“I used to dream of the time when I would turn professional, I read so many books about all the girls. I also heard stories of how hard and cutthroat they were. I was terrified when I showed up at the tournament in Baltimore. I saw so many stars in the practice tee. Right then I wanted to go home.”– Sally Little from her book Capturing the Fire.
Due to the lack of ladies tournaments in South Africa, I started out my preparation for the “comeback” Sunshine Ladies Tour in 2014 playing IGT tournaments (men’s development tour). I can remember my first tournament like it was yesterday, as I arrived all the men’s heads turned. You could feel their stares every step you took. Not knowing anyone I completely felt out of my comfort zone, and instead of a warm embrace from someone…anyone… I was left alone, which did not help the feeling of intimidation. It took quite a number of IGT tournaments to get to know some of the guys, and start to feel somewhat comfortable.
Heading to Europe last year 2015 for the first time, was a very similar experience. Where instead of some girls trying to help me out, I had to learn the hard way. I even missed my first registration, because I wasn’t aware one had to register online. Until a couple of tournaments later, Cecile Lundgren from Norway who comes to South Africa to play in the Sunshine Tour events, was kind enough to help me out, which I am forever grateful. However, the first few tournaments were very daunting and isolating. I was given the cold shoulder by most of the Italian girls, apparently they weren’t happy with the “new girl” getting ranking points for the Italian team. With all this going on, all I wanted to do was to play my best golf.
When the Ryder Cup took place a couple of weeks ago, you saw team work at the highest level, and in my opinion some of the best, most exciting golf. It was the entire atmosphere that made the guys perform. I understand that it takes time to get to know people, but I do believe people need help along the way to make the journey much more enjoyable. After all we all want to succeed and play our best. Through these experiences I have learnt that as much as golf is an individual sport it is just as much a team sport.
Playing in the IGT this last week, all three days I played with very talented players, all on their way to making it in the “Big League”, and when one hit a slightly wayward drive, I found myself saying, “get lucky”, more so than I would to my own ball. This is a small demonstration that if you want someone to do well in a tournament, why not go a small step further and help each other before and after a round.
UniMedia have recognized the importance of teamwork in this industry, and it is only through coming together that will give more players the opportunity to make it. Corporates recognize the value in team work, therefore send their employees on team building courses. Everyone has to start somewhere, and I believe there should be a more accepting, helpful ambiance at both an amateur and professional level.
Francesca Cuturi ‘Sunshine Lady Tour Player’ with Sally Little