Boykins native balances college, golfing career

Published 10:20 am Wednesday, April 15, 2015

When Jordan Francis transferred from Southampton Academy to Southampton High School during his sophomore year, he decided that he would put down his baseball glove in favor of a golf club. Despite having limited experience — hitting the ball as far as he possibly could off of the tee while his father golfed — Francis has been thriving on the course ever since.

So much so, in fact, that he received a scholarship to play at Chowan University in Murfreesboro, North Carolina. Currently a sophomore, Francis was recently named the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Conference’s Northern Division Golfer of the Month for matches in March, an honor that he had not yet received in his short career.

Francis finished third in the Southern Division Tournament on March 11 in Charlotte, North Carolina, and carded a fourth-place finish in the Northern Division Tournament on March 23 in Chesterfield, respectively. His effort was the main catalyst for the Hawks to clinch two-consecutive intraconference team wins.

Jordan Francis drives the ball of the tee in practice. The sophomore is the top-rated golfer at Chowan University. -- SUBMITTED | JORDAN FRANCIS

Jordan Francis drives the ball of the tee in practice. The sophomore is the top-rated golfer at Chowan University. — SUBMITTED | JORDAN FRANCIS

“It was an honor to be recognized for playing well,” he said of posting an average score of 78 each day of the tournament.

This kind of success has sort of come as a surprise to the Boykins native, though.

“I was just too involved in other sports,” Francis said, noting that he played baseball for as long as he could remember, as well as the fact that the two sports’ seasons coincide with one another.

Even more surprising, Francis said, is that he’s Chowan’s No. 1 golfer. When the team starts another tournament, Francis explained that he’s matched up with each opponent’s best player. He doesn’t let that kind of pressure affect his game, though.

“You never step to the first tee thinking you can’t beat the guy you’re matched up with,” he said. “Confidence is key.

“It’s a mental game, and it’s physically draining,” he said, noting that he walks 36 holes at each tournament. “So much can go wrong if you’re not on, and shots can add up quickly.”

To be on the top of his game, Francis spends at least 30 minutes every day hitting a ball off of a tee before he plays nine or 18 holes at Cypress Cove Country Club outside of Franklin. It fits in perfectly with his daily commute from Boykins to Murfreesboro and back.

Between being on the fairway, working on his business degree, travel and social life, it doesn’t seem as if there are enough hours in the day for Francis.

“It’s kind of a risk-reward kind of thing,” he said. “It can be hard to balance, but it’s rewarding to play college golf.”

Studies are most-important, though, he said, because he must maintain at least a 2.5 grade point average to remain eligible. He also hopes to venture into the business side of agriculture or take over his father’s farm upon graduation.

Up next for Francis and the Hawks is the CIAA Championships at Larkhaven Golf Club in Charlotte. The tournament, which runs April 15-17, will feature conference opponents Bowie State, Elizabeth City State, Fayetteville State, Johnson C. Smith, Lincoln University, Livingstone College, St. Augustine’s, Shaw University, Virginia State, Virginia Union and Winston-Salem State..