COLUMBIA – Originally played using pebbles and sticks, the sport now known as golf was invented in the early 15th century in Scotland. And with the fall golf season starting on Saturday, both Missouri golf teams have a freshman from the nation that started the sport.
Euan Walker was recruited to the men's team by coach Mark Leroux, making him the third European player on the roster along with senior Emilio Cuartero and redshirt freshman Jordan Williams.
Leroux said that even though his team is proud to host the best players from Missouri, international recruiting is a necessity.
"There are some schools that will field a team of five foreigners," Leroux said. "Look at the U.S. Amateur Championship – 10 of the top 20 players were international, the final four were international and the top two were international. That's the American championship, but it's won by an international player. So, if we want to be good, we have to have some."
Walker said he chose Missouri over any other university in order to improve his game. His hometown of Troon, Scotland, is hosting the British Open in 2016, and he said he hopes to qualify.
"I went to Columbia to try and improve my golf, to try and take my golf to the next level," Walker said. "Of all the colleges I spoke to, Missouri was on the top of my list in terms of facilities and the golf program."
Walker qualified as the No. 5 spot for the Turning Stone Tiger Intercollegiate starting on Saturday.
Missouri women's golf coach Stephanie Priesmeyer found Jessica Meek while Meek was playing for the Scottish Ladies European team in Germany in summer 2012. Meek is ranked 346th in the World Amateur Golf Ranking and was sold on playing at Missouri when she saw the campus.
"Looking at the pictures online, it was just spectacular, it was was breathtaking," Meek said. "You watch videos online and you see the support that the school has behind it, it's just incredible. We've got nothing like that back home."
Along with the increase in temperature, Meek said that there are multiple differences between the courses back in her hometown of Carnoustie, Scotland.
"The grass so different. It's a lot more spongier out here than compared to back at the links course, where it was a lot more sand based," Meek said. "Carnoustie has the world's flattest putting green, so having some breaks in the green is definitely a little harder. It takes a while to get my head around that and have the confidence for hitting quite far outside the hole. But it's coming. It's all going in the right direction."
Priesmeyer said that bringing Meek to the team will open up future opportunities for international recruitment.
"With Jess, she's a big land for us," Priesmeyer said. "It was pretty crucial to get her, opens up a lot of opportunities in the future for recruiting in Scotland and England. They're good players, and they're certainly very appreciative of their opportunity."