Since ‘crossing the pond’ from England to the United States in the summer, George Gennings has gone from strength to strength as he aims to become a professional golfer.
College sport is taken extremely seriously in the US, with many players on the PGA Tour taking the college golf path, including England’s former world number one and four-time Ryder Cup winner Luke Donald, who studied at Northwestern University in Chicago.
“I think it gives you a platform to build from, and gives you an experience of what playing on tour would be like” said the Essex-born Gennings.
“I am currently studying at Reedley College in California, which is about 30 minutes south of Fresno, the nearest major city, and half way between San Francisco and Los Angeles,” he said.
“I’m planning on doing my four years out in the US, and hoping to graduate with either a degree in either Business or Economics.”
A future star?
Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler, Justin Thomas and Patrick Reed are just a few high-profile names that have taken the college and university route into professional golf, and Gennings is well on his way to following in their footsteps.
“If you go down say the Top 100 in the world rankings, I would guess that at least 60% of them played college golf,” said the 19-year-old.
“I am practicing every day with the team, but we don’t play any tournaments during the fall season due to CCCAA (California Community College Athletic Association) rules that only allow us to compete during the spring semester.
“I’ve played eight competitive rounds within the team as our coach runs an off-season schedule, where we play the courses that we’re going to be playing in our conference, and my current scoring average is 71.2 so I’m really pleased with that,” he said.
Gennings, who was the Youth Captain at Thorndon Park Golf Club whilst living in Essex, admits that the move from Brentwood to California and being separated from loved ones was a major challenge.
“The culture is very different to what I’ve grown up with, and even though I’ve been here for over four months, I’m still learning and adapting,” explained the Englishman.
“Missing home has without a doubt been the hardest thing. It’s such a tough experience being away from them, I honestly can’t describe how much I’ve missed being away from them”.
“If you go down say the Top 100 in the world rankings, I would guess that at least 60% of them played college golf” – George Gennings
British golf courses are renowned for their unpredictable conditions, whether that be due to erratic weather or difficult-to-read greens and fairways. So how has he adapted to the American course layout?
“It’s just a completely different style to back in England. That’s been the toughest thing to adapt to,” he admitted.
“I would describe it over here as target golf. There’s not as much wind so you haven’t got to worry about the ball moving in the air, no rain or cold so the ball is going to go further, and all the greens are pretty soft, so the ball isn’t going to go very far once it gets on the green. I’m slowly getting there!
“Everyone can go online and see how you’ve done, so there’s nowhere to hide”
“I feel playing out here is going to help me achieve my goal of making it pro as one week I might have a tournament in Arizona, then the next in Carolina, and that is very similar to what guys on the PGA tour face now, traveling from event to event and having to be away from family for prolonged periods of time” he said.
“You’re playing at top quality golf courses against some of the best university teams, so it will allow me to compare my abilities on the toughest stage. Everyone can go online and see how you’ve done, so there’s nowhere to hide.”
So, what is the process now for the 19-year-old?
“It’s mainly general studies at college at the moment. This year is more of a transition between college and university.
“I will be transferring to university next year, where I will do my major in my Junior and Senior (third and fourth) years. I’m hoping to get some funding from wherever I go and start playing in regular tournaments,” he said.
“The ultimate goal is to play professional golf, whether that is out in America, in Europe, or the Middle East. I’ll come back to England after I’ve completed my four years, sit down with my family and coach to evaluate everything, and if we both feel that I can make a living out of it then I’ll give it my best shot!”
You can follow George on Twitter @GGennings