Freshman Peter Beneteau came to Hillsdale from Canada to play on the golf team. He has not yet chosen a major, but he is considering either economics or business.
How did you choose Hillsdale?
With golf, opportunities to play collegiately in Canada aren’t really there. You can, but there aren’t scholarships. I had been looking to play in the U.S. for awhile, and then Coach Harner reached out to me. I’d heard about the school before, and learned they had a golf team. I come from a very Catholic upbringing, and a lot of the stuff they preach about here is very close to my beliefs. It’s a perfect fit.
What’s the camaraderie of the golf team like?
It was different at first. Golf is such an individual sport, you finish a round and you couldn’t really care less about how you shot, it’s about how your teammates did. I like all the guys on the team. We’re a really close group. Our main swing coach is Coach Gilchrist. He really knows the game and really knows what we need to work on and how to make us better. I’m self-taught, and I teach myself pretty much everything, so it’s been really cool to actually have someone else look at my swing and what I’m doing. To have him on the course with us during a round is really cool, especially if you see him and you need help or have anything to ask. I love everything about the program so far, it’s been great.
You said you’re self-taught. How did you start teaching yourself?
I just kind of taught myself how to move, and I’d try to replicate the motions of the swings I’d see, and just focus on making it all comfortable. I also play with a different grip. Normally you have your right hand low, and you play right-handed, but I play with my left hand low. “Cross-hand” is the term for it. I get teased about it a little bit. I was probably supposed to be left-handed, because that’s how I play, but I’m actually right-handed. So I guess I just grabbed it that way when I was a kid, and I guess my dad just saw it and didn’t think to change it. He probably thought I was gonna grow out of it, but then as I got older, when he saw me as I turned 10 and 11 and was hitting the ball a lot, he probably said, ‘Oh, might as well let him do his own thing, it seems to be working.” I’ve stuck with it and it’s worked so far, although I can hit the other way too. If I dedicated a whole year I could probably switch over, but I don’t want to do that.
How did you get your start in golf?
There’s all the stupid little home videos of me hitting shots when I was little. I guess my dad taught me — just hitting little plastic balls in the backyard. I got my first membership when I was 11 and I’ve been playing nonstop since then. Our high school team wasn’t very good, but I made it pretty far individually.
What has your first season been like?
Not as good as I would have liked, if I’m being 100 percent honest. I’ve had a couple good finishes, a couple top tens, but even the top tens were less than great scores, in my personal opinion I could have been a lot better. But it’s been tough to balance it all at first, so the first year has been a bit more of a trial year. I haven’t played badly by any means, but I haven’t played as good as I would like to. All in all, it’s been good learning this year and I think next year will be a lot better. And we still have the conference championships this weekend. It’s time to get ready for that and try to play a really good tournament.
What do you miss most about Canada?
Family. I’m the oldest of 10, so I have nine younger siblings and I have a little brother that’s two-and-a-half, so I miss him to death. I don’t miss the weather, since it’s pretty similar down here. It’ll be great to get back over the summer.
How have you adjusted to America?
I do like being down here a lot, it was different at first, but it’s not too different. There’s obviously noticeable things, like the speed limits and stuff, but it’s been an easy adjustment. I feel more Americanized now. I don’t feel like a Canadian anymore.
What’s the biggest difference between Canada and the US?
The craziness for college sports, in terms of football and basketball, blows me away. I guess I can understand why, but it was definitely new to me to see everybody gathered around the TV for football games. I’m like, “It’s just football!”
What are your personal goals regarding your performance for the next four years?
It’s tough to say, it’s such an individual thing. It’s hard to really set long-term goals, other than just try to improve everything. This year, I’ve improved a lot of things, but the scores haven’t quite come down just yet. You’ve got to just keep swinging the club and hope that the scores come down eventually.