Carrie Park’s victory in the Sanlam SA Amateur Stroke Play Championship and her rise to the number one spot on the Womens Golf South Africa’s Senior and Junior Rankings recently earned her an honours award from the Gauteng North Golf Union.

Her national breakthrough at Stellenbosch Golf Club in April put an exclamation mark on the blossoming potential that carried the 17-year-old South Korean to the number one spot in the GNGU Ladies Rankings.

Park underlined her growing stature when she drained a 10-footer for birdie at the 16th hole and held her nerve to par the 18th to seal a one shot victory for the biggest achievement in her career.

However, Park has been in superior form since last year when she celebrated victories at the Gauteng Junior and the Ackerman Championships and reeled in seven top five finishes, including runner-up spots in the Eastern Cape and Boland Championships

The GFG Academy member kicked off the 2014 season with victory at the Border Championship and vaulted to the number one spot in the WGSA Senior Rankings with her second podium finish in the KwaZulu-Natal Stroke Play Championship in March.

The Irene golfer supplemented her success with some impressive top five finishes this season, including ties for second in the Free State & Northern Cape Championship and the Gauteng 54-Hole Championship, third place finishes at the Eastern Province Championship, Curro SA World Junior International and Nomads SA Rose Bowl Championship and a fourth place at the Gauteng North Junior Girls Championship.

She won the individual honours at the WGSA 72-Hole Team Championship in May, finished fourth in the Gauteng North Junior Girls Championship and reached the quarter-finals of the Sanlam SA Women’s Amateur Championship in August.

“Carrie’s individual achievements in the last 12 months have been impressive, but she has also proven her value in team competition,” said GNGU vice-president, Thea Nel.

“Carrie was a member of the victorious Gauteng North B-team that claimed the Challenge Trophy at the 72 Hole Teams Championship at Maccauvlei Golf Club in May last year and aided the Gauteng North A-team to seal their seventh successive Pick n Pay SA Women’s Inter-Provincial title at Port Elizabeth Golf Club in 2013.

“She represented GNGU at both events this season and her contributions were impressive, as always, and she also made her mark among the amateurs that competed on the Sunshine Ladies Tour with sixth, third and second place finishes in the Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies tournaments at Houghton, Glendower and Blue Valley respectively.

“Her victory at the Sanlam SA Amateur Stroke Play is the result of hard work, dedication and determination and Carrie is a wonderful inspiration for the next generation.”


We caught up with the talented golfer during her debut at the Cell C SA Women’s Open at San Lameer and learned more about the girl behind the dimpled smile and the lethal swing.


GNGU: Four victories and you have also been incredibly consistent and always seem to be threatening. What is the reason for your success?

CP: Thanks for the compliment. I really think it comes down to number of hours of practice and number of rounds of golf I play. I am more experienced than last year, and I’ve learned more. I would say that the proper golf training, mental coaching and fitness training are essential to success.


GNGU: How did you get into the game and who inspires you?

CP: We were still living in South Korea and my dad used to take me with to the golfing range with him. I decided to play golf when I was 12, so I started to practice. I kept with it when we moved to Australia and eventually here to South Africa. My golfing idols are Annika Sorenstam and Ji-Yeh Shin. I am also a great fan of Hendrik Stenson and Adam Scott.


GNGU: How did you end up living in SA?

CP: I came to South Africa in Grade 9 with my dad. He sent me in boarding school, because he was impressed with Southdowns College and he liked the GFG golf program. I also joined the Gauteng North Golf Union, whom I have represented at several national events.


GNGU: What is your lowest round yet?

CP: I shot 65 at Zwartkop during a Gauteng North junior tournament last year.


GNGU: What is the best career advice you’ve received?

CP: Well, I have received a lot of great advice. Let see, one of my favourites – you got to do what you like and what you good at and you must do it properly.


GNGU: How do you balance golf with your other obligations, like school work?

CP: I don’t procrastinate. I try to do my work immediately as possible


GNGU: You are ranked number one in South Africa and you’ve won the Sanlam SA Amateur Stroke Play. What else is left?

CP: I would like to finish the season as the number one in the senior and junior rankings and improve my stroke average. It is sitting at 72.42 at the moment and it would be great to get it below 72.


GNGU: What are you working on?

CP: My coach, Graham Francis, and I are working on keeping my club square and connected because it has tendency to get shut and long on my back swing.


GNGU: Was winning the SA Stroke Play the best moment of your career?

CP: Yes, that was the biggest but winning the Ackerman Championship was one of my highlights, because it was my first victory in a senior event and kind of big moment for me. I waited for a long time and I won under really tough, windy conditions at Rondebosch Golf Club.


GNGU: So, we take it that was your AHA moment?

CP: Absolutely. It meant so much to me, because I’m in matric and I didn’t prepare as well as I would’ve liked for the tournament. I wasn’t hitting the ball well so had to rely on my confidence to know I was good enough, and I just had to play my own game.


GNGU: What advice would you give young girls just taking up the game?

CP: I want to tell girls that golf is really a lot of fun, but yes, it is true that it takes up a lot of your leisure time. Do not be intimidated by the boys, and hitting far is not everything in this game.


GNGU: What can be done to further improve the state of women’s golf in South Africa?

CP: I think girls who are interested in golf should be encouraged to play provincial golf, so they can increase their number of rounds and gain experience. The top ranked girls should play with them, so the young girls can learn and be motivated to keep up their practice as this will positively effect in growth in junior golf.


Parting Shots


If I got banned to an island, the three things I couldn’t live without would be coffee, because it’s compulsory in the morning, a mirror because I like to admire myself (hahaha) and my phone, because it has all the songs I love and can’t live without.


My fantasy fourball would include Hendrik Stenson, Luke Donald and Annika Soremstam. I’m a great fan of Henrik and Annika and I think that would be so amazing and worthwhile to play with them and I’d like to get an up-close look at Luke’s short game. I would love to talk to all of them not only about golf but stuff they like to do, their superstitious or whatever!


The questions I get asked most is if I am Chinese…nope, I’m Korean.


I never travel without dark chocolate


Before I die, I still want to bunjee-jump, visit 50 countries and shoot a round of 59.

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