No one told Patricie Mackova she could be recruited for college golf. The two-time First Team All-Big Ten Czech golfer only learned about the opportunity when her friend signed with the University of Texas at Austin, opening her to the world of college athletics.

Mackova, now a senior and the Terps’ most talented golfer, hopes to bring the program to national relevancy. That wasn’t always the plan.

Mackova grew up more than 4,000 miles away in Prague, Czech Republic, playing tennis and struggling immensely with the game. As she searched for a new sport, her grandfather, Veroslav, took her to a nearby golf course.

Mackova recalled practicing with coaches from the local academy and playing short competitions against her grandfather, where the winner would be crowned “world champion.”

She eventually started playing for youth golf organization U.S. Kids Golf and qualified for European championships, making it to South Carolina for the World Championships by the time she was 11. As her skills developed, so did her investment in the sport.

“It was a big deal for me,” Mackova said. “Because I was getting better and better, I feel like I was more and more into it.”

She then participated in U18 European team championship events, where coaches from the United States often scouted overseas talent. It was there that Mackova’s friend and recent Longhorns commit Sára Kouskova told her about the potential to play golf in college.

Mackova soon got in contact with then-Terps coach Diana Cantú, who offered her a full-ride scholarship to Maryland.

“She had a ton of potential,” said current coach Kelly Hovland, who was an assistant coach under Cantú from 2019-21. “Just physically as a 16, 17-year-old kid, [she] had a lot of the attributes we’re looking for in terms of long hitter, great iron player, but we knew she had to develop.”

Mackova had to make her decision without visiting Maryland’s campus while also considering offers from schools like Oklahoma State and Kent State. She ultimately chose the Terps in June 2019 and made her first visit to College Park that September, touring the facilities and meeting coaches and advisors.

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It was a smooth transition, Mackova said. Even though her English was weaker back then, she said she quickly fit in and befriended her teammates, who never said anything negative about her accent or status as an international student.

When the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the fall season of her freshman campaign, Mackova and her teammates further bonded while quarantined.

“We got very close [in] the first year because we were living together right away,” graduate student and golfer Maria Vittoria Corbi said. “It was definitely a hard semester with all the rules and restrictions so we definitely helped each other out.”

Mackova had the option to redshirt the spring season and gain an extra year of eligibility, but declined the offer, opting instead to play that year with faith that the Terps would reach nationals. She appeared in four events that season and finished the year with a scoring average of 74, the fourth-best on the team as Maryland finished 21st of 24 teams in the NCAA Championship.

As a sophomore, Mackova placed second among the Terps at the Big Ten Championship with a score of 215 and earned an individual bid to the NCAA Regionals, where she placed 25th overall with a score of 222. Mackova finished the season with a team-best 72.5 average score through 36 rounds, the fourth-best mark in Maryland history.

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She got even better as a junior, notching the best average score in school history and finishing as the No. 29 player in the country. Hovland credits Mackova’s success to honing in on her wedge game and refining her mentality.

“We’ve really been able to attack her wedge game in a lot of different technical ways and strategic ways that have given her just a ton of opportunities on par fives and made her one of the best,” she said.

Mackova said she also started seeing herself as one of the best players in the country, or even one of the best players in the world.

Despite the heights she’s reached, Mackova still feels the urge for more. She remains dissatisfied with the end of last season where the Terps missed the cutoff to Nationals by three shots. Mackova partially blamed herself for the result as she shot nine over par.

She hopes to get another shot this year, the last chapter in a ride that’s seen her develop in the sport she loves and create a home for herself in College Park.

“College golf is so fun. You get to travel with your friends, everything is fun about it and it’s not like this when I play back home,” Mackova said. “I think we can make it to nationals so easily … I’m excited about this year and I hope I will end my career in Maryland [on] a good note.”