By Emily Orthwein
Big 12 Campus Correspondent
Have you ever been homesick? Have you ever just gone home for a long weekend and not thought anything of it? Try living 5,000 miles away, where your home and family are not so easily accessible.
Alexandra Bonetti, a sophomore accounting major and TCU women’s golf player, is from Paris, France, and only gets to go home for Christmas break and some of summer. Being far away from home has been a major transition to play golf at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth.
“First semester my freshman year was really tough being far away from home,” Bonetti said. “But this semester has been a lot better.”
After visiting Texas for the first time, the thought of attending college so far away from home felt right, Bonetti said.
“When I came to visit I saw the facilities, and they were beautiful,” Bonetti said. “I met the coaching staff and really liked them. Also, TCU’s Neeley School of Business is one of the top business schools in the nation and I wanted to study accounting.”
Knowing TCU men’s golfer, Julien Brun, also being from Paris, helped to smooth Bonetti’s transition to Fort Worth. In turn, her decision to play for TCU brought Brun to campus.
“I’ve known Julien for almost eight years now,” Bonetti said. “I committed before him, and then I told him how great the coaching, facilities and campus were because he could not visit. Then he committed as well.”
Both TCU’s men’s and women’s golf teams, are as culturally diverse than any other athletic team at TCU. Despite those differences, Bonetti said the women’s team is especially close.
“All of my teammates are like sisters to me,” Bonetti said. “During meetings, the coaches say that they’ve never had a team that was this close that can mesh very well together. We work really hard and all of us are very supportive of each other.”
Along with many other traditions such as dressing up in costume while flying to tournaments over Halloween weekend, every golfer on the women’s team has a nickname. Bonetti’s is Kool-Aid, but she said the name is not related to the drink.
“During my freshman year, I was going to hit a shot 75 to 80 percent, and I told my coach that I was going to hit a ‘cool’ shot. But my not knowing English very well, I used the word ‘cool’ out of context. In French it means not a 100 percent shot.”
Bonetti said she has also adjusted to southern hospitality in Texas. The different but welcoming culture has made the transition to Texas even smoother.
“The people are very welcoming compared to France for sure,” Bonetti said. “I would see people that I didn’t know and they would just say ‘Hello’ to me, which is very different from where I come from. It made me feel very welcome in America.”
Bonetti has been playing golf since she was 7 years old, and she said she finds inspiration in her parents, who are also very good golfers. Before she found her love for golf, she competed in tennis and judo.
Bonetti said she models herself after professionals such as Tiger Woods, an American golfer, and Rafael Nadal, a tennis player from Spain, because of the way they fight for every shot.
Bonetti takes what she learns from her role models and her coaches and puts those lessons into action. She said her focus is more on mentality of the game and not the technical aspects, which is different from her coaching back in Paris.
“Fight for every shot and do not let your emotions affect your game,” Bonetti said. “If you have a bad shot, just recover and concentrate on the next one.”
Some of the best advice she said she has learned in America is to spend 90 percent of practice time playing short game, like chipping and putting. This has brought her game to a new level, along with working with, Mike Wright, director of golf at Shady Oaks Country Club.
“I am so happy that I met him,” Bonetti said. “Last year, I met other golfing instructors, but between Europe and the U.S., we don’t necessarily have the same philosophy of the swing, so it didn’t really match my style of playing at first. Mike is a really great player and he’s made me into the player I am today.”
Bonetti said this season has been her best at TCU and that competing is her favorite part about the game.
In six spring tournaments, Bonetti has five top 20 finishes, including three top ten results. She also has a career low 75.4 stroke average for the season.
Bonetti said her favorite memory of golf is playing for the French team for the 2010 World Championship.
Bonetti was not ranked within the top three in France in 2010, so she wasn’t sure she would have been able to play. But after a great season, she passed Valentine Derrey, another TCU women’s golf player from Paris, to compete in the World Championship.
By the first round, Bonetti was leading the tournament shooting five under par. Bonetti finished 13th individually helping France place third overall.
“Getting the bronze medal was probably my best memory,” Bonetti said.
Bonetti’s good memories are far from over, seeing that she has excelled season after season.
"Alex is such a special student-athlete and golfer,” TCU head coach Angie Ravaioli-Larkin said. “She is a fighter and true competitor who works harder than anyone I have ever coached. Watch for Alex to do great things in the near future.”
Bonetti has two more years left of her career at TCU. After graduation, Bonetti said she hopes to go back to France and play on the European tour before qualifying for the LPGA.
Whether excelling overseas or in the states, Alexandra Bonetti is a Horned Frog to watch during her final two seasons at TCU.