America is the land of opportunity, which is why Mississippi State University women’s golfer Ela Grimwood, a junior from Auckland, New Zealand, chose to leave New Zealand and continue to advance her golf career in the U.S.
“It is kind of what everyone does in New Zealand because there aren’t as many people (from New Zealand) who play competitively in America,” Grimwood said. “So anyone who wants to keep going in their golf career will probably come over here.”
Grimwood was first introduced to golf when she was six years old by her uncle a week before she moved out of England, where she was born, to the city of Auckland, New Zealand.
“My uncle was just swinging a golf club in his backyard and I wanted to have a go, and when we got to New Zealand I joined a golf club right away,” Grimwood said. “When I was little, they would have junior day so I would play every week, and then they would have junior lessons like once every two or three weeks."
By middle school and high school, Grimwood started to play golf almost daily. From Auckland, New Zealand, to Starkville, it is about a 20-hour flight. Grimwood said it was because of Rica Tse, a golfer at MSU who graduated in 2015, that she came to MSU.
“I was looking at schools and there was this girl from the same area as me who graduated from Mississippi State off of the golf team, so I talked to her,” Grimwood said. “Through her, I got to here."
Grimwood said her first impression of Starkville was the people's nice demeanor, and her first impressions of the MSU campus was its large size. Grimwood said she first came to campus at night.
“Everything was so big. I saw the Hump and I actually thought it was the football stadium,” Grimwood said. “I thought this is massive, and then the next day I actually saw the football stadium and I was like, 'Dang.' It was a lot bigger than what I was expecting.”
The wind in New Zealand can be intense, and Grimwood said the time spent playing in those winds have given her kind of an advantage when dealing with winds other golfers may not be used to.
“I have played some courses with massive, massive winds,” Grimwood said. “On days when we have a tournament and everyone else thinks it is windy, then it is like not so bad for me. So I guess there is a bit of an edge there.”
Another advantage of coming from New Zealand to the U.S. is when she goes home during the summer, it is winter in New Zealand and the weather is very similar to Mississippi winters. This allows her to practice while at home.
“At the moment, with it being really wet, since when I go home over the summer it is winter at home and it is wet there,” Grimwood said. “I guess that kind of gives me an advantage because I got used to playing in it.”
Grimwood said while the team practices by either improving their swing or lifting weights, so much of golf goes past experiences to adapt on the fly to weather and course conditions.
“Before we get to tournaments we prepare as much as possible by working on our swing, and I guess more of our technique,” Grimwood said. “By the time we get to the golf course, we practice in all conditions, including when it is this cold. We are kind of used to a lot of things, so we have to use our past experiences to work on what is going on on the day.”
In most college tournaments, the final standings are based off the total score of a team, which is the best five players for each round and then the total number of round totals are added together. This is a little different because it is both individual and a team effort, something Grimwood said she likes.
“It was kind of weird experience at first because we have played in team events at home but they were more of a match play,” Grimwood said. “Where as this one (is stroke play), it is kind of nice to have because it is not always reliant on you. So if you are having a bad day, someone else is going to come in for you. It is nice to have a fall back, but also nice to work collectively on something rather than on your own the whole time.”
Grimwood said the golf team is very close—not only in practice or out on the course, but also outside of those things.
“We will live with someone else on a team, we will go to dinners together. Sometimes if it is National Pancake Day, we will have pancakes," Grimwood said. “It is not just on the golf course or at workouts, we actually like spending time together and we do so all the time.”