CSU’s foreign golfers taking advantage of life, golf in the U.S.

Mack Beaulieu

Three young men laughing
CSU’s foreign golfers share a laugh  (Photo by Mack Beaulieu)

Max Oelfke, Parathakorn Suyasri and Jack Ainscough did not have much choice in coming to the United States if they wanted to build their golf game. Entering the 2018 spring, there hasn’t been much disappointment in making that decision.

Playing at Colorado State has given the three golfers a chance to experience new terrains and conditions to build their golf game. The time in the states has also enlightened them to the differences in comparison to their home countries. Some of their thoughts might come as a surprise.

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Coming to the U.S. to build their game, they find themselves in an environment that allows them to grow in other ways, not just golf.

“I found myself in the kind of difficult situation, it was either study or play golf in Germany, but I wanted to do both,” senior Max Oelfke said of his home country. “Really the only system that works really well for both… is only here in the U.S.”

Suyasri, a freshman from Thailand, and Ainscough, a freshman from England, both echo the same thoughts about their home countries.

“College sport in England is really nonexistent,” Ainscough said. “You go to professional team or an academy and if you’re not on that then your studying at uni’ and getting an apprenticeship at a job.”

For Suyasri, the pickings were even slimmer.

“Nowadays, Thai junior golfers, they’re starting to come to the states more,” Suyasri said. “Before, there’s no program for golfers to study. If you graduate high school, you just have to turn pro if you don’t come to the states.”

Beyond having a middle ground between the pros and a place to study, the environment has offered the players a chance to play in conditions they’re not used to.

“I’ve grown up on links,” Ainscough said. “Which is basically just sandbursts, forty mile an hour winds, rainin’ everyday pretty much and it’s just really firm and hard here… they have soft greens there.”

It’s not just the dry air though, the course style has also helped teach the golfers new skills that they can take with them should they become globe-roaming professionals.

“The greens is what first pops into my mind,” Oelfke said. “In Europe I feel like we have flat greens, a lot of straight forward puts, but here on the greens you have to be really creative. You have a lot of slopes, you have grain, you have different ground conditions, so this was a really big adjustment for me… You have really really fast greens over here, which you don’t have much of over in Europe.”

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Ainscough spoke on learning in altitude as well, something that makes Colorado State unique to many U.S. schools.

“Another big thing is the altitude here at 5,000 feet,” Ainscough said. “The ball just goes so much further than where it does where I live. It goes up ten, fifteen percent easy.”

Oelfke added a little clarification on how that affects their decision making on the course.

“Every state we’ve played, I think, has a different altitude,” he said. “How the wind affects the ball is different at altitude. So the winds blowing against you and usually you think, ‘Okay this is at least two irons more than I have to take, but wait I’m at 5,000 feet here, the wind doesn’t affect me as much as it would at sea-level.’”

Of course, life isn’t all about golf and the trio mostly had only good things to say about being at Colorado State and in the U.S..

“The time helped me a lot here,” Oelfke said, “The U.S. people have a very competitive and a very positive mindset…I feel like the American take on how you approach your game is a lot more positive…and it gives you a lot more confidence. It helped me approach the game better, I think.”

Maybe it’s the Colorado sunshine, but Ainscough thought the same.

“Everyone’s got a smile on their face. When I first came over I thought, ‘Jesus, these are on the bend,’ everyone’s just so happy. Everything’s so over the top..In England, I don’t know it might just be me, but I’m just dead chilled. Over here, it’s just so hype and ready to go.”

Besides the golf, travel and positive mindsets, there was just one big benefit for the three that might not surprise anybody.

“The women like our accent,” Ainscough laughed. “I’m taken though, so..”

The drawbacks were somewhat expected, like getting through airport security, having to repeat themselves, strange looks and not having the comforts of home. For Oelfke, the language barrier presented the biggest difficulty.

“I came with pretty poor english my first year. The problem is when you don’t speak very well, people might think …he must not be very smart,” Oelfke said. “I wanted to say so much my first year and I just couldn’t…You can’t express yourself, I think that was a hardest part about it.”

It’s something we should all keep in mind in our interactions with people new to our language, but the other thing he wanted on record might lose him sympathy in Colorado.

“I don’t like the beer here,” Oelfke said, “Everybody’s cheering up the beer, but the beer in Germany is so much better.”

Collegian reporter Mack Beaulieu can be reached at sports@collegian.com or on twitter @Macknz_James.