From Paris with Golf: Men’s golfer shares journey to United States

Timothy Briones

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“Anxious.” That was what a then 15-year-old Eliott Azoulay was feeling when he traveled to Orlando, Florida from Paris, France.  

In August of 2009, the Frenchman moved to the United States to pursue golf and attend the Gary Gilchrist Golf Academy, which is known for training some of the best junior golfers in the world.

This was Azoulay’s second time traveling to the U.S., but this time he would settle here without his parents. Azoulay brought himself, his sticks and the limited English he’d learned from his bilingual elementary school. He wasn’t nervous, but rather excited for what awaited him in Orlando.

Azoulay first picked up a golf club at the age of four after watching his dad closely from a golf cart at the Bussy-guermantes Golf Club, where Azoulay learned to play the game. His parents would drive him a half hour to the course on weekends because there are no golf courses in Paris.

Azoulay started competing in tournaments at seven years-old and knew he liked golf, but didn’t know he wanted to play professionally until he was 15.

During his four years in Gary Gilchrist Golf Academy, Azoulay won three junior tournaments and earned more top-five finishes than anyone else. He received Div. I offers from the University of North Florida and University of Central Florida.

However, Azoulay says his best college offer came from Stetson University, also in Florida.Though Azoulay enjoyed being in a college setting, he says it didn’t come without the pressure of being the only international golfer on the team.

After three semesters and no real improvement, Azoulay said, “I wasn’t getting any better physically or technically.”

This prompted his transfer out of Stetson after two years in May 2015. He had met his girlfriend Isabel Morales at Gilchrist, and she went on to play golf for St. Edward’s.

Azoulay then talked to SEU Women’s Golf Coach Jennifer McNeil about the golf program at St. Edward’s.

“She saw I was serious about [transferring] and put in the good word for me. I really thank her for that.”

The timing was in Azoulay’s favor as SEU Men’s Golf Coach Todd Ohlmeyer needed to replace four graduating seniors in 2015.

“He took me without even seeing me play,” Azoulay said.

Azoulay won the second event he played in representing St. Edward’s at the Ryan Palmer Invitational in Amarillo in September 2016.

“While I felt like it was a risk,” Ohlmeyer said of recruiting Azoulay without meeting him, “I felt pretty confident in it, and it’s turned out very well for us.”

Going forward, the senior business administration major will serve as an assistant coach on the SEU golf team for his final semester before his graduation in December.

He then plans to return home to Paris after eight and a half years to pursue golf professionally.

“I’m planning on turning pro December 2018,” says Azoulay, who will play in amateur events before trying to qualify for the European Tour by way of the European Challenge Tour.

When asked why he loves to play golf, Azoulay says, “because it’s unpredictable.”