PHOENIX – LinkedIn and Indeed could never get the job done, so Luke Greig turned to an international recruiting service to connect his dream of playing college golf in Arizona with his aspirations to turn professional one day.
On standby on his home turf in Scotland, the birthplace of golf, Greig got the call and promptly answered his phone.
He received an opportunity to join the South Mountain Community College golf team, where the up-and-coming golfer has started his journey in the United States nearly 5,000 miles away from home.
Collegiate Golf USA, which connects golfers with coaches from overseas, made it possible.
“A lot of the international players will actually use a recruiting service since we’re not able to travel over there,” South Mountain golf coach Brady Edwards said. “Especially with COVID, there was a lot more opportunity through Zoom and profiles. A lot of times you can see a person’s recruiting website like you’re running a business.”
Greig arrived in Arizona at the end of August, just in time to start the season for South Mountain. As Greig kicks his college golf career in full gear after playing in his first tournament, the newcomer has some adaptations to make before he can fully feel comfortable navigating courses in an unknown climate to him.
The wayfinding around new terrain started in September when Greig played in his first tournament, finishing in the top 30 at the Gaucho Shootout with a score of 11-over par, shooting 77 and 76 in his two rounds at the GCU golf course.
The bright side to Greig changing his whole strategy within a new place? With the combination of the elevation in Phoenix and the heat the Valley of the Sun provides, the golf ball reacts a bit differently off the tee in comparison to the wet and windy conditions in Scotland.
“The ball goes a lot further,” Greig said with a laugh. “Something like 20 yards off the tee, which is helpful.”
Phoenix sits at just over 1,000 feet of elevation, whereas when compared to Edinburg, the capital of Scotland lies on the water and doesn’t reach over 200 feet of elevation at its highest point.
Along with increased distance on his clubs, with Scotland offering primarily links-style golf, Greig has needed to create new ways to hit the ball near the hole on approach shots.
On links-style courses, players will at times tend to roll the ball up to the green, while in the U.S. players are mostly forced to attack a specific landing point, using spin on the ball to go in the direction the player intends.
“I really like hitting a six iron from 40 yards out and just running it to the green,” Greig said. “Here you have to hit it to the flag and spin it back like 10 feet.”
South Mountain Community College has benefitted from Greig’s presence, offering a disparity of talent on all sides of the roster and implementing new tricks into a player’s game.
“I think that’s why we like recruiting internationally because he can help other players adapt to different environments and someone from Phoenix can help him get used to the green here or get used to getting better yardages because it’s so hot,” Edwards said. “He can help players play in rain, wind and hit different shots.”
Though Greig has settled down on the course, there are still struggles he faces outside the tee box. The freshman has now been away from home for longer than ever before, with an eight-hour time difference between him and his family.
“It’s tough. Anyone who says it’s easy is lying. A few nights I’ve been alone, and it’s gotten quite emotional cause you’re not with your parents,” Greig said. “People say it’s only a phone call away, but it’s an eight-hour time difference … If you’re feeling down at nighttime, you can’t phone them because they’re sleeping.”
While Luke’s father, Colin Greig, introduced him to the sport, he says Luke’s mother deserves a lot of credit for the work she did behind the scenes. The support, rides to practice and cheers are something Luke will always miss when playing far from home.
“We catch up when we can two or three times a week. Whether it’s just messages or Zoom calls, we try to get him to keep focus and keep working hard,” Colin said. “I’m extremely, extremely proud. We can’t praise him highly enough.”
With all of the baggage that comes with leaving family and friends for a new place, Greig said he finally feels comfortable and settled in, with work left to be done on the course.
“I just have to adapt to that,” Greig said. “The whole United States thing was the plan from the very start when I started wanting to become a pro golfer.”
South Mountain has eight golf championships, and with the most recent coming in the spring of 2022, there are high expectations ahead. The Cougars play their next tournament locally, hitting the links Nov. 12-13 at the Thunderbird Collegiate Invitational at Dobson Ranch in Mesa.
Greig plans to stay at South Mountain to further develop for two seasons, followed by aspirations of transferring to a Division I program.
According to the NCAA Eligibility Center, If Greig is recruited by any Div. I programs he will be able to practice and compete as soon as he transfers, provided he meets the requirements: The student completes at least one full-time semester, completes an average of 12 transferable credit hours in each term attended full-time and earns a GPA of 2.50 or above in those credit hours.
Over time, Greig will need to continue adapting in order to keep alive his dream of playing Div. I golf and, eventually, turning professional.
“It’ll take time. I’m not going to become good in this climate in just a week’s time,” Greig said. “It’s the mental strength you’ve got to do for the climate and then you’ve got to adapt. Adapting isn’t an easy thing, it’ll just come with time.”