Top Swiss golf player talks about his US college experience

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This week, MADE Scholarships will highlight the college experience of former top golf player Boris Bruckert. Boris, a native from Luzern, Switzerland, is a former student of Berry College, Rome, USA. During his college golf career, Boris won (among other things) 2 college tournaments, qualified 3 times for the NAIA national championships and was named All-American his senior year. After obtaining both his bachelor and MBA degrees at Berry, he worked as a junior marketing manager at Intersport. Boris is currently working as an account manager at IMS consulting, providing market intelligence for the company in the pharmaceutical and healthcare industry. Read below about Boris’s college experience.

Boris could you tell us a bit about your background?
I started to play golf at the age of 13, when the golf boom just had started, and soon found out I could compete with the best in my age group. Over time I won 3 national Swiss tournaments, placed 11th at the Swiss International Amateur Championship and reached 3rd place with my team at the University World Championships while representing Switzerland. It’s fair to say that golf has opened a lot of doors for me and eventually made it possible for me to study in the USA.
 
In 2001 you decided to pursue your Bachelor degree in America. What were your reasons to take this step?
It was a combination pursuing an education while keeping the door open for a professional golf career. Furthermore, I always wanted to study abroad so this was an ideal combination.
 
You eventually ended up in Rome (GA) at Berry College on a golf scholarship--could you tell us what made you decide to go to this university?
I was looking for a university with both strong academics as well as a strong golf team. Next to that I wanted to go to a place where I could play golf all year round. Thanks to a personal connection I already had in Atlanta, I was able to visit Berry six months prior to the start of university and I immediately had a positive connection with the coach and team.

What were some of the biggest challenges during the recruiting process for you?
I found it very difficult to gather knowledge on administrative processes to apply for a college, rules about eligibility, different leagues, etc. I did not have support from an agency so I had to find everything out myself. It was really time consuming, and on top of that it was hard to get in contact with college coaches.

You were studying and living with international athletes while you were in college. How was that experience?
During my first semester, I lived in the on-campus dorms with a non-athlete. I got along with him, but it was tough because our daily schedules were nothing alike. From the second semester, I was able to live with athletes in houses outside campus. This was great for the interaction with other players and my integration in the team. Other international athletes became my family away from home, and they are people with whom I’m still in contact with long after university.

Was it easy for you to balance your class schedule with practice and competition?
As an athlete, you need to manage your time appropriately in order to perform well both on and off the course/court. If you fall back in either academics or athletics, it will impact your performance in the other area as well. Ultimately, I didn’t want to risk losing my scholarship/eligibility due to bad grades. The first semester was an adjustment but from that point on, it was easy to juggle both academics and athletics. Discipline and time management were key.

In your opinion what was the level of play in the NAIA?
Even though it was not the top level (NCAA D1), it was fairly tough competition. It was similar to the national/international tournaments that I used to play at home during the summer. In the States, you learn to play rather than practice. You learn to fight for a team even though you’re competing in a primarily individual sport such as golf. Lastly, in college, you learn a lot about your body and mind as everything changes: practice, food, intensity and your surroundings / lifestyle. It’s an exciting and challenging experience.

Being a student athlete, how well did this experience prepare you for your professional career in business?
Being a student athlete, especially an international student athlete, definitely pushed me to improve certain skills, such as time management and discipline. I was part of a team and found that preparation is the key to performing well under pressure. Overall, I would say that the combination of these experiences taught me a lot about how to work, compete as a team, and handle pressure situations.

Do you have any advice for young motivated European athletes who are thinking about studying in the U.S.?
When you have the chance and you are good enough, do it! It’s a privilege for a few to study in the States while pursuing your sport ambitions….and on top of it, you get paid to do it!

What advice would you give young players who are thinking about going professional after college?
I would say that the training and competition level in the US provides a good base to find out whether you’re good enough to compete against some of the best. Give it 100% and set yourself goals and a timeline to turn pro. It also helps, of course, to ask your fellow teammates or college player alumni who may have turned pro for some good advice. But don’t lose sight of your studies because they’re the best backup if it doesn’t work!



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