Woman with dive TANIA PUTTS AWAY THE PAIN
The grieving golfer can’ t help but feel below par
porting ace Tania Tare has caught the attention of golf fans around the world with her dazzling skills on the green, but beneath her polished exterior, the Aucklander is nursing a broken heart after the death of her beloved father.
“My dad hasn’t left my mind since he h died,” Tania tells tells Woman Woman’s Day sadly. “It has been a really hard adjustment not having him around. He was a great dad. I knew if anything happened to me, he would fix it.”
The 28-year-old has become an internet sensation in recent years, thanks partly to her Tiger Woods-inspired golf tricks, which include flipping clubs, and juggling and bouncing balls in a number of spellbinding ways. They’re skills that have caught the imagination of more than
88,500 followers on Instagram.
Tania takes some comfort from the knowledge that before her treasured dad David Gilbertson died in June, he’d seen just how far his sporty daughter had soared in the competitive world of professional golf.
Especially because when she first showed u an interest in a sporting career, the former businessman struggled to understand. Tania explains, “He was quite old-fashioned. He thought I needed to start my own business. He didn’t understand how golf and being an athlete could lead to a respectable future. But then he saw Lydia Ko’s success and he finally understood what I was trying to achieve.”
With her focus firmly on the LPGA tour, Californiabased Tania – who recently competed in the New Zealand Women’s Open – is tipped to have plenty more sporting successes in front of her, but sadly, David will not be there
to celebrate at the 19th hole.
He suffered from various ailments over the past decade, including bowel cancer, kidney failure and low liver function, and a month before he died at 70, Tania flew home from the US to spend some quality time with him.
She jumped on a flight back to Aotearoa once again when she received news that her father’s death was imminent, but she arrived at his Palmerston North Hospital bedside an hour too late to kiss him goodbye one last time.
“I’ve never seen anyone love as loyally and genuinely as Dad loved his kids,” says Tania quietly. “He was not the affectionate dad, but he showed he cared in different ways.”
Despite her grief, Tania’s career continues to blossom. Growing up in Ponsonby, the gifted Kiwi became fascinated with golf tricks as a 12-yearold after seeing Tiger Woods balance a ball on a club in a TV commercial.
“It was the coolest thing I’d ever seen to do with golf,” she recalls, smiling. “So I grabbed some clubs and started learning how to juggle the ball between my legs. Up until then, I’d never even hit a golf ball, but I quickly found I could do the trick.”
Two years later, Tania’s stepdad took her for her first game of golf and she discovered she had a natural aptitude. Soon, she was regularly lugging a set of clubs around the course and she went on to become one of NZ’s leading amateur players.
In 2009, at 20, Tania took up a scholarship to attend Florida International University in pursuit of her dreams of becoming a pro. She graduated in 2013, but hit a major speed bump when she needed three operations on her wrists in the same number of years. It was during this period that she started performing golf tricks as a way to relieve the boredom and frustration of being on the sidelines.
“Friends and family started tagging me in videos from other golf trick-shot performers, asking if I could do this trick or that trick. I thought, ‘That looks cool,’ so I went to the range to practise.”
Tania began filming her exploits a couple of years ago, but it was only after a montage was posted on an Instagram page called Women with Drive that her popularity exploded. “The next day, my phone started going crazy,” she grins. “One of the most rewarding things is having friends who have no interest in golf see my tricks and then comment that golf is cool.”
These days, Tania spends most of her time focusing on her game so she can play on the LPGA tour, but she still finds time to work on new and exciting tricks. “I love coming up with a trick shot, pulling it off and capturing it on camera. I love the challenge.”
Fairway Tare-away! Hotshot Tania’s got her tricks with the bballll ddown tto a ttee. “He was a great dad,” says Tania of her beloved father (above and left). Right: Learning her moves while battling back from injury. h t