European golfer settling in to American game
The game of golf may have the same goal all over the world, but that doesn’t mean the strategy is the same.
SIU junior golfer Matt Greenfield, of England, has slowly adjusted to getting low scores in the United States and has led the team in scoring twice in the young spring season.
“The courses back home in England are much firmer and drier, so it requires a little more strategy and course management,” Greenfield said. “The rough is also longer, so you have to plan accordingly by taking less club off the tee and land the ball short of the greens because of how firm the grass is.”
Greenfield, a native of Hassocks, England, started his collegiate career at Rend Lake College in 2013. There, he was named to the 2015 Golf Coaches Association of America’s list of PING First-Team All-Americans. He also qualified for the National Junior College Athletic Association Division II golf tournament.
“With our program, it’s about bringing it every day and we have eight guys wanting to play every event,” said men’s golf coach Justin Fetcho. “Only five travel with us, and he’s had a good start to the spring. I’m looking for him to continue making strides on his start.”
On Feb. 21, Greenfield was named the Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Week after he led his team in scoring at the Wyoming Desert Invitational.
Aside from learning the American courses, he said he has had to adjust from junior college golf to Divison I golf.
“The practice and working out is a lot more intense than it was at Rend Lake and the competition is tougher,” said Greenfield, who was ranked nationally as the No. 7 golfer on the junior college circuit. “This opportunity to play here is cool because even though golf is more popular in Europe, there aren’t as many opportunities to play college golf because there aren’t as many universities.”
Greenfield is the only international player on the roster, and the first on the men’s golf roster Fetcho has had since he took over the program during the 2014-15 season.
“Being away from home has been difficult but I understand the opportunity to play at the collegiate level here is better than in Europe,” he said. “I’m truly excited to continue playing at this level and enjoy it for as long as it lasts.”
Greenfield said he has no plans of playing professionally, but won’t rule out the possibility if his game improves during the next year.
The junior’s next chance to compete will be at the Tennessee Tech Bobby Nichols Intercollegiate in Sevierville, Tenn., which runs from Sunday to Tuesday.
Ted Ward can be reached at [email protected] or 618-534-3303