Golf ace Jack Clarkson reveals why he is targeting a spot on the European Tour rather than following in his ex-Blackpool FC playing father’s footsteps
He is aiming to secure a spot on the European Tour and Stalmine golf ace Jack Clarkson says his father Phil, the former Blackpool FC star, supports his decision to forge a career in a different sport.
Clarkson junior, 23, was on course to follow in ex-Fleetwood Town, Crewe, Scunthorpe, Bury, Halifax and Lancaster City player Phil’s footsteps.
But the ex-Blackpool FC academy player chose golf instead of pursuing his footballing ambitions and has not looked back since.
The former St Aidan’s and Blackpool Sixth student has just turned professional, having graduated from William Woods University in the USA last year.
As a pro, Clarkson has secured a spot on the Alps Tour and is eyeing the European Tour.
The Lancaster Golf Club professional says it all started at Knott End Golf Club.
He told the Gazette: “My grandad took me there to get my first handicap when I was nine or 10 and I got the bug.
“I’d always played football and I was playing for Blackpool’s academy but I liked golf more, which is strange because my dad was a professional footballer.
“I had to choose one or the other and I’d always preferred golf.
“My dad never really pushed me – he was supportive whatever I chose.
“At 18 I went to university in America (Missouri). I had always wanted to do that.
“Playing sport in America is huge. There are so many opportunities.
“You play against better players and get your degree at the same time, and your education is paid for by a scholarship.
“When I graduated last May I stayed amateur. I was always going to go pro but it was picking the right time to do it.
“I turned pro in October and my first tournament was the Alps Tour qualifying school in Spain in December.
“I came second in the first stage to reach the final. The top 35 in the final got a tour card, which means you get into any event on the Alps Tour, and I tied for 21st.
“It means I can plan my whole schedule and don’t have to qualify for events.”
And now the three-time All American winner, 2018 Jack Nicklaus Award semi-finalist and 2018 AMC Conference Player of the Year is hoping to use the Alps Tour as a platform,
He said: “I’m hoping to make it to the European Tour in the next couple of years.
“The Alps Tour is the third tier. The top five in the order of merit get a Challenge Tour card, which is the step below the European Tour.
“I’ve made a pretty solid start. I had a good result in my second event, which has given me confidence going forward. It has made me realise I can win at this level.
“No matter what I’m going to the European Tour qualifying school in October to try to get that card.
“It would be nice to get the card and be straight on the tour, but it is a tough journey.
“I know I can do it. It is just going from level to level. I’m on the full schedule on the Alps Tour and I will be in Open qualifying. That is the plan for the rest of the season.”
Clarkson works at Knott End two days a week as he tries to achieve his dreams.
And he is looking for more sponsorship to help him reach the European Tour and compete with some of the best in the world.
He said: “Golf is my main job and I’m hoping to go full-time in the next year or so.
“But that isn’t easy and depends on a sponsor. My gym, Wyre Fitness, helps me out. A local business has paid for my clothes and a few members at Lancaster help me out a little bit financially.
“My parents have helped me out and I earned some money in Egypt that has gone straight back into the rest of the season.
“But I would just like a bit more stability to take a bit of pressure off.
“At the end of the day your golf will determine that but it is nice to have a bit more stability to focus on the golf.”