Although he’s already lifted the Future Masters Trophy twice in his amateur career, 14-year-old Jack Roberts has still yet to attend high school at Frederica Academy.
The rising freshman has played a phenomenal stretch of golf this summer, playing in major junior golf tournaments and beating golfers four years older.
Doing all of this at a young age might seem like a lot to handle, but in the eyes of Roberts, he sees it as a way to play golf at a high level.
“It’s pretty cool,” Roberts said. “I’ve been to some really nice courses and played against a lot of good players that are going to get into some good colleges. It’s been a fun ride lately.”
It’s been a fun ride indeed for Roberts, who capped off a victory at the 49th Southern Junior Championship at Lake Oconee, shooting 14-under par and leading wire-to-wire.
But Roberts wasn’t done. He followed up with his annual trip to the Future Masters Tournament in Dothan, Ala., where he competed for the sixth time. Having won the tournament as a 10 -year-old, Roberts had finished in the top five the previous two years running.
Capping off an 8-under par score, Roberts claimed that illustrious trophy once again, doing so in the 13-14 year old age bracket.
“The course gets harder and harder as I keep playing,” Roberts said after competing. “The distances are getting longer and longer. I also have a good eye for the course, and I have seen the course many many times and I’m comfortable playing the course and I like it a lot. I feel pretty comfortable playing there. Never do I think that I will play bad, I always think that I will put up a good score each and every round.”
Roberts grew up in a household surrounded by athletics. His father Kevin Roberts is a former baseball player and coach for most of his life.
However, it was Kevin’s father-in-law who introduced Roberts to the game of golf at a young age.
“We would take Jack to the golf course, and he just hit the ball differently than other kids did,” Kevin said. “Jack played a lot of other sports when he was a little younger. There was something about golf.”
Since entering the world of tournament golf at the age of 7, Roberts has continuously grown as a golfer in all aspects. Winning tournaments all around Jacksonville, his family knew they were entering the crazy world of golf.
Jared Zak, a Sea Island instructor, was introduced to Roberts six years ago when word of mouth traveled that Zak had a terrific track record with developing junior golfers.
“Very talented kid,” Zak said about Roberts. “Good hand-eye coordination. He’s just very mature, and you look at him and on paper you’d say he’s 14 years old right, but he is just so advanced with everything that he does.”
In those six years of lessons and practice, Zak has seen Roberts make the most of his stature as he continuously grows into his frame.
“His continued improvement in how dynamic and fast he swings,” Zak said. “When you watch him swing, he uses the ground really well. When you’re not really tall and heavy, you have got to figure out how to swing it fast. His feet don’t stay in the same spot, his left foot moves and he’s very dynamic and athletic with what he does.”
Roberts swing speed with the driver registers at 113 miles per hour, ranking him at the average swing speed on the PGA Tour.
At his age, Jack is still growing into his body but it’s his maturity that has brought him this far so quickly.
“He’s maturing,” Kevin said. “I just noticed a little switch in terms of his demeanor and how he goes about the game, his preparation.”
Kevin knew early on to let Roberts make his own decisions on the bag and let his son have the mentality to become a mature golfer.
As all golfers hit the range to practice their drives and iron shots, Roberts has improved his short game — specifically his putting.
“Recently my putting has been saving me, saving my rounds.” Roberts said. “I’m making more of those 10-20 footers for par and birdies. Usually I’m just not a good putter and shoot tons of three putts…. My short game has improved substantially these past couple of months, just by me working harder at it.”
As an eighth-grader competing for Frederica, Roberts was able to get a taste of high school competition. Now, the soon-to-be freshman will have someone at his side for the next four years who is very close to him.
Kevin will take over the reins of the Frederica Academy golf team this coming season and in the process, a father gets to share a special bond with his son.
“I’m very excited,” Kevin said. “I don’t know if he will necessarily listen to me like maybe he would with Coach (Tom) Willis. He’s growing and he’s maturing. Just going through this journey with him where I can actually be side by side with him is kind of a cool thing.”
For Roberts, he sees the next four years as a fun time to spend with his father, as they continue to grow their relationship and the Knights golf program.
“I think it will be pretty fun to just spend more time around him,” Roberts said. “My dad supports me a lot and it will be nice to play for him.”
Although the team will be young, both see the incoming freshman taking a leadership role and being somebody to count on in big moments.
“I’m ready for a challenge,” Roberts said. “I think it will be a good year for us, because we can only get better. We already have a good enough team. Us as a team, we feel that we can win each and every tournament that we play in. I’m looking forward to being a leader.”