From Frankfurt to Weatherford to Tulsa, Weck becomes invested in Oklahoma
By Ken MacLeod
A look at the rosters of many of the Division II and NAIA golf teams in Oklahoma, not to mention Division I power Oklahoma State, shows a wealth of gifted golfers who have come from around the world to improve their games and gain an education in Oklahoma towns large, medium and “charming.”
We have long celebrated the rise of home grown players filling the rosters of collegiate program here and across the U.S. It’s time to celebrate the contributions to the game, state and fabric of Oklahoma life made by those who take a leap of faith by leaving, say Frankfurt, Germany for Weatherford, Oklahoma, sight unseen.
“You look at our roster or a lot of the rosters in Division II and it’s either a local or international player,” said Southwestern Oklahoma State coach Brad Fleetwood. “With our recruiting budget, my players are from right around here or they are international. “
A look at the current roster bears that out. Fleetwood has players from Mexico (2), Denmark, Germany (2), Scotland and Poland, as well as Randlett, Choctaw and Elk City.
Gregor Weck grew up just outside of Frankfurt, where he had never heard of Weatherford or SWOSU. But an agency service that helps place European players with U.S. universities put him in touch with Fleetwood, who convinced him to turn down offers from Bowling Green among others and become one of the 12,000 or so residents of Weatherford, nearly 4,000 of whom are fellow students at SWOSU.
“I really liked Brad on the phone, he was very compelling,” Weck says today. “Plus it was the best offer. Once I got here it wasn’t necessarily what I pictured of American college life. I had never seen tumbleweed or cows on a golf course. It’s a small town with its strengths and weaknesses. But it’s very charming once you settle down and find the people you want to spend time with.”
Weck completed his collegiate eligibility last May. While under Fleetwood’s tutelage he blossomed from a temperamental individual with a mercurial game to what Fleetwood calls “the most consistent player we’ve ever had.”
“He came here as a good player, but so much different from the person he is today,” Fleetwood said. “I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a player mature in the way that this guy has, on the course and in his personal life. It’s been amazing to watch his development and he’s going to be successful in whatever he does.”
Weck’s game matured to the point that by his senior season he finished second twice, outside the top 20 only twice and he was named both the SWOSU Male Athlete of the Year and Scholar Athlete of the Year while making the Cleveland Golf/Srixon All-American Scholar team for the third time.
Good enough to consider turning professional, but perhaps also wise enough not to. Weck, who was originally a psychology major but became fascinated with finance as he went along, led the charge to found a student investment club at SWOSU that before he left was charged with making recommendations on investments for $100,000 set aside by the SWOSU Foundation.
His grades and success with the investment club led to a summer internship working for Atento Capital, an early stage venture capital company focused on job growth in Tulsa and funded by the George Kaiser Family Foundation. His entrepreneurship in founding the investment club helped lead to the post, and he is still there today, though in a year his student visa will expire and tough decisions will have to be made.
At Weatherford, the team was fortunate to have an on-campus indoor practice facility and range provided by Everett Dobson, who attended school there and is now the owner of Oak Tree National and founder of the Oklahoma Golf Hall of Fame, among many other ventures. The team also has an open invitation at Prairie West Golf Course, which both Weck and Fleetwood said has made dramatic improvement in the past five years.
“It’s really come a long way,” Fleetwood said. “They spent about $1 million and now it’s got a really nice clubhouse. The greens I would put up against about any in the state. And they built some new tees and really lengthened it for the college players which has helped tremendously.”
“It’s a lot better than when I got here,” Weck agreed. “It’s unreal how good the greens are now.”
Weck now plays with friends around Tulsa and is hoping to one day be able to challenge Southern Hills while here. He loves golf and thought that might go away if he turned professional.
“I genuinely love golf and was scared that having to play for a paycheck, I would lose that relationship to the game and to the sport and become more obsessed with it but in a bad way,” Weck said. “You’ve got to be 100 percent committed and no do anything on the side or you won’t make it. I didn’t want to feel that if I was going to eat next week I had to finish in the top 20 this week.”
Instead he is thrilled with what he is doing to help launch small businesses in Tulsa. And to he and all the other international players who have made Oklahoma their home whether temporarily or permanently, the welcome mat is out.