By PHILIP CHANDLER
A Queenstown 19-year-old’s fulfilling a dream by taking up a golfing scholarship in the United States.
Former Otago rep Danielle Bailey’s off to Western Washington University in Bellingham — the northernmost university in mainland US — for four years.
She was also offered a scholarship to the University of Hawaii, ‘‘but when I thought about where I saw myself, Western Washington felt right’’.
Danielle, who leaves at month’s end, was originally meant to go in August but decided not to due to Covid’s spread in the US.
The scholarship’s well timed as she believes she’s playing the best golf of her life this year.
After returning from China early last year, where she’d helped the New Zealand under-19s beat the host country in a matchplay tournament, she’d gone off her game.
She didn’t play for a few months and, when she did, wasn’t as dedicated as before.
She’d not been helped by ‘‘a few people’’ saying she was wasting her time pursuing golf.
Danielle credits her Frankton-based coach, Doug Matthews, for helping her through ‘‘probably the roughest patch in my life’’.
She’s since become more motivated than ever to work hard in the gym, and on her swing and mental side.
‘‘I think that’s down to the fact when the golf courses reopened [after lockdown], me and my brother played lots of golf together, as we were in the same bubble, and we both made our games so much better.’’
She says Josh, 21, has been the biggest influence on her game.
‘‘Without him, I wouldn’t have that competitiveness.
‘‘The best thing for my golf was playing against boys because they’re hitting so much further than you, so you’re always just pushing yourself.’’
Perhaps as a result, Danielle says power hitting’s the strongest part of her game, which the US’s longer courses should suit.
Apart from golf tuition and playing for the university team, she’ll do English literature and business studies.
‘‘I can’t believe that playing the sport has allowed me to go over and come out of uni with no debt — it’s just insane to think hitting a little golf ball can do that.’’
For Covid reasons, she has to pay more heath insurance than usual — to that end, friends staged an auction last week which raised about $2500.
After uni, Danielle hopes to play on the European ladies tour or, if not, on an Asian tour.
‘‘I would also like to be a teaching pro at some point.’’