Cobra golf finds talent from across the pond
Published: Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, September 18, 2012 17:09
Cobra golf teams of the past have always been made up of players strictly from inside the boundaries of Illinois and the United States.
The fall of 2012 roster has a new, exciting twist. Two English-born players have joined the Cobras golf program.
Freshman Jonathan Dawson and Sophomore Connor Brockhurst-Souter hail from the United Kingdom. Both are experienced golfers from overseas that bring talent and a new style of play with them to the American game.
Head Coach Zach McNabney is elated to have them on board.
“The one nice thing about the foreign players is that they’re just looking for a chance to play,” McNabney said.
A chance to play is certainly what they will get, especially during the spring season, while preparing for a good performance in post-season play.
“Another reason I wanted to bring them in now, is that during spring time, when we’re trying to qualify for nationals, usually the weather is worse,” he explained. “If they’re used to it, they’re not going to worry when the weather gets bad.”
Brockhurst-Souter and Dawson recognized the advantages of playing golf for Parkland in their decision to come to Champaign.
“It was the best offer I received and I liked the courses,” Freshman Jonathan Dawson said. Dawson also received offers from other Junior Colleges in Boston, Tennessee and both North and South Carolina.
The full ride served as a great advantage to Dawson, as golf scholarships are not something usually offered in England.
Dawson came straight from his home in England to play his freshman season. Brockhust-Souter took a little different of a path on his way to Parkland.
“I played a semester of college golf before,” Brockhurst-Souter said. “This is my second semester in college.”
Brockhurst-Souter started at Midland Junior College down in Midland, Texas, for his first semester of college golf in America.
However, he found an immediate connection to Parkland.
“I knew a player that used to golf here a year and a half ago named Matt Hart who was from England,” he said. “Also, this was the school that gave me the best offer to come.”
Matt Hart was a 2011 Parkland College graduate that ranked No. 117 in the NJCAA polls for scoring average. He was the last foreign-born player Parkland had on the roster until now.
Despite Brockhurst-Souter and Dawson being from overseas, McNabney was able to find them thanks to some remarkable recruiting services.
“One came through a company that our former English player came from, which helped,” McNabney said. “Jonathan actually came through one that our soccer coach Josh Alford uses for his women’s team.”
“The guy that was Dawson’s contact with that company went to Parkland. So there’s kind of a nice combination there.”
Both Brockhurst-Souter and Dawson can point out many differences between the game of golf in England and the way it’s played here in the states.
“Weather conditions are much different, you don’t hit the ball as far as you do out here,” Brockhurst-Souter explained. “America is easier to play than over in England.”
American-style courses always consist of many trees and different grass, which is less thick than that of England’s.
“There wasn’t really an adjustment. It helps with another Englishman being over here as well,” Dawson explained. “We live together too so we just get on with it.”
Brockhurst-Souter is certainly glad to have Dawson along for the ride with him as well.
“It takes a lot of homesickness away that I would probably get,” Brockhurst-Souter said. “It’s nice to have someone to be able to relate to. I’m very grateful I’ve got another Englishman living with me.”
Even with the differences in backgrounds between themselves and the eleven other American players on the Cobra roster, the two said they don’t get treated any differently.
“Everyone’s friends with each other on the team,” Brockhurst-Souter said. “We get along playing with each other on the courses. Chemistry-wise we’re really good.”
Dawson has also felt very comfortable adjusting to a new life with new teammates.
“It’s good, and we’re going to have a night where we have team bonding like a poker night or something like that,” he explained. “Everyone seems to be getting along alright so it’s all good at the moment.”
Despite this being the first year of college golf for both Brockhurst-Souter and Dawson in the United States, they are expecting big things for themselves and the Cobras.
“I didn’t know how our golf was going to be until I came out,” Brockhurst-Souter said. “Judging by what I’ve seen so far I think we can do very well this season.”
Dawson agrees with Brockhurst-Souter.
“We’ve set ourselves high expectations by winning the first tournament,” Dawson said. “Hopefully we can maintain that form, and for myself be able to get to the tee more often than not. I want to get transferred after two years so hopefully I can put some good scores together.”
Dawson appeared in the opening tourney of the year for Parkland out at Rend Lake. It was a tournament that the Cobras went on to win. He fired 76 both days for a solid two-day total of 152. Brockhurst-Souter has not made an appearance in a tournament for the Cobras yet in the fall.
McNabney hopes to be able to continue getting foreign players to come in and play at Parkland for the future.
“You have to spend some time building it up and now we’ve had three,” he said. “It definitely helps because you’re always kind of looking at getting foreign players.”
The Cobras will be heading to Marion, Ill., this weekend, where they will face John A. Logan College.