fall out of the port-a-potty and the door slams really hard, and all the guys on the T-box look behind, and there’s me on the ground right there, trying to scramble away from the port-a-potty.”
That was during his sophomore year.
Luckily, he wasn’t stung, “but it did scare the life out of me,” he said.