Smail follows his dad’s trail
Their style of play differs, but their professional home may be the same.
Newly-crowned national men’s amateur golf champion Charlie Smail is eyeing the same country where father David has made a lucrative career, as the
20-year-old ponders his future. ‘‘In the end I’d like to do the same as what dad’s done and play in Japan,’’ Smail said days after his impressive title win at Wairakei.
The Waikato amateur beat NZ representative
5 and 4 in the
36-hole matchplay final but while he has his sights on a professional career, he’s not in a hurry.
‘‘Maybe in the next few years,’’ said the long-hitter.
Smail senior has won over NZ$12 million in his career, chiefly on the Japan Tour, with his strength being his accuracy off the tee and with his irons.
Dad admits that Charlie outhits him.
‘‘He’s good, he’s solid – he plays a different game to me. He hits it longer, maybe with a little less control than me sometimes,’’ he smiled.
But at the NZ amateur champs, with mother Sheree – a former NZ amateur star – caddying, Charlie altered his game to suit the conditions.
‘‘We get to play Wairakei quite a bit and are usually hitting drivers everywhere but we talked a little about playing more conservatively, keeping it in play and putting the pressure on the other guy in a matchplay situation,’’ David said.
‘‘It was so tricky – the conditions were quite windy, real gusty, the wind was always changing direction and we were just talking about how difficult that was,’’ Sheree added.
‘‘His short game was just amazing, got up and down from everywhere, putted unreal and his long game was good too. We were hardly ever looking for golf balls. Occasionally we are, this week we weren’t.’’
Given his family, it seems no surprise that Charlie has emerged as a top young golfer – but that didn’t seem likely early.
‘‘I never really took much notice of golf until I was 10, 11 years old and then I still didn’t play for a few years,’’ Charlie said. ‘‘I liked watching dad play as a kid but never really picked up a club myself.
‘‘To start with, we weren’t keen at all really for him to play golf,’’ Sheree said.
‘‘We used to have a place out at Raglan and he’d go and play nine holes when my mum and dad went for a wander around there with him. Eventually we played twilights at Walton and it went from there.
‘‘Once he started getting the bug for it we went ‘rightyho, we have to start backing him all the way now’. Like anyone, he still has his moments when he says he hates golf and wants to give up.’’
Coached by Reon Sayer, Charlie will next contest the national interprovincial champs with Waikato and play a couple of big amateur tournaments in Australia over summer.
‘‘He’s certainly done a lot more than I ever did at his age,’’ David said. ‘‘He’d like to represent NZ, that may be the next thing on the agenda.’’
After a couple of quiet years that has allowed him to watch and caddy for Charlie more often, David, 48, heads off to Japan this weekend for tour school. ‘‘I want to play a full year next year if I can before the Senior Tour comes around so I can ease into that.
‘‘Japan has a good [Senior] tour – 18 events this year and pretty good prizemoney so you can play a pretty full year. If it goes well there, maybe have a look at the US or Europe.’’
Or maybe keep playing in Japan to help Charlie find his pro feet.
Charlie Smail celebrates his NZ amateur men’s golf title win with father David Smail.