FORGING MY OWN PATH

Petr Janik

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When he first picked up a pair of clubs, Petr Janik had no idea where the sport of golf would take him.

Actually, Janik was hardly a golfer to begin with.

His sport of choice used to be floorball, a field hockey-esque game that is far more popular in his native Czech Republic than golf.

But, when a pair of teammates took him to a golf course, Janik quickly found another sport to give his all.

At that time, it was just another sport worth playing and competing in.

But, within years of that first round, he’d accomplish things he never dreamed of before.

Pursuing a dream

While Janik had become obsessed with the game of golf, that doesn’t mean the rest of his countrymen shared the same passion.

Unlike in the United States, there are no country clubs nor school golf teams in the Czech Republic. So, when Janik went to join a club team at his local public course, he was unsure whether there would even be any peers in his age range. Fortunately, he found plenty of fellow teenagers who also wanted to grow their golf skills.

“I actually got pretty lucky because there were a lot of kids my age playing golf, which is pretty rare,” Janik said. “We always traveled for tournaments together and had a lot of fun with all the practices.”

Because Janik had dreams of playing professional golf, he knew that he couldn’t pursue both his education and that dream in the Czech Republic.

Instead, American universities were the only place where golf and learning could be combined; so Janik got to work.

He talked to former teammates who had played collegiate golf and got into contact with college coaches through them.

Several options emerged, but only one stood above the rest – University of the Pacific.

With good weather that would allow him to play golf year-round, strong facilities and easily approachable coaching staff, it didn’t take Janik long to make up his mind.

“I started looking into it more and more, and I just had my eyes set on it,” Janik said. “I knew it was the only option for me, and I knew it was what I wanted to do.”

Finding a team

Like many students who attend college overseas, there was an adjustment period for Janik.

Since he had never needed to balance school and golf commitments at the same time, that was an immediate challenge for Janik, who studies sports management.

Add in different cultural adjustments, a new language and new surroundings, Janik had plenty to deal with. Thankfully, he didn’t have to go through it alone.

“We have a great team here and a great group of guys, so that made it a lot easier,” Janik said.

When it came time to actually play the season’s golf tournaments, Janik was happy that he was able to participate in all of Pacific’s tournaments as a freshman. One specific tournament that stands out was a second-place team finish at Colorado State that came in ridiculously windy conditions.

When Janik returned to the same tournament this year, his first Top-10 individual finish was the end product.

With plenty of tournaments and improvements left to put into place this season, Janik and his teammates envision a Cinderella story or underdog run of their own.

“Both individually and as a team, we want to get a win,” Janik said.

“As a team, it’d be pretty cool to do it with the guys because we have such a good group, and we’re all great friends. Individually, you always want to win, so getting one in college would be pretty cool.”

As a team, it’d be pretty cool to do it with the guys because we have such a good group, and we’re all great friends. Individually, you always want to win, so getting one in college would be pretty cool.

A life journey

While his dreams of playing professional golf are what led Janik to the United States in the first place, he has a different perspective now.

As a senior with another year of eligibility left, Janik is in no rush to make up his mind on what his future endeavors will be. He isn’t ruling out professional golf, but a career in sports is a must.

Until that time comes, Janik is focused on improving his game individually and the Pacific golf program as a whole. In that regard, he’s already seen major improvements from when he first arrived on campus.

“I remember my first year, I was a very quiet person, because I didn’t know how the team structure worked,” Janik said.

“It slowly progressed to a point where there’s a few guys on the team who are leaders, and I’m one of them. For me, it’s leadership by example to work hard, do my best and hopefully show the guys my work ethic and what can be done.”

Whether he becomes a professional or not, Janik has already accomplished more in golf than he ever could have envisioned.

From the greens of Czech Republic to the greens of California, Janik always brought his best.

“It’s very interesting to look back at all of it. In the Czech Republic, there’s really no players you can look up to who are on the PGA Tour, and there’s no role model really for anyone who plays golf to look up to either,” Janik said.

“You kind of do your own thing, and there’s only a few players who make it to the US for college golf, so that’s something I’m proud of and grateful for. It’s a great opportunity for me to keep playing golf and get an education. Overall, it’s been a really cool thing for me.”