THE NEXT BIG THING
At 16 years old and having cemented her spot as the No 1-ranked women’s amateur in the country, the sky's the limit for Kesha Louw. Cody Hansen
GOLFRSA SQUAD WATCH
Kesha Louw has always dreamed of playing professional sport. And in 2020, a year before heading to high school, she made the decision to take golf seriously. At the time, the East London native held junior provincial colours in tennis, hockey and golf. But in order to get the most out of her game, she felt she had to drop the other sports.
Fast forward three years and Louw has taken the South African amateur golf scene by storm. With an incredible 12 top-10 finishes at 13 open amateur events in 2023, including two victories, the 16-year-old became the top-ranked women’s amateur golfer in the country after her tie-second finish at the Boland Women’s Open Championship in September.
After a successful title defence at the 2023 Ackerman Championship in October, THE GOLF MAG caught up with Louw to discuss her game, how she balances school and golf, and her goals.
What would you say has contributed to your success this year where you have been incredibly consistent, and how did you take your game to the next level?
I have very supportive parents and friends, an awesome coach and a golf club back home that have helped me on my golf journey. I took my game to the next level by focusing solely on golf and practising hard at doing the right things to reach my goals.
Off the course with Kesha Louw.
Hannes told me that if I wanted to have any sort of successful golf career I would have to change my behaviour. Which I have done, and I am a better golfer for it
How did it feel to become the No 1-ranked women’s golfer in South Africa for the first time?
It really felt amazing. It has always been my dream and goal to become the top women’s golfer.
What was it like playing at the 2023 R&A Girls Amateur Championship and what did you learn from the experience?
It was quite an experience playing with such talented and competitive girls from other countries. I learned how to handle the pressure of people watching me and how to play in links golf conditions. I also learned how to pace myself when I had a late tee-off time in the first round.
What has been your best golfing experience so far?
It was when I got chosen to play at the R&A Girls U16 Amateur Championship in Scotland in 2022 [above]. It was my first experience playing golf internationally.
Playing amateur golf at the highest level requires a lot of travelling. How do you balance schoolwork and golf?
I manage to balance both by doing online schooling. This has given me the time to practise more, go to gym more often and to be able to play at more tournaments.
What are your goals for next year?
They are to get chosen to play in the team at the All Africa Junior Golf Challenge and to be selected for the R&A U18 Junior Girls Championship. I would also like to win SA Girls and finish at least in the top three at both SA Amateurs.
What is the best part of your golf game?
At the moment I would say it’s my chipping and wedges from 100m in. My driver is also consistent.
What is the most nervous you have ever felt on the golf course, and how did you deal with it?
It was when I played the Ackerman Championship at Atlantic Beach this year. I really wanted to defend my title from last year and when I was leading after the first day, I felt the pressure of maintaining my position. I was also tensed up when I was putting, so I told myself to do deep-breathing exercises, play one shot at a time and not think about my score.
I expect a lot of myself, so the first thing was to make the cut, and I was relieved to do so... There definitely was different pressure but I think I held things together quite well
How has being a member of the GolfRSA National Squad benefited you as a player and as a person?
The camps have definitely helped improve my golf. I have learned a lot from all the coaches, because they have given me great mental advice and amazing drills to work with. I have also formed incredible friendships at the camps.
What are your goals in golf?
My main goal is to get a full golf and academic scholarship to play college golf at one of the top US universities and see where it takes me from there. I also want to be consistent throughout my tournaments.
What advice would you give to youngsters looking to take golf seriously?
Golf is a very difficult game, if you practise hard and just enjoy the sport you will become a better player.
ERNEST BLIGNAULT/GOLFRSA/R&A VIA GETTY IMAGES/TYRONE WINFIELD/SUNSHINE TOUR/SUPPLIED