Chips Shots with Jason Smith

Gauteng North’s Mens Player of the Year Jason Smith made international headlines when he held off 2014 British Amateur champion Bradley Neil from Scotland, 2013 North of Ireland Stroke Play champion Dermot McElroy and local favourite Stefan Cronje at Benoni Country Club to claim a one stroke victory in the prestigious South African Stroke Play in February.

Three months later, Smith made his debut in theAfrica Zone VI Golf Tournament, where he helped chase down the country’s 19th consecutive victory in the championship since 1995.

In June, Smith was part of six-man South African Golf Association team that travelled to Scotland and competed in the St Andrews Links Trophy, the British Amateur Championship in a two-day Test against a Scottish Golf Union side.

The Irene golfer received a late call-up to replace Christiaan Bezuidenhout in the three-man team heading for the Eisenhower Trophy at the World Amateur Team Championships. He contributed in three out of four rounds and partnered fellow Gauteng North golfer Zander Lombard and Gerlou Roux from Western Province to a tie for 43rd in Japan.

In October, Smith held off Central Gauteng’s Matthew Spacey at Germiston Golf Club to win the Ekurhuleni Open Stroke Play Championship by one stroke and joined Hennie du Plessis from Limpopo and Ekurhuleni’s NJ Arnoldi at the MCB Indian Ocean Amateur Golf Open in Mauritius.

After a runner-up finish in the prestigious international event, the TuksSport Golf Academy player and Arnoldi set off for Argentina in early November.

The pair combined for a ninth place finish in the Juan Carlos Tailhade Cup and the Gauteng North golfer also reached the top 16 in the Argentine Amateur Championship.

We sat down with South Africa’s current number three and learned more about Smith’s dreams and goals, fears and aspirations.

Q: What are the strengths and weaknesses of your game?

JS: My strengths would definitely be my driver off the tee and putting. I’m really aggressive off the tee and it helps when you hit it closer to the green, when other guys are hitting irons and leaving themselves much further back. My weakness at the moment would be my distance control with my irons into the greens. I hit the ball really well, but many times in a round I a great approach and it flies straight over the flag or the green and I walk off with a bogey.

Q: What are your most treasured memories in your career?

JS: Winning the SA Amateur Stroke Play is the greatest highlight of my career. It had a bit of sweet and better – the sweet part was that it was my first national victory and the bitter part was that my dad had to miss it for work.

Q: What is the most pressure you’ve ever felt in tournament golf?

JS: The two-footer I had to hole to win the SA Stroke Play. It’s hard not to feel the pressure no matter what you tell yourself…

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you have ever received? 

JS: Generally everything my dad tells me, is right and on point because he knows me so well. I read a lot and I found a quote that I will never forget: “Never a failure, Always a lesson”. You should never be afraid to fail, because you learn something out of every experience!

Q: Tell us a little about the start of your golfing career.

JS:  I started playing junior foundation when I was 14. I used to walk the course with my dad when he played but I never really played a proper round until I was about 13. To this day my dad wishes that he started me earlier, because we know this game is all about experience.

Q: What advice would you give youngsters just starting in the game?

JS: No matter how bad things may seem, don’t get angry on the golf course. Laugh at yourself when you hit a bad shot, but never get angry – the moment you get angry, you won’t be able to focus clearly on your next shot. That will just make you even angrier and you will not play well. My dad has tried to teach me this my whole life, but I only started listening recently.

Q: Do you think the future of South African golf is in good hands?

JS: Without a doubt! Especially having Mr Conradie as president now, I know he will help South African amateurs become the best golfers they possibly can be. He has our best interests at heart and he only wants to see us succeed as golfers!

Q: In your opinion, what player has had the most influence on men’s professional golf?

JS: Tiger Woods definitely! He changed the way people see golfers from being fat and unfit to well-built lean machines!

Q: Do you set yourself goals?

JS: Yes, I do. I think setting goals is the only way to progress in this game because you always have something higher to strive for no matter how good you get!

Q: As a youngster, what did you wish to become when you grew up?

JS: Ha-ha! My parents still laugh when they think back to what I said I wanted to become. The first thing I can remember wanting to be was a traffic points-man… I know right, what a dream!

Q: Tell us something most people don’t know about you.

JS: I have a marshmallow heart when it comes to animals, actually anything that lives! My conscience is way too big to kill anything. I once saw a bird get hit by a truck on the highway and I must have cried the whole way home.

Q: Is there anything you are addicted to or can’t live without?

JS: Golf is an addiction, but I couldn’t live without spending time my family and my girlfriend. It might sound strange, but I am who I am because of them and I love that! They tell me when I’m being a fool and when I’m changing and I love that they keep my head at a decent size.

Q: Biggest fear?

JS: There are not enough words in the English language to describe how scared I am of moths!!! But I still won’t kill one. Sometimes, in the early morning, I won’t go to the bathroom because I’m too scared to walk in the dark, so I will hold it in until the sun rises!!!

Q: If a song was played at the first tee, what song would be played for you?

JS: This is a tough one… Something that will pump me up, but not too much. Maybe Do or Die by Afrojack & Thirty Seconds to Mars

Q: If the made a movie about your life, which actress would you choose to play you?

JS: Maybe Channing Tatum… it doesn’t matter who plays me, as long as Katy Perry is in the movie!!!

Q: If golf was no longer an option, what other professional would you choose?

JS: I would probably give Formula 1 racing a go! I think, besides golfers, those guys live an awesome life!

Q: Tell us something you hate doing.

JS: Making food when I’m really hungry! It just seems like it takes double the time to cook and you eat most of it before it’s done, which is pointless in the end!

Q: What movie do you watch again and again and why?

JS: Never back down! Absolutely love this movie!

Q: If you were stranded on an island with just three things…what are they?

JS: Katy Perry, My phone and Wifi… really fast Wifi!!!

Q: Which three people would you pick for your Fantasy Fourball and why?

JS: Tiger Woods, Rory McILroy and Katy Perry. Tiger and Rory are the best players that our generation will see and it will be awesome to see how they play, and Katy Perry is just so hot, might have to hide her from Tiger… hahaha.

Q: What is still on the bucket list for Jason Smith?

JS:  Of course every golfer wants to win a major, especially the Masters, but I would love to have a gym session with the Rock and Arnold! 

Q: You have been competing in some IGT Tour events between the SAGA national and provincial tournaments. What to do find to be the biggest difference between the two circuits and what are most difficult obstacles to overcome?

JS: I think the main two difference are that you are playing against some tour pros who have their sunshine tour cards and playing for money! They both add a different pressure to what we feel on the amateur scene. In my opinion The IGT tour is awesome but you need to play amateur golf to set yourself a platform to play overseas and test yourself against the best amateurs in the world!