Over the last 10 months, Gauteng North’s JP Cooper has quietly worked his way to the number three spot in the South African Golf Association’s Junior Rankings.

The 17-year-old Wingate Park player launched his hike in the standings with a runner-up finish at the Nomads Order of Merit Coastal tournament at Royal Durban Country Club in January.

He kept his ascendancy going with a tie for sixth in the Nomads SA Boys U-19 Stroke Play Championship at Umhlali Country Club in April.

Having qualified for the match play, Cooper eliminated Albert Venter and fellow Gauteng North golfers Rosswell Sinclair and Keegan de Lange to reach the semi-finals, but lost 1-down to eventual Nomads SA Boys U-19 Match Play champion, Paul Boshoff.

Cooper once again underlined his growing stature with a fifth place finish in the Nomads SA Boys U-17 Championship at Polokwane Golf Club, followed by top 15 finishes in the North and South Championship at Kempton Park Golf Club and the Nomads Order of Merit Inland tournament at Silver Lakes in July.

In early October, the Pretoria golfer and Boland’s Herman Loubser represented South Africa in the Boys U-14-17 category in the Minsheng Beijing Junior Open at the Tian’ An Golf Club in Beijing, China.

The prestigious championship that pitted youths from South Africa, the United States, South Korea, Taiwan, Australia and Malaysia against the top junior golfers in China.

Although Cooper battled with his swing, he still finished a credible 12th with rounds of 79, 76 and 75.


Vital stats:


Full Names:       Juan-Pierre Cooper

Birth Date:        18/08/1997

Birth place:       Rustenburg

Residence:        Moreleta Park, Pretoria

Golf Club:         Wingate Park Country Club

Handicap:         +1

Ranking:           SAGA Junior: 3


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

JP: Golf is my passion, but I also play hockey for my school and I used to be quite a good cross country runner.


Q: What is your most treasured golf memory this season?

JP: Tying for first after an opening 69 and going into a play-off against Jovan Rebula, who was the current SA number one, in my first Nomads National Order of Merit tournament.


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

JP: My family and my friends, especially my dad. They support me and provide love and care, even through the crazy teenage times.


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

JP: Yes absolutely. With the way SA Junior golf has expanded over the last couple of years, there is no doubt in my mind that the juniors will move mountains in the future!


Q: What did you want to be as a youngster?

JP:  All I can remember is that from the age of eight, I grew up working towards breaking the records of my idol, Jack Nicklaus.


Q: What are the strengths and weaknesses of your game and what still needs attention?

JP: My strengths at the moment are definitely my short game, wedges and driver. I aim to get the ball in below a 100m, so that I can use my strong short game to score. My weakness is my long irons, because of my low ball flight.


Q: Where and how did you start of your golfing career?

JP:  I started playing golf with my dad, Pieter, in the afternoons at Rustenburg Golf Club. I finally realised golf was my game when I won the Handicap Knock out on the age of 11. That day I knew the apple did not fall far from the tree, because my dad is a former pro golfer and my mentor.


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

JP: Have fun playing the game with your friends. Friendly competition always motivates you and your game


Q: What are your biggest fears?

JP: I was in a car accident two years ago and feel so blessed with my recovery. My biggest fear after that day is that feeling that if it went wrong I would not have been able to carry on competing. My biggest fear is being unable to compete.


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

JP: The song I enjoy before a round Alvaro Joey Dale’s “Ready for Action”. It really gets me in the zone, so that’s the song I’ll pick for the first tee


Q: And, if they made a movie about your life, which actor would you choose to play you?

JP: Jason Statham. He does movies with action and romance, so he should fit the part!


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

JP: I would go sailing. It’s an adventure. You travel and see the world through your own eyes, not on a screen


Q: Tell us something you hate doing.

JP: I hate postponing things when I scheduled for that day, because it always comes back and bites me


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

JP: Facing The Giants, it proved to me no matter what u are doing no problem is too big if u trust in yourself!


Q: If you were stranded on an island and could have just three things, what would they be and why?

JP: A pop-up house, one of my close girlfriends, and lots and lots of food!


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

JP: playing my first playoff for my school in the final!  It might not have been my biggest tournament, but it was very important, because I had to finish our TEAMS effort for the year!


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

JP: My Dad told me once no matter where u are in life or how much u have accomplished always stay down to earth “humble”


Q: Name two things you consider yourself to be really good at and explain why.

JP: I am fairly good at getting myself out of trouble on both the course and off, mostly because of my way to trust in ability to lay up on the course with my wedges and I have always had a back-up plan.  I’m also fairly good in trusting myself it’s just the way I grew up, sometimes it costs me but mostly it’s rewarding


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

JP: Rory Mcllroy at this stage many people look up to him …like me. He is the face of the new Tiger Woods at Nike and has big shoes and expectations to fill.

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

JP: Jack Nicklaus, Tiger woods and Rory Mcllroy, because these three men are the reason I am working so hard to find perfection in the magic of the game


Q: What is still on the bucket list for JP Cooper?

JP: I have always wanted to break Jack Nicklaus’ records. Also to swim dolphins and go sailing around all 115 islands in the Seychelles.


Q: Do you set yourself goals?

JP: Yes, definitely. Long term and short term, it helps monitor my progress and lets me know how much more effort I have to put in!


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?

JP: The main difference between the amateurs and they pros are that the pros are playing for their bread and milk money; we juniors do not have that kind of pressure yet, thankfully. The biggest obstacle I think we have to overcome is knowing that there are no friends on the course when money is involved; only off the course, the pro golfers are there to enjoy themselves yes! But theystill have a job to do. Ernie Els once said the minute you close that glove nothing else matters….


Career Highlights


Primary School Gauteng North schools team



U-15 Quadrangular team; U-15 SA Boys



U-15 Quadrangular team; U-15 SA Boys; U-17 SA Boys B side; U-17 Quadrangular team



U-17 Quadrangular team; U-19 Quadrangular team; U-19 IPT Gauteng North; Gauteng North High School team; SA Schools team; SA Boys U-17; SA Boys U-19



COASTAL NOOM T1; U-17 Junior IPT GN; U-19 Quadrangular team; U-19 IPT Gauteng North; SA Boys U-17; SA Boys U-19; SA team –Beijing, China; Challenge IPT

Compiled by Lali Stander

SA U19 Boys-JP Cooper

JP Cooper in action (Photo by Rogan Ward)