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The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

European golfers discover second home at Texas State

Photo Courtesy of Texas State Athletics
Texas State junior golfer Kasper Nyland watches the ball after hitting it at the Miracle Maui Jim Intercollegiate in Scottsdale, Arizona, Sept. 8, 2023.

Texas State’s community allows its international transfers to acclimate swiftly, but for Texas State’s Scandinavian golf players, the culture shock after their transfer was hard-hitting.

Since their arrival, however, these players have gotten comfortable and gained confidence through supportive friendships and persistence in training.

Senior Kasper Nyland, a transfer from Denmark, said the cultural differences he encountered in America were plentiful. One of the biggest differences was Americans’ willingness to take pride in their successes.

“I’ve never really liked the part that Denmark does where we kind of talk ourselves down,“ Nyland said. “So, if people ask me ‘Are you good in school?’ I might say ‘Yeah, I’m okay,’ even though I have a 3.8 GPA.”

Nyland said playing in Texas has made him believe in himself more. He achieved this confidence by being outperformed by opponents he felt he was more skilled than.

“I think confidence is a thing that there’s not enough of in Denmark and that’s something I see a lot here,” Nyland said. “Even people that might not be as good as me at golf might show more confidence and therefore sometimes play better than me.”

Nyland said many people doubted his ability to play golf at a high level growing up, which fueled him to begin looking at colleges when he was 18. He said the opportunity to come to America and prove the doubters wrong made him become a better golfer.

“Everybody was kind of like ‘Oh, you’re crazy if you want to go to the [U.S.], I mean that’s so far away, you’re not good enough at golf,’” Nyland said.

Tom Roed Karlsen, originally from Norway, transferred to Texas State from North Alabama in pursuit of a better opportunity after one of his closest friends graduated. It wasn’t long before Karlsen got comfortable as he said he feels like he can rely on his teammates here no matter what.

Karlsen said one of the biggest lessons he has learned at Texas State is that dedication and persistence will beat any natural talent. This newfound virtue has since allowed him to work harder to surpass others.

“That’s probably one that we hear from coach here very often, that hard work beats talent all the time, so that’s the biggest thing,” Karlsen said. “You kind of have to figure out a way to get better every day.”

Karlsen experienced southern hospitality the moment he arrived at Texas State. This came as a pleasant and unexpected surprise to him given how back home in Norway people aren’t quite as welcoming, he said.

Sophomore Sakke Siltala, originally from Finland, said COVID negatively impacted his recruiting process because coaches could not visit to Europe to scout players. This brought a notion of uncertainty to the conversation of his future. However, Texas State’s offer was one he couldn’t pass up.

“I had coaches that had contacted me and at the time I was 16 or 17, and you know, I didn’t really have much knowledge on college golf at all, so I didn’t want to make any commitments,” Siltala said. “I kind of got too result-oriented at the time and I didn’t play good golf, but like I said, luckily Coach Howell sent me an offer, obviously very, very pleased that I got the offer in the end.”

Siltala said he felt that Texas State was the best way for him to pursue his dream of playing professional golf. He also said he sees more players now wanting to play college golf rather than stay and train in their home country because they get the opportunity to compete against the best amateur golfers in the world.

“I saw it as the best path for me to have a chance to be a professional golfer,” Siltala said. “I heard too many stories of players that came from college and went on tour versus players that would just grind in their home country. I think it’s becoming more of a trend for good amateurs to want to play college golf because you get to see your level of golf.”

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