It’s widely known that many kids leave home at the age of 18 or 19 to attend college. However, it’s truly rare that a teenager would travel nearly 8,000 miles to get their degree.
Marc MacDonald, a redshirt freshman on the golf team, is one of those teenagers.
MacDonald spent the first 19 years of his life in Harare, Zimbabwe before deciding to enroll at Virginia Tech.
“I lived in Harare for a long time before I ever set foot in America,” MacDonald said. “So the difference between living in a third world country to coming to Blacksburg was huge.”
In Zimbabwe, MacDonald quickly became one of the nation’s premier golfers, winning the 2008 Zimbabwe National Amateur Championship and representing his nation in a variety of other international events.
“Marc has less than four years experience at playing golf,” said Jay Hardwick, head coach. “And yet he competed in both the Junior Orange Bowl International Golf Championship in 2008 and the World Amateur Team Championship just last year.”
The decision to travel so far away from home to play golf was a difficult one, but MacDonald credits his brother Nick for helping him make the choice.
“I had offers from other schools, but my brother was a four-year player at (Tech),” MacDonald said. “And it felt like there was a pipeline from here to back home, which really shaped my decision.”
MacDonald’s brother accompanied him on his initial visit to Tech’s campus, and coaches immediately noticed their closeness.
“When Marc was on his visit here, we saw him and Nick talking, and we could barely tell them apart,” said Brian Sharp, assistant coach. “Nick still lives in America as a professional golfer, and he really helped (Marc) learn the ropes around here.”
The coaches and MacDonald agreed that to help make such a big adjustment to living here, he should sit out his freshman year. He said he believes it paid dividends.
“The redshirt year was a really good idea. It really helped me get used to being in America,” MacDonald said. “The U.S. is such a consumer economy, which is so different from home, and the year off helped me deal with that.”
The coaching staff said redshirting MacDonald has also helped his golf game.
“Marc is really eager to learn and get better,” Hardwick said. “He’s the type of guy that we haven’t had to encourage to practice, and although he can get in his own way sometimes, he’s probably our most improved player.”
However, the year off hasn’t been without its challenges.
“It’s hard sometimes to practice when you’re not working toward a competition,” MacDonald said.
Despite the setbacks, coaches are confident MacDonald will soon be a major contributor to the team.