Icelandic freshman becoming a team leader

by Brad Bobel

From the bitter cold of Iceland to frigid Minnesota, the college transition weather-wise hasn’t been challenging for freshman Rúnar Arnórsson.
He experienced some difficulties early in the school year but has stepped up his game recently, turning himself into one of Minnesota’s top golfers. 
“From the fall season, he has shown big improvements, both in how comfortable he is on the course and the maturity he shows as well,” head coach John Carlson said.
For most freshmen, maturity may take time to develop. But Arnórsson, 22, has had more time to develop than the typical freshman.
“It makes our job a little bit easier. He’s someone the guys can look up to,” Carlson said. “He knows how to get off the plane and play well.”
Arnórsson is no stranger to being older than his peers, and he uses his experiences to help others.
“I was the oldest one on the team back home in Iceland, just like here,” Arnórsson said. “I’ve had my fair share of hard times, but I’m pretty honest and open and glad to help others.”
One of those hard times was adjusting to the American way of life and getting accustomed to U.S. collegiate golf.
“I had to adjust my game for the states and college golf,” Arnórsson said. “It took a little time to adjust, like getting to know new things like larger courses and greens.”
But before he even played for the Gophers, there were some physical aspects of his game he needed to change.
“His equipment coming in was poor, so we changed that up, and we also changed his golf swing,” Carlson said. “It was a lot of technical stuff, as his mental game was there. He really bought into the coaching staff’s style.”
In the first three tournaments of the fall season, Arnórsson struggled to post consistent low scores. But in the final fall tournament, he bounced back and finished second on the team, which he said gave him a lot of confidence going into the spring.
After a poor tournament outing in Puerto Rico in late February, Arnórsson turned his game around and finished in the top two spots for Minnesota in their last two tournaments.
“I struggled in Puerto Rico for many reasons, but I make no excuses,” Arnórsson said. “I was going through some tough times, but I got my things together. Since spring break, I have been more comfortable and improving.”
His attitude and how he attacks practice have led to his recent success on the course.
“He’s a calm and confident guy,” Carlson said. “His consistency is had by his preparation, and that preparation leads to predictable performances.”
His demeanor has not only helped the team on the course during competitions but off the course as well.
“I don’t get that heated, and I set good examples [for the younger guys],” Arnórsson said. “I am more structured than [a typical] 18-year-old freshman, as I bring more experience to the team.”
With his world traveling experience and cool demeanor, Arnórsson has become the glue that brings the Gophers together.
“His greatest quality is that he really relates to everybody,” Carlson said. “This might be the tightest team at the University.”