Five weeks ago I flew out to George, on the Western Cape of South Africa to start my professional career and now I’m sitting waiting to board my flight home. I can’t help but reflect upon my time out here. Having never been to South Africa I wasn’t sure what to expect but I’ve had a great time. The trip has been full of new experiences from hitting my first shot as a pro; playing in my first pro am; playing 5 weeks in a row; playing in my first LET event and being chased by a baboon at Cape Point. The latter being the most nerve-wrecking out of all these experiences!
I’ve played 5 events on the Sunshine Ladies Tour, with some satisfying results. My first event was the Dimension Data Ladies Pro-Am and I could not have picked a better place to start my career. The courses at George and Fancourt were stunning and the hospitality was first class… with a daily selection of cake and ice cream in the players lounge! However, I wasn’t too distracted by the hospitality and I managed to get myself in contention after shooting 68 in round 2. It was such a buzz to have a chance at winning in only my first event as a pro and although I finished in a tie for 6th I was really pleased with this result. More so, as this was my 1st competitive event since early November and also since my mum passed away. I was a little emotional, knowing how much my mum would have loved to have seen me do well, and I guess I missed having my family around to support and celebrate.
Next up was Durban, to play in the SA Women’s Masters and the SuperSport Ladies Challenge. If I was on a high from the Di Data I was quickly brought back down to earth when we arrived at our digs! Life on tour really isn’t glamorous! After surviving a night with bed bugs we managed to find a new place to stay on site at San Lameer and we lucked out with a fab host family! Despite struggling a little with my game that week, I finished in 14th place and another cut made.
It was a tight turnaround as we then went straight into the practice round and Pro Am at Wild Coast Sun. The course really is wild! It covers some amount of land up on a cliff top and is on the edge of a wildlife reserve. It’s really exposed to the wind and we were all warned of high winds forecast. Fortunately it wasn’t quite like a windy day at Craigielaw and I seemed to cope with the trickier conditions that we had in round 2. I played some great golf that week, and finished outright 3rd. Again it was exciting to be in contention and I felt like maybe it could be my week when I teed off in the final round. However, I didn’t take advantage of my good approach play on the front 9 and my short putting let me down.
My final stop of the tour was Cape Town for two more events. After playing 3 events in a row, I was ready for a few days off! Luckily we had time to relax and do some site seeing which is actually quite rare on most of my golf trips. Cape Town really is incredible with the striking Table Mountain and scenic coastline. I know how lucky I am to visit such amazing places like Cape Town. After a few days off I felt mentally refreshed and raring to go again at Royal Cape GC. It wasn’t my best golf week but I am proud how I grinded it out after a poor opening round. In some very typical Scottish weather, I managed to move up each day and finished tied 13th in the end.
It was then onto Westlake for the Investec South African Women’s Open which was a co-sanctioned LET event. This event had the highest purse and so I was eager to have a good week! As it would happen, I was probably too eager! Although, after hitting two great shots on my opening hole and sinking the putt for birdie, I actually felt right at home in my first LET event. Unfortunately, after a shocker of a bunker lie on my 9th hole my golf started to slip and I let my mistakes get to me more than I normally do, thinking I had played my way out of the tournament. This was my biggest lesson learned of the trip – never think it’s over- as had I saved a few shots in my last few holes I would have been around the cut mark with a lot less to do in round 2. To be honest, I actually felt a little embarrassed with my score and also disappointed with myself and my attitude on the golf course. I needed the afternoon off to clear my head and the views along Chapman’s Drive and Hout Bay definitely helped distract me.
By the next day I was ready to give it my best shot at making it to the weekend, and I got off to a good start with 2 birdies in the first 4 holes. However, a double bogey on the 14th hole proved costly and I ended up missing the cut by 1. I was gutted, it was the first cut I’d missed on the trip and missing it by 1 is a tough one to take. However, I was happy with the way I had played in round 2 and how I had recovered from the double bogey, playing the last 4 holes in 1 under. They say you learn more from your mistakes than your wins and that has probably been the case on this trip!
Overall, It’s been a fun few weeks out here and a great start to my pro career. There’s nothing quite like playing competitive golf and to have that week after week has been such a good experience for me. I’m now looking forward to going home and spending time with my family and sleeping in my own bed! It will also be good to get some practice in before my season starts in Europe on the LET Access Series. Let the adventures continue!