COLUMBIA — It all started in the town of Guestwick, England, on a small farm known as Nethergate. William Harrold started his golfing career in a place he describes as “the middle of nowhere.”
Harrold picked up the game from his father. In such a small town, Harrold looked to his surroundings to develop his golf game.
“We got some land on the farm in the meadow where I would hit balls,” Harrold said. “It’s about 300 yards long and the grass was cut like a fairway.”
Harrold is now beginning his freshman year in college. He no longer finds himself in the middle of nowhere. Instead, he is at a university that boasts more than 28,000 students, including more than 5,000 other freshmen. This is Harrold’s first time in Missouri and only his second time in the United States.
Harrold decided on MU with the help of freshman teammate Michael Garden. Harrold knew he wanted to play golf in the United States and met Garden during a match in Scottsdale, Ariz. Garden mentioned Mizzou and put him in touch with coach Mark Leroux.
“Michael Garden kind of found him,” Leroux said. “Garden was a kid that we had recruited and signed at the time or had a verbal commitment from.”
According to Harrold, settling in has been easier because of Leroux and Garden.
“I think if I came here not knowing anyone at all, it would be a little difficult,” Harrold said.
Harrold and Garden say they get along with the rest of the players on the team. Some of them live together in the dorms, and they find time to hang out at parties.
The decision to play in the United States was something Harrold said he and his family had been discussing for a while.
“They are excited about me being here, and hopefully they will be able to visit at some point next year,” Harrold said.
For now, Harrold keeps in touch with his family by calling them from his cell phone, which he admits can be expensive. They also communicate from time to time using an internet program called Skype that allows them to talk for free.
“Golf is on the top of my list,” Harrold said. “I want to do really well, and I have to consider my academics as well, which are really important.”
Harrold is on a 25 percent scholarship and says he is still getting used to the academic side of Mizzou.
“I’m getting there,” Harrold said. “I’m struggling in political science a little bit because I’m not really that into American government. But I’m sure I will get used to it.”
Harrold has already made his mark outside of the classroom.
“Will drives the ball dead straight and is a real solid iron player,” said teammate Pete Malnati. “As he gets used to life over here, he is going to be a big help to our golf team.”
Getting used to life in Missouri is a work in progress. The weather conditions as well as the golf courses offer new challenges.
“It’s definitely a lot hotter. I sweat a lot more. Of course I grew up on the coast where there was always wind,” Harrold said. “The course was a lot more dried up, so you had to run shots on the ground. Links golf.”
Harrold said he wants to contribute to the team right away and said he thinks he can be a starter this season.
“I felt like I fit in straight away playing skins and fun games before school started,” Harrold said. “I hit the ball as well as all of them, and my short game has really improved. I am very competitive. I hate losing.”
Harrold credits his improved short game to practice, but says there is still room for improvement.
“At the moment, I am struggling with right to left putts. They should have dropped. I think I still need to work on putt and touch and getting used to these different types of grasses,” Harrold said.
Along with his play, Harrold said he is also hoping to add a bit of a different culture to the team.
“Everyone seems to like my accent.” Harrold said. “I seem to be quite funny over here.”
Leroux said he thinks having some culture is good for the team.
“It’s always nice to have something different,” he said. “The other freshmen were from Missouri. They knew each other and played together forever. Sometimes it’s good to bring in a fresh face.”
However, Harrold isn’t a completely different addition to the team. Malnati says he sees similarities between Harrold and former Mizzou golfer Ben Scott.
“Scott was a consistent solid golfer who never shot higher than a 74 no matter where we went,” Malnati said. “I can tell Will is going to be the same way.”