Standing in the fairway of the par-5 ninth hole, Regent Prep’s JP Roller surveyed his next shot. He held a slim, one-shot lead over Christian Heritage Academy’s Drew Goodman in the match-play final of the 2020 Oklahoma Golf Association Junior Boys Championship and he needed a good shot to maintain his momentum.
He calmly stood over his second shot and took aim at the green. He knew he hit his approach solid, but he didn’t know what to expect as he walked towards the green.
“I had 187 yards, I think,” recalled Roller. “I hit a 7 iron. It looked good from my angle, but it’s a par-5 that kind of goes up a hill so you can’t see it land from your second shot. Nobody actually clapped so I had no idea until I saw it on the green and it was four feet out.”
Roller proceeded to sink the short putt for eagle, added a shot to his lead and gained momentum in the match that he never relinquished. He went on to claim a 4 and 2 victory over Goodman at Kickingbird Golf Club in Edmond and created the perfect start to his summer.
“I think I’ve played in it five or six years, so to win it in my last chance, it meant a lot,” said Roller, who will continue his golf career at Texas Tech this fall. “Before this year I hadn’t even made it past the first round of match play, so it was exciting to make the second day of match play and then to eventually win it.”
“I wasn’t going to go,” said his mom, Maggie, who is Regent’s boys golf coach and the Director of Instruction at Cedar Ridge Golf Club in Tulsa. “I was talking to one of the parents that I coached his son at Regent and he said, ‘Maggie, you’ve got to go because your kid’s got a chance to win it,’ and it just kind of hit me so I moved all of my lessons around. I cried when he won.”
Despite losing his senior prep season due to COVID-19, Roller took advantage of not having many school responsibilities and spent as much time on the course fine tuning his game as he could.
“I had all day to practice and play, so I’d get out to the course,” claimed Roller, who won the 2A individual state championship in 2018 and led Regent Prep to team titles in 2018 and 2019. “Me and my dad would go out in the morning and putt and then I’d have the rest of the day to just play competitive rounds out at Cedar Ridge with some of my buddies.”
To say the Rollers are a golfing family would be quite the understatement. JP isn’t even the only state champion in the group. His younger sister, Jenni, won the 2A individual title last year as a freshman. Younger brother Johnmark also golfs, but plays several other sports as well.
JP’s dad, Bill, was the head golf coach at Jenks for many years and helped start up Regent’s girls golf program. Along with being the Rams’ boys coach, Maggie was also a member of the University of Tulsa’s 1988 national championship women’s golf team.
“They started me off when I was like, 3 years old, playing golf so that’s all I’ve known,” admitted Roller. “My mom really helped me with my swing until the second half of high school. They always push me in practice. They’ve always been there pushing me to get better. It’s been a good thing to motivate me.”
He has also been active in the AJGA’s Leadership Links program. Two years ago he raised $18,000 for College Golf Fellowship, which earned him an opportunity to play a round with his favorite pro golfer, Rickie Fowler, in Florida.
“He’s always been my guy,” claimed Roller. “It was really fun. It was cool to see his game compared to mine. It was a really cool experience.”
“It’s think it’s really import,” said Roller on the importance of giving back. “Golf is not everything. Your identity is not just golf. It’s really important to me.”