By STEVE CORNELIUS, CJ Sports Editor
Somerset High School senior Ross Perry took his golf game to another level this past year, which benefited the Briar Jumper golf program and interested several college coaches.
Recently, Perry signed to play golf at the University of the Cumberlands. According to Perry, Cumberlands’ nationally-ranked golf program and their coach was a determining factor for choosing to join th Patriots’ golf program.
“I got interested about Cumberlands from Coach (Chris) Kraftick,” Perry commented. “He came to a few of my tournaments and watched me play and he really showed interest in me right from the start. I like the school, they are a really competitive program, they are always strong and they are nationally ranked. I think Cumberlands will really help in developing my golf game and the school is a really good fit for me.”
Perry ended his prep career with a banner season with two runner-up finishes (Dale Hollow Invitational and George Rogers Clark Invitational) and a third place finish in the Regional Tournament. Perry led the Jumpers with a team-best 75.3 18-hole scoring average in tournaments played during his senior season.
“It was really nice to end my career at Somerset with a team regional title,” Perry stated. “Last year was little bit of a disappointment, but this year we stayed strong the entire season. I was able to play well this season and keep my scores down. I shot really well at the region, and that was very satisfying to play well at region. I had never been to the state tournament, and that was a great experience. It was a really good year.”
But Perry’s accolades was not just limited to the high school golf tournaments, as he excelled in summer play as well.
Perry was the 2012 SEKGT Player of the Year, but it was his strong play in the 2013 AJGA tour event at London’s Crooked Creek that caught the eye of Cumberlands coach Chris Kraftick.
“When you have a local kid that is good enough to contribute to our program, you have to go after him,” Kraftick stated. “The moment we really liked Ross Perry was when we saw him play in the AJGA event in London at Crooked Creek, on our home golf course and from our tees. That was really an ‘apples to apples’ comparison for us, and I thought he handled himself great that whole week. That really told me he was ready to play at our level. Sometimes it is hard to tell with the high school kids if they are ready to step up to the longer distances and that kind of competition, but Ross handled himself great in one of the top tours against some of the best players in the nation.”
Perry was a two-time Commonwealth Journal All-County selection and earned a medalist honor in 2012 when he won the Battlefield Invitational.
Perry’s even-par round of 71 in the regional tournament helped the Jumpers win region and qualify for the state tournament.
“Ross has been our best player for two years,” Somerset High School boys golf coach Davin Roberts said. “He is a really good kid; probably a better person than he is a player, and he is a really good player. We were lucky to have him in our program and I think he will do real well in college.”
“Ross had a great work ethic and that will prepare him well for college because he is use to working hard,” Roberts said. “He is always working hard to be a better player. Ross always stepped up and played well in big tournaments and when it really mattered. That says a lot about the person he is.”
Perry is well aware of the hard work necessary to compete at the next level, but hard work is nothing new to the Briar Jumper standout linkster.
“After my junior year, I really knew I had to step it up to get an opportunity like this to play at the collegiate level,” Perry said. “I put in the hours this summer, and I have a lot more work to do to get ready to play at the college level. College golf is much more competitive and it is all about the work ethic.”
Kraftick saw Perry as a perfect fit to his nationally ranked golf program and the University of the Cumberlands.
“Ross is a good student, good leader and he led his team to the state tournament this past year – and those are the things we are looking for at Cumberlands,” Kraftick said. “We are a competitive program nationally, and we want kids who want to accept that challenge. Ross fits everything we are looking to do at Cumberlands, and we have had a lot of success with recruiting kids in the Somerset area.”