Mercer Golfer Jerry Ren turns international dream into reality
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The 10-year-old stood next to his father on the range. Somewhere on China’s southern coast, he and the weekend warrior shagged balls.
The ball flew off the tee. It went about 80 or 90 yards — he never hit it short for his age.
From the first time he picked up a club, Jerry Ren’s talent was hard to deny.
The Shenzhen native first found golf through his father. As driving range sessions became more serious and Jerry’s interest grew, his mother insisted he have a coach.
“My mom knows that I’m like a white piece of paper,” Ren said. “You want to start correctly. You don’t want to develop any bad habits.”
Ren’s blank space began to fill quickly. By the time he was 13, Ren was the top ranked junior golfer on the Chinese tour.
“I had like a whole cupboard of trophies,” Ren said.
But China’s school system made it hard for Ren to play the game he loved. From 7:45 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., Ren had his head in school books.
Wanting Ren to continue to dominate the fairways, his parents made a life-altering decision. The family moved from China to New Zealand — a country where his parents had permanent residency — when Ren went to eigth grade. His father, who once occupied a high level position in a multinational corporation, bought a coffee shop to bring in an income.
“It was very hard on him. He had to wake up early every morning to go in and make coffee and wash dishes,” Ren said.
Ren faced stronger competitors than he ever had in China. While he didn’t fill another cupboard, Ren won several smaller tournaments on the amatuer tour. His biggest moment came with a third place finish in New Zealand’s Under 19 tournament.
The well-traveled golfer continued his relentless pursuit; his eyes set on coming to the United States for college.
“If I could get a scholarship and come to America, that’d be a dream come true,” Ren said.
Ren had an offer from Missouri State, but a friend from New Zealand sent Ren on a course for Macon. James Beale, an Auckland native, was a member of the Mercer golf team. Ren gave Beale a copy of his resume. Ren’s resume impressed recruiters, and he was offered a scholarship.
He didn’t disappoint. Last year as a freshman, Ren played in each of the Bears’ tournaments. His play earned him SoCon All-Freshman team honors.
“He is very detailed-oriented in all aspects of his game, and the future looks bright for him,” said Coach Kirk Kayden in a release from the end of last season.
Off the course, Ren hits the books. A finance major at Mercer, Ren graduated high school at the top of his class and won several academic excellence awards. Ren is also a Residence Assistant in the International House.
Ren has his sights set on lofty goals for the upcoming season. He wants to play in every tournament, shoot an average of 74, make the All-Conference team and make a 3.8 GPA.
But Ren’s never come up short.
“One day when I’m gone,” Ren began, “ I want a professor to say ‘Once I had this student…’”
“I want to be remembered as a good individual.”
Ren is hard at work trying to fill the blank space that remains.