Q&A with Fraser Owenson, CGGI Class of 2018

March 6, 2024

Fraser Owenson’s first time coming to the United States was for the 2018 Congaree Global Golf Initiative, an experience that kickstarted his journey to collegiate golf and ultimately a career in finance.

The lessons he learned during his week at Congaree – both in the classroom and on the course – remained with him throughout college. Having grown up in Scotland, Fraser was not familiar with the American college system but leaned on the support of the CGGI staff and coaches during every step of the process. He went on to complete a successful collegiate golf career at California State University, East Bay and earned a degree in finance in May 2023.

We recently sat down with Fraser to learn more about his college recruitment process, what the transition was like from Scotland to California and how CGGI helped him establish a career in investment banking.

Q: How did you first learn about CGGI?

A: My golf coach in Scotland was one of the original coaching Ambassadors who nominated students for the first year of the program in 2017, so I learned about it from him. He nominated me for the program the following year.

Q: What did it mean to you to receive an invitation to the program?

A: It was very special to me knowing the number of students that were considered. At first, I was most excited simply for the golf and for the opportunity to meet everyone involved with Congaree, but after I arrived, I was able to truly recognize and appreciate all the help and guidance the program provided.

Q: Can you share what your CGGI experience was like? What were some of your favorite moments?

A: CGGI was an eye-opening experience. It was one of the busiest weeks I’ve ever had, and we were able to pack a lot into just a few days. I really enjoyed how all-encompassing the experience was.

It was cool to be around the CGGI staff and Congaree Ambassadors who were just as interested in helping you as you were in learning, whether it was with academics or golf. Even having never met most of the people there before, we all became close and stayed in touch after. There is a great sense of community at CGGI, so that’s one thing I remember and appreciate most to this day.

The 2018 Congaree Global Golf Initiative Class is pictured.

Q: What were some of the biggest takeaways you gained from the experience?

A: I think what was most helpful for me was learning about what college would really be like. The staff was very realistic in explaining how to balance playing golf with your studies – you might be traveling to a cool place to play a tournament, but you’ll also have to be doing homework on the way there.

Whether it was the golf professionals or Congaree mentors that came, it was great to hear from people that had good first-hand experiences and examples to share with you. I found it really helpful because we weren’t just given the information but were shown how to actually apply it.

Q: Were there any challenges or obstacles that you faced in academics or golf that your experience at CGGI helped you overcome?

A: Golf is very different in the U.S. compared to back home in Scotland, so the experience at CGGI helped me better assimilate when I came to America for college. I definitely gained some nuggets of wisdom from the CGGI coaches that I used in some of my tournaments, whether it was understanding the different types of grasses or different swing techniques to utilize.

Q: How did CGGI help prepare you for life after high school, both in your collegiate golf career and professional aspirations?

A: I decided in my junior year of college that I wanted to pursue a professional path rather than a career in golf, and the CGGI staff was very helpful in connecting me with some of the Ambassadors that were in my chosen field. I was able to go to them whenever I had questions about job applications or the finance industry, and they were always more than willing to help.

Q: What led you to ultimately choosing California State University, East Bay? What was it like coming from Scotland to California for college?

A: Being from Scotland, I was just excited to go to college in the United States. I knew that I wanted to go somewhere that had a good golf team I could actively compete on, but also one that had the academics to back it up. By the time I settled in at California State University, East Bay, I was happy to be at a place where the area was really lively, the academics were solid and offered a lot of opportunities for golf.

CGGI was the first time I went to the United States, and my first time visiting the West Coast was a week before I started school. Coming from a small town in Scotland with only a couple thousand people and moving just outside of San Francisco was quite a big jump – there are more people in the Bay Area than there is in all of Scotland. It took some time to get used to, but I really enjoyed it.

Q: What were some of the major milestones you’re most proud of during your collegiate golfing career?

A: I earned the All-American Scholar Award my sophomore, junior and senior years, and was quite keen to get it because it reflected both my golf and academic accomplishments. I also was the captain of our team my senior year, which I was very proud of because I was nominated for it by my team’s coaching staff.

Q: What led you to pursue a career in investment banking?

A: I’m naturally a numbers person so I knew I wanted to major in finance. I also took part in some extracurricular programs on the subject which were helpful in dialing in on exactly what I wanted to do.

Q: How has the transition been from college into a professional career since your graduation last May?

A: It was a bit of a change adapting to a new way of life where I’m not playing golf for half of the day and am now working full-time, but it has turned out great and I’m really happy in my new role. I’m still able to enjoy playing golf as a hobby, and I appreciate it even more now since I’m not able to play as regularly as I used to.


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