To be the best, you need to put in the necessary time and effort. This holds true for Josh Packer. The 16-year-old athlete did just that to earn himself a gold and silver medal at
this summer’s junior golf competition at the Maccabiah Games in Israel.
Packer has been playing golf from an early age, watching his brother and wanting to follow in his footsteps. Over time, he has developed his love for the game into a true passion, playing every day except Monday and Saturday. He hopes he can continue playing for years to come.
“Golf plays a big role in my life,” he said. “I would like to see myself playing college golf one day.”
If he continues to participate at his already high level, that dream may be closer than he thinks.
This was Packer’s first time competing abroad.
“I wanted to have an amazing experience while competing against Jews from all around the world and, of course, win gold,” the golfer said.
The experience didn’t come without its obstacles, however.
“It was very challenging at first because some players didn’t understand what I was saying at some points,” Packer noted, and keeping the Sabbath and kosher during Israel Connect was tough. Despite this, he regarded the experience as one of the best of his life.
Like most other young athletes, Packer had a strong support system to help him through the grueling competition.
“My friends and family gave me all the support I needed before and during the games,” he said.
Those friends and family were in abundance at home and in Israel. After the games, he participated in a program known as Sulam, a tour of Israel run by his summer camp, Camp Morasha. His friends were able to ease him out of the games once they were done. He also happened to play in what was Great Neck’s most popular sport at Maccabiah with two other athletes playing golf. He was able to spend a lot of time with fellow Great Neck athlete Corey Rutkin.
“Before the games I didn’t really know Corey, but throughout the games I got to know him very well and I was able to look up to him like an older brother,” Packer said.
The athletes were able to learn from each other and both were successful at the games.
Packer is an athlete in the true sense of the word. He not only devotes much of his time to a single sport but also plays sports other than what he would like to pursue long-term. Packer is not only a golfer, but a hockey player as well. The two sports are polar opposites. Golf is a single-person sport, while hockey is team based. He sees golf as a sport that carries a lot of weight with it.
“In golf, it’s all you, if you mess up there is no one to blame except for yourself,” he said.
Hockey players can afford to make a mistake and hope that their teammates can bail them out, but if a mistake is made on the green, it may cost the player the game. But Packer seems to enjoy playing under pressure.
When asked if he prefers playing golf by himself or with a team, he said, “I prefer playing singles competition, because when I am playing singles I know I have to put in the maximum effort at all times and there’s no room for error,” showing how much he appreciates playing in tense situations. For many athletes like Packer, having a must-win mentality throughout a game allows them to play their best.
To excel in high-pressure situations is something that takes incredible amounts of mental toughness, and Packer certainly has that great strength to his name. He hopes that it can take him and his golfing career to new heights, hopefully sooner than later.