Tiffany Arafi

Tiffany, you have been studying at the Coastal Carolina University in the USA since 2018 and you are living the college golf experience. Let's first look back at your golf career: How did your career develop and what were your greatest achievements?

I have spent most of my golf career in Switzerland. I won two Swiss amateur titles in 2015 and 2016 and was voted junior player of the year 2016. Due to my results I was selected several times for the European Championships and was also able to participate in several professional tournaments. My career had taken another step forward when I moved to America. In my opinion, a new opportunity opened up for me to pursue my dream of becoming a professional player. In the last two seasons I was the best player in my team and reached 8th place in the Sunbelt Conference. Since playing for Coastal Carolina, I have achieved two top 10 and five top 20 finishes. 

Tell us about your college golf experience so far. How did you end up at Coastal Carolina University? How are you enjoying life in the state of South Carolina?

I attended Montverde High School in Florida for one year and graduated from high school there. Besides attending classes, I participated in an intensive golf program at the Gary Gilchrist Academy. Due to my good results at junior tournaments in the USA I was contacted by several universities. Finally I decided to play for the team of Coastal Carolina, which offered me a full scholarship. I have been at the university since 2018 and study sport & recreation management. I still have 1 1/2 years to go until I get my Bachelor degree. Life in South Carolina is very nice and the weather is perfect for playing golf. I live in the town of Myrtle Beach, which is known as the golf capital of the world because of the large number of golf courses.  

How does life in South Carolina differ from life in Switzerland? What has impressed you most since you started studying there?

 Life in South Carolina is in many aspects different than here in Switzerland. For example, the food is very different from Swiss traditions. There is a lot of meat, which is often fried, and in the beginning it was not easy to find fresh vegetables and fruits. What impressed me most, however, is the interaction between sport and school. As an athlete you are put in the spotlight by the school and admired by your fellow students. The athletes enjoy many advantages, such as private cafeterias or flexible exam dates. 

What are your impressions so far of the strength of the players in college? Did you already have a clear picture in mind of the athletic level before you started? 

I already had a good idea of the level of the players in college and it was definitely confirmed. The level is very high and the best female golf players from Europe have now moved to America to study and play golf at the same time. This was also one of the main reasons why I moved to America. I wanted to train at a high level and play recognized tournaments. It is undoubtedly the best way to prepare for a professional golf career and get a place on the LPGA (Ladies Professional Golf Association).

How do you have to imagine your everyday life as a college golf athlete in the USA? How do you successfully combine sport and study?

A day in the life of a college golf athlete is certainly not easy. But the stress of everyday life is also one reason why so many female athletes start a professional career after graduating from college. I train from Monday to Saturday and during the week I combine my training with classes at the university. We have fitness training 4 times a week in the early morning hours with a focus on weight training and cardio. Afterwards I go to the university for 3 to 4 hours of classes before another 3 hours of golf with my team in the afternoon. After dinner I do my homework and prepare for the upcoming exams. 

What were your reasons for choosing college golf? Why did you initially start your journey to the USA? 

 I wanted to have all the opportunities on my side so that one day I could play golf at a professional level. In order to play with the best athletes, I had to move to America. In Switzerland it was too complicated to combine golf and school because I was travelling too much. In America we have a great coaching staff that takes care of us in a very professional way. Overall, we have a golf coach, two fitness coaches, a physiotherapist and a sports psychologist.

College golf is often referred to as the talent factory for young golf talents and aspiring professionals. Have you also looked into the subject of professional sport? How does the College Coach prepare you for a possible professional career after graduation?

At the moment there are seven players on the team and we all come from different countries with different goals. Our coach helps all the players individually, so that each one can achieve her own goals. Not all the players in my team want to become golf pros one day. My coach motivates me and sets very high goals to prepare me for my dream of becoming a professional. I receive a detailed analysis from the coach after every tournament so that I can improve in the future.

If you could give future college golf athletes from Switzerland a recommendation, what would it be?

It is important to have the courage to go to America. It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. If someone doesn't like it, it's easy to come back. College sport is in my opinion the best plan to continue to practice sport at a high level and get a university degree at the same time.

Tiffany, we thank you very much for the exciting interview. We wish you as much success as possible and hope that you will be able to start the fall semester 2020 as planned.