Traveling over 5,000 miles to attend Webster University, golf player Jan Antonin Wdowka has one main goal he wants to achieve: to become a professional golf player.
After his mother introduced him to golf, Wdowka has been playing the sport since he was 6 years old while he grew up in Prague, Czechoslovakia.
Wdowka began thinking about playing college golf in America about three years ago.
“College sports are not a big thing in [Prague]. You have to study and play sports in your free time,” Wdowka said. “America was my No. 1 choice because you can play sports and study at the same time.”
This is the first time Wdowka has left Europe on his own. He found it to be a hard adjustment, especially the first week he arrived, but he is now starting to settle in.
Wdowka also adjusted to the differences between playing golf in Czechoslovakia and America. He noted that in Czechoslovakia, he played and practiced solely as an individual.
“There is nothing like college golf in [Prague], you just play by yourselves,” Wdowka said. “We don’t have support through a school or support through a coach. We don’t have a team to play with and boost each other to get better.”
Now, Wdowka has seven teammates and a coach to help support him through his golfing career.
Webster’s head coach Bradley Smith, who was a professional golf player for over 10 years, is ready to get Wdowka to his ultimate goal of becoming a professional golf player.
“I can bring his game to another level and certainly make him a stand-out player,” Smith said.
Smith imagines that Wdowka has either the longest or one of the longest drives of a golf ball in Division III golf, hitting it about a mile long. With Wdowka already coming in with these skills and Smith’s background and specialization in chipping, pitching and putting, he knows he can help make Wdowka an even better player.
Smith also wants to teach Wdowka how to play the game professionally, how to practice and the structure he needs in practice to be able to play at the professional level.
“I want him to know exactly what to expect,” Smith said. “These are the things that will gradually make him better, so that he’s ready to play professionally when he graduates.”
Since Smith was an international student himself from Australia, he was excited to be able to recruit Wdowka and hopes to bring more international students into the program.
“I hope to recruit more players like Jan with his personality and demeanor on the golf course,” Smith said. “He doesn’t get down on himself too much if he has a bad shot and that’s something that is hard to teach and a lot of golfers could learn.”
Wdowka has already proven he will be a great asset to Webster’s golf team having finished first in two tournaments so far.
“One of the goals is to play in the PGA Tour,” Wdowka said. “That’s the dream of all dreams and I’ll do everything to achieve it.”