Jin and Kraft commit for DIII golf

April 27, 2019 — by Alex Wang

After sinking the putt on the last hole on March 27, senior Daniel Kraft, along with junior Kevin Sze, crafted an improbable comeback and made school history against Monta Vista. Kraft and Sze combined for a total score of 7 under for nine holes, the lowest score for a pairing ever at the school.

Not surprisingly, such performances show Kraft’s ability to compete at the next level, and he recently committed to play DIII golf at Wesleyan University. Likewise, senior Janelle Jin picked Amherst College for its DIII team. For both, the recruitment process was long but emotional and rewarding in the end.

“When I was offered the spot on the Amherst women’s golf team, I was so shocked that I actually didn’t say anything to my coach,” Jin said. “I couldn’t believe it. I think I muttered a few words, but I believe my parents had to express my excitement to her. Later, after recovering from my shock, I thanked her with my actual words.”

For Kraft, the recruitment process began in his junior year when he played well in one of his tournaments. Then, in the fall of his senior year, he played his two best tournaments that became pivotal to his applications.

At the San Francisco Junior Open on Sept. 15-16, Kraft came from behind to post a third-place finish and had another strong 2 over finish at the Major Championship at TPC Harding Park on Sept. 29-30.

Initially, Kraft was unsure if he wanted to play golf in college because he said he did not want to pursue athletics to the point where it compromised his ability to maximize his academic success. He likes DIII athletics, calling it the “perfect mix of athletics and academics.”

For his early action applications, he applied to a few high reaches, relying on just his grades and extracurriculars. Although these efforts didn’t pan out, Kraft said he is not bothered because he ultimately decided that he wanted to continue his golf career.

“Thankfully I didn't get into those schools, because now I'm so excited to continue athletics into college and I couldn't imagine having it another way,” Kraft said.

Wesleyan ultimately appealed to him because of its small size (3,200), which will allow him to connect with a greater percentage of students and feel a stronger sense of community. On top of that, Kraft said he wants to double major in economics and physics or neuroscience, so “Wesleyan's liberal arts approach to learning was perfect.”

“It's a high bar to reach for, but I think if I can find joy in those fields of study, I’ll be really happy with where I’m at four years from now,” Kraft said.

Similarly, Jin committed to Amherst because she said she loved the “happy and refreshing” atmosphere of the school. She was also attracted to Amherst’s highly regarded academics, which would allow her to receive a “spectacular education” while playing on their golf team. Jin is planning on studying economics or computer science.

Jin started playing golf in third grade when her dad would take her to play at the golf course or hit balls at the driving range. She then started to play competitively during the summer before her freshman year.

“That summer, I was at the golf course almost every day for three hours,” Jin said. “I think that’s when I started to really love golf and have self-motivation to get myself to practice.”

Now, Jin said she typically practices for two hours a day. On her tournament days, she is on the course for much longer, usually six hours a day.

Similarly, Kraft also started playing golf competitively during the summer before freshman year. He had previously played soccer at the national level, even winning a national championship, but he said he switched to golf because he felt that soccer was not fun anymore.

Besides Wesleyan, Kraft was also in contact with coaches at Tufts, Middlebury and Chapman. In the end, he said, “those schools didn't work out due to a combination of coaches being less interested and me being more interested in Wesleyan.”

For both Jin and Kraft, an end to the college recruitment process was both relieving and fulfilling.

“When I was officially accepted into Amherst, I was so relieved because that meant I was officially done with everything,” Jin said. “I hope the coming years in college will be full of new experiences with really great people.”

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