Callum MacAulay went to the University of Mississippi in 2004, on a golf scholarship he secured through FirstPoint USA. Callum went on to win the Scottish Amateur title at Carnoustie, the St Andrews Trophy, and the Eisenhower Trophy, before he set his sights on The European Tour Qualifying School. This week we caught up with Callum, to discuss his time in the USA, what it's like being in the European Tour, and his hopes for the future:
1. Hi Callum, can you tell us a bit about your sporting background pre-scholarship?
Prior to gaining a scholarship at Ole Miss, I was a capable golfer, and played off a handicap of 4. Many aspects of my game required attention, and I knew if I was to become good enough to be a professional, I would have to work hard.
2. How did you hear about FirstPoint USA and what made you want to go down that route vs staying in the UK and becoming a club pro?
I heard about FirstPoint through my parents. I had no idea such a helpful service was at hand, and it was a major help in trying to gain a scholarship. I have never, and never will want to sit in a shop and sell Mars Bars all my life, I wanted to be out and about and explore the world through golf, which is what I've been lucky enough to do.
3. Can you tell us a bit about your achievements during your 4 years at the University of Mississippi?
Throughout my 5 years at Ole Miss, I achieved All-SEC honors, as well as turning my handicap from 4, to +3 throughout the 5 summers I was home.
4. Did you notice any difference, or was it hard to adjust to the American education system?
I felt my freshman English and Math (algebra) classes were quite easy, and I had covered most of it in my Higher/A-levels in high school. The rest though were new to me.
5. What were the facilities like at Mississippi?
When I first arrived at Ole Miss, the facilities were OK, and the weather was really good. We had two different putting greens, a driving range, and a mediocre course, however we were able to get access to local, better, courses. After my sophomore year, a new coach was introduced who changed the facilities and is now one of the strongest recruiting tools in the SEC.
6. What was your training schedule like at university?
Training was very intense, but not too frequent. As there is a 20 hour rule for practice per week in college athletics, we had two one-hour sessions a week, Tuesday and Thursday. And it was, of course, golf specific.
7. Was it difficult to manage your time between studying, athletics and your social life?
Personally I found it tough to balance my time. I made sure I enjoyed myself socially, and put more work into my golf than my studies, but you learn quick that if you start falling behind in class, the coaches are quick to jump on you (not literally!)
8. What was the highlight of your time in the USA?
The highlight for me were the friends that I made, and I still keep in touch with a few. I still visit them, and regularly return to see them at Ole Miss, as well as spending time using the schools facilities. Such as the gym, practice facilities and the course.
9. What advice do you have for anyone considering a golf scholarship to the USA?
The only advice I would give is don't doubt what your doing. It is by far the best decision I have ever made. It is valuable in every aspect of life. Learning how to live alone, time management, life skills such as discipline, cooking, ironing etc. skills that will lead you forward in life.
10. How did you progress from your scholarship to a professional on the European Tour?
I played a year more of amateur golf after I graduated, and using the confidence I had gained throughout university, I played well, represented my country, continent, and got to +5 handicap, before winning the World Amateur with Scotland, then got my card in 2008 at Tour School as an amateur.
11. What is it like being in the European Tour (schedule, tournaments, traveling etc)
It is a very hard, but can be a rewarding life on tour. Traveling is very repetitive, in airports and hotels all week, every week. But playing against the best in the world is as good as it gets.
12. What are your hope for the next few years?
My hopes for the next few years are to enjoy life; visit Ole Miss a few times more, and hopefully encourage any one else to head to the USA to expand their opportunities.
We would like to thank Callum for taking the time to answer our questions.
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