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NMSU Women’s Golf Team: Internationally Designed | bleedCrimson.net :: Your Source for NMSU Aggies Sports News

NMSU Women’s Golf Team: Internationally Designed

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Written By: Naira Mendoza, For NMSU Media Relations

LAS CRUCES, N.M. - From half-way around the world to our northern neighbor, the New Mexico State women's golf team consists of eight talented players, four of whom needed their passports before orientation. After finishing second at last year's WAC Championships, this diverse team strives for a Conference title this year. Endless opportunities and drive led these international players to become Aggies.

Junior Georgina Dunn (Northhampton, England), sophomore Apinporn "Mint" Swashcuto (Bangkok, Thailand), sophomore Suteera "Pang" Chanachai (Bangkok, Thailand) and sophomore Lauren "Buz" Bowerman-Ritchie (Oshawa, Ontario) all came to the United States to play golf at the collegiate level with hopes of something bigger.

Faced with the challenges of a new school, country and a different culture, each player had adjustments to make. For Dunn, it was the little things that made the transition difficult.

"It is quite different," she said. "It takes some getting use to. You have to change your way of thinking."

As far as the golf courses in the Southwest, Dunn described them as more opened compared to the more defined fairways in England. In addition to adjusting to new courses, Dunn also had to learn to golf without a caddy and the support they provide her.

"Someone to back up your decisions," she said. "You get confidence from them."

Swaschuto, although originally from Thailand, spent her high school career in Australia because there are more tournaments for juniors, and women are able to play on a high school team.

From Thailand to Australia, Swaschuto recalled the cultural differences, including missing her grandmother's cooking.

"It was quite a shock. I couldn't speak English, the food was different, and the climate was different. In Australia it was colder and I wasn't able to speak Thai."

Like Swaschuto, Chanachai had a language barrier to overcome.

"Here, they have so many more tournaments and more opportunities for me to get more experience," Chanachai said. "You can get a scholarship and get everything paid for, go out and play golf and meet different people."

Chanachai is a great asset to the team. She finished second in the WAC Women's Golf Championships last season. With her mind set on winning tournaments this year, Chanachai knows she has to practice hard and stay focused.

"I have to keep my head to do what I need to do, and to do the best for myself and for the golf team."

As a Canadian, Bowerman-Ritchie did not face as many changes as the others, except for the weather. The warmth of the Southwest enables her to play year-round, which led her from the colder climate of Canada to NMSU.

The international players are not the only ones who have to make adjustments on the team. The U.S. players also have to do some adapting of their own.

Senior Brittany Collins (Bluffton, S.C.) enjoys learning about her teammates' cultures, and tries to help with whatever she can, particularly with their English.

"It's difficult, because you want to get to know them, but the language is different," Collins said. "I went to an international golf school, so I'm used to playing with people from different countries and nationalities."

Collins is just as much help to the team out on the golf course. She finished third at last year's WAC tournament, and now the pressure is on for the team's only senior.

"Especially since it's my senior year I'm expected to travel and to do better in conference this year."

Assistant coach Jackie Booth also helps the players as much as possible. As someone who has had the opportunity to travel internationally, she understands and relates to some of the issues the players deal with.

"You have to be understanding of all the changes they are going through," Booth said. "The littlest things can be so different. In Sweden, the doors open the opposite of ours. I was pushing the pull and pulling the push."

She recalls the frustrating feelings of having to pay for something and not understanding the currency, or how weird it felt to have to drive on the opposite side of the road.

"Just coming to college in itself is a big adjustment and putting all that on top of it, it's hard," Booth said. "I try to keep a close eye on them at first to make sure things are going well and they aren't getting too homesick.

"They are very, very grateful to be able to come to the United States and receive an education, and to play golf and travel, and that's very refreshing."

With the love of the game in their hearts, they traveled across oceans and countries to NMSU in hopes of rising to the top. The arrival, the initial shock to new surroundings, new languages and then, finally, adaptation and a small sense of comfortableness are all parts of being an international player.