A Wakatipu High student’s played a key role in a New Zealand youth golf team beating the might of China.
Otago rep Danielle Bailey, 17, was in a 12-member mixed NZ team, and one of four 17-18 age group players, who competed in an inaugural matchplay tournament in Queenstown’s sister city, Hangzhou.
When the sides were even after two 36-hole days of team competition, the tie was decided by NZ winning the 18-hole singles competition on the third day.
Danielle beat her opponent 3 up with two to play after being 5 up after nine holes.
“It’s kind of crazy, China has 1.2 billion people, and I beat their best girl golfer [in her age group] – she spends eight hours a day practising, every single day.
“And their team had been travelling all over the world, and our team met for the first time two days before.”
Danielle says she wasn’t intimidated by the large gallery, or the occasion: “I just accepted the pressure, I guess, and went for it.
“It was quite stressful but then afterwards it was like, ‘wow, that was amazing’.”
Probably due to her age and confidence, Danielle also assum-ed the role of team spokesperson.
Her mum Kerrie Bailey, who wasn’t there, was told her daughter “chatted with everybody and got the team rallying around if their heads got down a bit”.
A highlight off the course was a youth development seminar taken by NZ Institute of Golf co-founders Gary Wilson and Craig Dixon – ex-coaches of Kiwi Lydia Ko – and Kiwi caddy Steve Williams, who carried the bag for Tiger Woods.
“I got to talk to him for a couple of hours,” Danielle says, “just all about the mental game and how having a balance between childhood and playing golf is super-important”.
Back in Queenstown, Danielle is a member of the Wakatipu Junior Golf Club.
She says local coaches Jamie McIsaac and John Griffin have been inspirational, while her biggest influence has been her older brother Joshua, who’s “super-competitive”.
She advises other junior golfers to play rounds with older people “because that’s where you learn most from the etiquette side of things”.
What Danielle most likes about golf is “how challenging it is, and how you never know what to expect”.
Her ambition’s to gain a United States college golfing scholarship next year, and then to play, initially as an amateur, on the Ladies European Tour.
Meanwhile, next week she heads up to Christchurch to play the South Island women’s under-19 championships.