Exceptional Caro Els continues to shine
At 17 years of age, Caro Els is one of the busiest golfers is the country, competing both locally and continentally. Hailing from Swakopmund, Els has gathered valuable experience and is ready to take on the world.
She was introduced to golfing in 2007 at the age of nine by her parents, who both played causally, but it was only at the age of 13 that she began to fall in love with the sport and began participating in local youth tournaments.
“I loved the technical aspect of golfing. It’s a sport that requires a lot of mental solitude, probably more than any other sport,” she says, speaking about what drew her to the sport in the first place.
Currently, Els is coming off a successful spell and is only looking to advance it. Last year, she snapped up a silver medal in the ladies’ golf competition at the African Youth Games held in Gaborone, Botswana after putting up a stunning performance to finish only two points behind Nigeria’s Anita Uwadia.
Els went into the final day of the competition in the lead, after scoring 73 in Day 2 only to be overtaken by the Uwadia.
She followed this up with a win at the Namibia Ladies Open Strokeplay Championship held at Omeya Golf Course in June 2014.
Having virtually grown up with golf, Els says she is grateful to the work to Thea Groenewald, who took over as president of Namibia Ladies Amateur Golf Union (NALGU).
“She has done a lot of development in the sport and I can say that I have benefited from it, because a few years back, ladies’ golf in Namibia was dead,” says Els. Despite significant steps that have been taken in women’s golf in Namibia, Els’ development is such that most cannot keep up with her.
“My biggest challenge is that there are still not enough ladies doing golf in the country, so there is not enough competition for me. In order to consistently play against good opposition, I have to travel to South Africa on a consistent basis,” Els says.
The teenager also laments the lack of a sufficient number of golf courses in the country. She believes she could do much better if there was a wider availability of training courses in Namibia.
“The competition I face in South Africa has a variety of golf courses available to them so they can practice different techniques. I am limited to one course,” she says.
Having to travel to South Africa, as much as it brings valuable exposure and experience for the young golfer, she says it also brings its share of challenges. This is mainly, traveling costs as she has to fly often. Thanks to Daven Sport Trust, who help sponsor some of her flights, she is able to continue, though the financial burden for the most part, she says is on her parents.
As a Matric student, she often has very little time in her schedule for leisure.
“I have to be away from my family a lot, which is very difficult. Currently, I have a month off from school so I can compete.I can’t spend as much time as I want to with my friends and family, it can be very stressful but at the end of the day I know it is worth it,” Els says. She adds that her parents are very supportive and she values the time they spend together.
Els says she has to balance school work, traveling to compete and a training regime of about 3-4 hours every day. Besides that, she is also into athletics and netball, in which she competes at a school level.
Currently, she has been busy preparing for three competitions, namely the South African Amateur Strokeplay Championships which took place this past weekend in Cape Town and the Bank Windhoek Namibia Amateur Ladies Strokeplay Championships from 25-26 April once again at the Omeya Golf Estate, where Els will be defending the title she won last year. International players such as Swanelle de Lange, Cara Gorlei, Demi Flanagan from South Africa and Zimbabwe’s Batsirai Tilowakuti are expected to compete for top honours.
She will then follow this up by competing at the Regional All Africa Open which will take place in Windhoek on 28 April.
“I have the home ground advantage so I hope I can do great,” she says.
Els calls on more women to take up golfing as a sport in the country in order to develop it further. She points to the benefits she has reaped from it as an incentive for more to follow in her footsteps.
“Golf develops social skills. It is a game that requires patience and can help with things in your personal life, outside the golf course. You learn lessons such as not counting your chickens before they hatch, and if you pick up golf at a young age, your brain will develop at a quicker rate than your peers,” she advices. She adds, “If you commit to it, golf can also open a lot of doors for you, including outside Namibia.”
Els plans to study in the United States next year and says she will pick up college golf while she finishes her education as she plans to have something to fall back on when she decides to turn professional.
by Andreas Kathindi