Arrowtown golfer and Otago number one amateur, Laura Hoskin, is about to embark on a challenging path to fulfill her long-held goal to become a successful pro golfer.
The 23-year-old leaves for China on Wednesday to begin her quest on the China LPGA Tour, where she will compete in tournaments with prize money ranging on average from $100,000 to $180,000.
Her path to this point has been one of determination.
Educated at St Hilda’s in Dunedin from the age of 10, she would bike every day in all weathers to practise at Balmacewen.
That was “character building and how I became the golfer I am today”, she says.
Year 13, her final school year, she was home-schooled so she could focus on golf full-time. It should be mentioned that at age 15 she represented Otago at the Interprovincials.
In September 2014, she ventured to the United States for four years on a scholarship where she gained a degree in journalism and furthered her golf.
One year in at Oregon State University, she was cut from the team early when the coach who hired her was fired. She was in limbo for two months and was “so scared that all the hard work might come to nothing”.
She was busy contacting schools when Ole Miss, Mississippi, called. So her three years at Ole Miss taught her the most about golf and how to play in a competitive team environment.
“The thing about college golf is you have a coach and other girls training alongside you practising all the time, developing skills you then have to put into action on course.”
Hoskin says it’s a nice environment. “We are all friends but travelling the country playing weekly we had to learn how to separate a friendship and a rivalry. After all you are one of a squad of eight competing for the travelling five.”
Hoskin consistently scored in the low 70s with scores also in the 60s.
She came home in June and has played to a high standard. The Interprovincials in December saw her presence for Otago at number one strengthen the team. She won six of her seven matches in an outstanding week.
In January, she ventured to Hainan Island, China, to attempt to qualify for the China LPGA Tour. “120 players competed and the top 30 girls gain full status. I finished 14th so I got myself a job.”
The NZ Open was her last event as an amateur. Playing in the pro-am with Michael Long, she performed admirably with rounds of 67 and 70, well inside the men’s cut line.
The tournaments are in clusters with as many as 16 tournaments from March through to December.
“I will play the first two then come back for a month. I will then head back for several events over a two-month period around the Hong Kong, Beijing area.”
Hoskin leaves with no sponsorship as yet.
“Maybe something will eventuate or if I start winning I can pay my own way.”
If things go well she wants to keep playing in China then go to the US in August for the Symetra tour qualifying school, however it will take substantial finance. The Korean tour is another option, as is the Japan tour.
“That is more of a dream as it is very expensive with four stages of qualifying.”
As Hoskin concludes: “It is hard work but that is golf and that is why I love it.”