Fore the love of one’s country

Dakota Ratley

Over 5,000 miles separate Monroe from Europe. However, an ocean can’t stop three young golfers from doing what they love.

The ULM golf team is on the rise. The team won multiple tournaments last year and looks to be competitive in conference play this spring.

The NCAA tournaments are generally three round events in which five players from each school are competing for the lowest scores.

This ULM team has a bit of international flavor.

The Warhawks’ top five consists of three players from foreign countries. Velten Meyer is a junior from Sandurug, Germany. The team also has a pair of Scots with junior Greg Smail and sophomore Calum Hill.

So why would one travel all the way across the ocean for a game? Universities in foreign countries do not emphasize sports the way they do in the United States. In fact, most do not even have sports teams that are an actual part of the college.

This means that many Europeans may want to come to the United States in order to continue playing sports while also getting a degree.

Velten Meyer explained this as his reasoning for coming to the United States for school.

“I wanted to combine golf with the education because at home, if you go to college at home, there’s no way you can do sports,” Meyer said.

Sometimes it’s even simpler than that. Calum Hill said weather played a big role in making his decision to come to America. Scotland’s weather can produce nearly unplayable conditions. In the southern United States, golf season is virtually year-round.

Getting in touch with schools in America is an interesting process.

Coach Walt Williams said that the Internet is an integral part to recruiting foreign players.

Williams said that players send in their resumes in hopes of being recruited. They also send in videos of their swings and the different parts of their games.

Some players such as Meyer and Smail use agencies to get in touch with the schools in the United States.

Getting recruited is just the beginning of the challenges for the student-athletes. They then must learn to be independent. For the most part, they are here without any family or any support other than that provided by their coaches.

Smail said that learning to do everything by himself was one of the hardest transitions he had to make after moving to the United States.

“They just kind of put me on the plane. When I got here it was just kind of sink or swim,” Smail said.

Some of the students-athletes will not get to see their families with the exception of maybe two times a year, winter and summer breaks. That can make being away from home that much harder.

Calum Hill said that he struggled with being away from home his freshman year. He said that it has gotten much easier, but there are still some challenges.

“It can be hard at time being so far away from home. If anything happens back home, it’s hard not being there.” Hill said.

The international student-athletes bring a level of competitiveness that may be a little higher than what the American golfers are used to.

Coach Williams said that the reason for the higher level of competition is that the international golfers came to America specifically to play golf.

Williams said that if the players just wanted an education, they would go to a European university.  Many of the golfers that come to the United States hope to become professionals.

Williams also said that the work ethic of the international student-athletes helps make the rest of the team work harder to become better.

“Their level of dedication in the weight room, at the golf course and mental training, or whatever, is at a higher level which pushes the others,” Williams said.

The three international golfers have made a huge impact on ULM’s golf program.

Calum Hill has carded the lowest score from a Warhawk at every event this year, other than one. He scored four top-15 finishes in those five events this fall. Three of those five events saw Hill post a top-six finish.

Greg Smail captured his first collegiate win this fall at the Cardinal Intercollegiate at Louisville. Smail previously played at Louisville before transferring to ULM.