She is blonde, beautiful and bountifully talented. Even beating all her Female Pro Golfer colleagues at the recent Little Pace Challenge! I took some time to sit down with Lejan to gain an understanding of her loves and long terms goals.
Now Lejan, your story is very similar to Sally’s in the sense that you both are from South Africa, travelled to America and honed your golfing skills internationally, and now you have returned to your home with this new level of play?
I definitely think that my time in America has helped my game. The biggest aspect has been experience. I got to play amongst some of the world’s top amateur golfers in university, as well as play on some of America’s great golf courses.
What are the greatest differences between the game in the US versus here in SA?
I would say one the biggest differences between the USA and RSA was that at university a golfer is very much seen as an athlete. Therefore our fitness training was very regimental and intense – one of the reasons being that tournaments often included 36 holes per day, played without caddies. I leant to play on many different types of courses and a lot of adverse weather conditions, competing against other international players of a high standard.
Golf has not been your only love for a while you actually were very involved with sailing. What are the similarities between the two and why did golf win in the end?
Indeed, I played many sports during school including tennis, hockey, and sailing at provincial level. In fact I still play hockey at club level to keep up fitness. Sailing was however my first passion, I started when I was 9 years old. My dad got me sailing when he used to take me out on his boat on the local dam down the road from where we lived. I competed for South Africa at the European Optimist Sailing Championships in Poland when I was 14. Sailing most definitely shaped me into the person I am today. A lot of the characteristics like discipline, dedication and hard work learnt at such a young age definitely benefit my game and goal of reaching the top.
When you are sailing, you are alone in your boat, no one to help or assist you. You have to make your own tactical decisions and you have to have stamina. When you are sailing out on the ocean, you go into survival mode, which meant me being determined, focused, and believing that I was strong enough to battle the testing conditions. It is much the same in golf. A lot of decisions are tactical ones, how will I get the ball in the hole with the least amount of shots but with the least amount of risk? I am the one that makes the final decision of what club to use, what shot to hit, and what line to pick. And finally, even if I’m having a bad day on the course, you have to fight to the end, it’s the same in sailing, it’s not over until you cross the finish line.
So having studied health and fitness, which you actually completed at Texas State University, does that give you an edge in the game of golf?
It actually wasn’t until I turned 17 years old that I decided to take golf seriously and began coaching. Obtaining a degree in Health and Fitness Management has definitely given me an edge in my golf game. I learnt a lot about fitness, what to do and not to do in terms of training. My physical training is golf specific, and with this knew found knowledge I have been able to apply a lot of what I learnt to my game, not only physically but mentally and technically.
Having won the 2015 Jackie Mercer Trophy in the SA Women’s Open on the Hibiscus Coast, what do you think your chances are for today? Are you feeling strong?
Winning the Jackie Mercer trophy at the SA Open was such a highlight – giving me confidence and belief that the sky is the limit. Every time I tee it up in a tournament, there is a belief that I can win. My game has come a long way since last year’s Open, so feeling even stronger and looking forward to European “Q” school as well as the next SA Open later in the year!
Be sure to follow all of Lejan’s progress on social media:
Twitter – @UniMediaPro
Instagram – @mikaelaoosthuizen
Twitter – @smilemikaela