THINK YOUNG, PLAY HARD
Bertine Strauss is playing the LPGA Tour in 2016.
GROWING UP IN A SMALL TOWN
People may think it was a disadvantage for my golf by growing up in Koster, a small farming town near Rustenburg in the North West Province, but it couldn’t have worked out better. Close by is Millvale Private Retreat, an estate owned by Investec, and I was always welcome to play and practice on the 18-hole course there. I became friends with Investec’s Sam Hackner and Robin Magid and they have supported me for many years. Without Investec’s sponsorship, I wouldn’t have been able to a ord my rst year on the LPGA Tour.
ON ENDURING LPGA QUALIFYING SCHOOL
You wouldn’t wish the Q School experience on anyone – it’s brutal! The rst stage in California last August wasn’t too stressful, and I managed to win it, but I battled in Stage II in Florida and just made it through to the Final Stage. Eventually I earned the 15th card (there were 160 players competing for 20 spots over ve rounds) by playing the nal nine holes in 2-under. It was exhausting, but you gain tre- mendous self-belief from the experience. I really felt like I had earned my stripes and that I belonged in the pro game when I returned home to play in the Ladies Joburg Open in January. I have since made my LPGA debut in the Bahamas LPGA Classic, where I made the cut (on the same score as Lee-Anne Pace) and earned $3 595.
THE DIFFERENCES BE TWEEN MEN’S AND WOM EN’S PROFESSIONAL GOLF
There are obviously more opportunities for (South African) men to play overseas on foreign tours than there are for women, and aspiring female pros in this country have to take a very big leap of faith to go overseas. A di erent challenge women face is the decision on when to put their career on hold – sometimes in their athletic prime – to start a family.
ON WHY THE KOREANS HAVE BEEN SO SUCCESSFUL
I think the Koreans have an incredible work ethic, which is ingrained from a young age.There is a perception though that many Koreanborn players on the LPGA Tour are pushed into golf
and see it simply as making a living, rather than pursuing it for the love of the game. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, but because they have shown talent and subsequently been ‘forced’ into golf, people perceive them as being quite ‘robot-like.
ON GOING THE COLLEGE ROUTE
You really have to want to go to America to study and play golf – it can’t be because your parents want you to do it. Because once you’re there you have to be an independent person.You can’t be expecting a great time, all the time. There will be many moments that test you. I was lucky that Dylan Frittelli was at Texas when I arrived, and when Brandon Stone joined the golf team I was in my second year. Brandon’s dorm was opposite mine and he used to visit often because I had a TV – and Rooibos tea!
ON SUPPORTING THE SUNSHINE LADIES TOUR
I desperately want to play in enough events to qualify for the Chase to the Investec Final at Millvale in March – I’ll be the only one with local knowledge! For the remainder of the year I should get starts in approximately 20 events on the LPGA Tour. It’s going to be a great adventure. My boyfriend Wian Faber – a PGA pro from Centurion – will be travelling and caddying with me this year.
In her professional debut
in South Africa, Strauss finished second in
the Joburg Ladies Open.