Caitlyn Macnab’s successful run in South Africa has continued in the US, where she is setting the collegiate golf scene alight. Clinton van der Berg
GOLFRSA SQUAD WATCH
A recent shift into the world top 20, recognition as one of the best golfers on the US collegiate circuit and a ton of promise.
South Africa’s Caitlyn Macnab is evidently ready for an assault on the big leagues.
Just don’t tell her that.
“It’s still baby steps,” says the 21-year-old from her home away from home at the University of Mississippi.
Her perspective, much like her game, is locked in.
South Africa’s No 1 amateur claims you can never really be ready to turn professional and is thus eyeing the prospect cautiously. The golf world is littered with the bones of aspirants. She wants to be prepared and still has a year and a half to go at college, where she is studying health and fitness.
“I’ve had some decent performances,” Macnab says modestly. “But there are things I’d still like to accomplish. There’s so much more competition here and it takes time to get used to things.”
At the end of September she flirted with the world top 20 when she climbed to a career-high 18th in the official World Amateur Golf Ranking – as at the end of November she was 22nd – off the back of two collegiate wins and a good run of consistency.
Macnab’s top six.
I’ve had some decent performances. But there are things I’d still like to accomplish
The first overseas win came in 2021 playing for the Texas Christian University, where she scored 11 top-10 finishes in two seasons. She subsequently transferred to the University of Mississippi at the start of the 2023-24 season where success was swift. A fifth-place finish at the Cougar Classic was followed by a win at the Mason Rudolph Championship earlier this year. All in her first semester at Mississippi.
In early November, Macnab was listed for the ANNIKA Award, given annually to the most outstanding women’s college golfer. Given the depth of competition, this confirms her as a serious talent.
These are the sort of accomplishments that burnish a scholarship and ensure both parties are happy to do business.
Her appetite for the big occasion is not in question. She competed at the Augusta National Women’s Amateur twice, finishing 11th and ninth respectively in 2022 and 2023, and played at the World Team Amateur Championships in October. The bright lights don’t bother her; she relishes competition.
Macnab, who hails from Ekurhuleni and attended school in Benoni, has flourished as a member of the prolific GolfRSA National Squad – she won two SA Amateur championship titles and the Jabra Ladies Classic – but the US has given her a sharper picture of the scope and scale of international golf. It’s 10 times bigger in the US, she says, but she’s managing thanks to the university’s generous support structure and excellent coaching.
Macnab’s best finishes in the past five years.
She’s on a team of 11 and they want for nothing. The golf programme is slick and The Rebels’ needs are taken care of, allowing them to pursue excellence without worry.
Immersed in golf and studies, Macnab says she doesn’t get too homesick; besides, having travelled for several years, she’s grown used to the distance apart, and the associated absences. The wonders of technology help, too, and she FaceTimes her family often.
Inevitably, she comes from solid sporting stock: her dad Justin is an accomplished golfer and played high-level hockey, and her sister Brook is a show jumper. Polo is also a big family sport. Caitlyn herself has played golf since the age of four. Dinky plastic clubs were quickly ditched in favour of the real thing.
Ready or not, Macnab is aiming for the pro circuit in 18 months, followed by Qualifying School for the LPGA Tour. She plans to remain in the US, chiefly because that’s where the big action is. But doors are also beginning to open and she’s wallowing in the life experience, as anyone her age ought to.
Macnab’s win with her new team ranks as the highlight of her US sojourn, so too attending big South Eastern Conference American football games and travelling to different cities and states.
The US, you sense, has stolen her heart.
“I’d encourage it for anyone lucky enough to get a scholarship,” she says. “It’s a big step, but the adventure is worth it.”
Highlights of Macnab’s win at the 2020 SA Amateur Championship.
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