The Hillsdale College golf team, pic­tured at a tour­nament in Houston, has ath­letes from Aus­tralia and England. Andrew Berryhill | Courtesy

Hillsdale is not known for attracting large numbers of inter­na­tional stu­dents, but two Hillsdale golfers, sophomore George Roberts and junior Liam Purslowe, have crossed hemi­spheres to attend Hillsdale.

Coach Nathan Gilchrist said the golf team looks for qual­ified ath­letes around the world.

“We have recruited stu­dents from all over the globe,” Gilchrist said. “Every year we are looking for stu­dents willing and able to be student-ath­letes at Hillsdale College. Thank­fully, the school attracts only those who are serious about the edu­cation.”

Gilchrist noticed that both Roberts and Purslowe had the aca­demic talents and ath­letic abil­ities to fit in well at Hillsdale.

Roberts is from Portsmouth, England and grew up playing golf and soccer. For many years, Roberts ded­i­cated his time to soccer, but then in high school he began to focus on golf.

“I used to play futbol, or soccer, back in England and that was my sport, and then I had a change of heart, really. I was pretty good at soccer, I don’t want to brag,” Roberts said.

He appre­ciated that golf was an indi­vidual sport.

“I wanted to move the pressure from external to just me,” Roberts said.

After con­cen­trating on golf for years, Roberts looked for schools where he could con­tinue playing. That’s when he found Hillsdale.  

“It was for golf,” Roberts said. “I looked for the highest aca­demic and Division II golf and Hillsdale came up, so I applied and the coaches had great interest…so it all fell into place really.”

Moving to a new con­tinent all the way from Portsmouth, England, Roberts admitted that he missed home when he first came.

“I did get pretty homesick, but I soon found my good circle of friends, and yeah, I’m still here,” Roberts said.

He said he found the golf team to be a good fit and loved the team’s dynamics.

“It’s like our own little broth­erhood inside the overall family of the campus,” Roberts said. “It’s our own tight circle where we really trust each other…that’s what mainly kept me here when I was homesick the first semester.”  

Roberts said that accli­mating to the unique Hillsdale atmos­phere was the biggest cul­tural change for him when he came to the States.

“Hillsdale is a slightly dif­ferent place than any other place…but hon­estly, I love it here. It’s just such a nice place to get away and study,” Roberts said.  

Roberts loves golfing, and though he doesn’t see himself doing any­thing serious with it after grad­u­ation, he enjoys the oppor­tunity to compete now.

“For me, it’s just an enjoyable thing,” he said. “Takes me out of studying. Takes me away from all the stress of school.”

Even though they are all the way “across the pond,” Roberts said his parents have been very sup­portive, and his Mum texts him very reg­u­larly.  But it’s not always easy for him to be so far from his family and friends.

“There’s no real lifestyle changes at all,” Roberts said. “Obvi­ously I am more than 3,000 miles from home and it’s a dif­ferent country, a slightly dif­ferent language…but hon­estly it’s just being away from people you can speak to and truly trust…Other than that it’s pretty good.”

Like Roberts, one of the other members of Hillsdale’s golf team grew up playing golf and came all the way to Hillsdale to keep playing. Liam Purslowe is a junior from Perth, Aus­tralia, and since the uni­versity at home didn’t have the same ath­letic oppor­tu­nities, he came to Hillsdale.

Purslowe also likes the culture of Hillsdale — and even likes being far away from home.

“Golf is what attracted me over here…[and] being so far away from home,” Purslowe said. “Hillsdale is a small school. I like the idea of being a name rather than a number, so that was probably the main defining factor in deciding to come here.”

While missing home, Purslowe said he never got des­per­ately homesick.

“I was far enough away from home that it was like, at the same time you realize you are homesick, but you know that you can’t go back, so it actually sort of helps in a way,” Purslowe said. “It’s not like you can jump on a flight or drive there, or some­thing like that. I knew I was going to be a long way away, and that was the decision I made, so I sort of had to get over it pretty quick. You can’t really sit there and dwell on it.”

Back home, he attended the local uni­versity for several months, and so entering the small Hillsdale com­munity was quite a change.

“I had seven to eight months to do some­thing, so I went to uni­versity at home, to a 60,000 person uni­versity,” Purslowe said. “So then coming to Hillsdale it was like I actually saw the same person twice in a week.”

Along with a much smaller com­munity, Purslowe had to make other small adjust­ments to American life: driving on the wrong side of the road and to the cold Michigan weather.

“Being on the wrong side of the road also doesn’t help…the weather. That was a bit of a dif­ferent one. I mean it’s a good 100-degree dif­ference at times,” Purslowe said. “Where I’m from it’s probably similar to southern Cal­i­fornia,” Purslowe said, “So middle of summer it’s 110 – 115 and then you come here and in the winter it’s like 10 [degrees].”

But Purslowe actually liked adjusting to some of the extreme dif­fer­ences between Michigan and Aus­tralia.

“If I’m going to come and do the expe­rience four years away from home I may as well make it the com­plete opposite, in terms of weather at least,” Purslowe said.  

And overall Purslowe loves the feel of Hillsdale and com­munity here.

“I just like the main concept of being a small school and you know people’s names and things like that, and it’s just nice,” he said. “To be honest it’s a homely feel. That’s one of the best things about it, I think.”