March 8, 2013
Mike Swartz, Athletics Media Relations Intern
OXFORD, Miss. - Every year, thousands of athletes from outside of the country come to the United States to participate in NCAA sports, but few of them would speak as highly of the opportunity they received more than Ole Miss junior golfer Tom Brown.
Hailing from Hertfordshire, England, Brown can't believe more athletes don't jump at the opportunity to play abroad in college.
"I don't understand why more people don't do this," Brown said. "They treat you so well here, which I didn't realize until I got over here. They treat you almost like a pro athlete, or better since they pay for your education."
Brown's sophomore season saw success as he was named to the Golf Coaches Association of America All-America Scholar team, SEC Academic Honor Roll as well as being named to the Dean's Honor Roll in the spring and UMAA Honor Roll in the fall. He was, however, looking to improve upon his 74.75 stoke average over the off-season.
"I changed coaches over the summer and worked really hard," said Brown. "I changed a few things with my swing and was able to come out with so much more confidence than last year."
As the 2012 fall season began, Brown realized this may be a better team than he had originally thought.
"Coming into this year I wasn't expecting too much because of the young team we had, so it was almost like a building year," said Brown. "But we were able to come out and play very well, our lineup changed a bit and I think the style of our lineup this year is much better than last season. This year we're just an overall better scoring team."
Finishing second on the team in stroke average in the fall with a 73.23, Brown saw much improvement in his game including a great performance at the Mason Rudolph Championship in which he set career marks in low 18 with a 68, low 54 with a 210, as well as best finish, finishing 6th overall, helping the Rebels place 3rd.
Before arriving in Oxford on campus Brown began his search for a college degree and place to continue his golfing career. He eventually decided the United States was the best option.
"There's no other place in the world where you can continue to play your sport at a high level, while getting a degree," said Brown. "The biggest factor for me was finding a big school, in a big conference like the SEC. I wanted to go to a school where I knew I was going to play, but I was still going to be challenged to get in the lineup, so it was all about finding that balance."
Brown knew the key to success in golf was a steady amount of play.
"You need to be able to play if you want to get better. If you're in college and aren't able to play during a semester, you won't be able to play in any tournaments during the offseason and you can't develop doing that."
After visits to schools like University of Nevada and UNLV, Brown ended up in Oxford, which originally took him by surprise.
"I had never been to the south before school, and it was a bit of a shock at first," Brown said. "I actually didn't think anyone was genuine because everybody was so nice, but it turns out they actually were that nice."
During his freshman season as a Rebel, Brown had a tough time adjusting to play in a different country.
"There's a big difference in the style of play, it took me about eight months when I first arrived to get the hang of it," Brown said. He notes the biggest difference is the grass and how it plays, "where I'm from its firm and fast and here it's softer so it was a very different change but I've got the hang of it now."
Now a redshirt junior due to a medical issues his sophomore season, Brown has loved his time stateside and Oxford.
"It's just a great school, I went on a few other visits but once I got here I fell in love with it, Brown said. "The people are so great and the facilities and course here are just fantastic."