If you’re a club golfer dreaming of your first hole-in-one, please do not under any circumstances read any further.
When Belinda JI – the 15-year-old amateur playing in her second professional event – stood on the 17th tee at Bonville Golf Resort in Coffs Harbour this morning, it was with the knowledge that any ace would not be her first.
Nevertheless, the Sydney schoolgirl did what Wollongong’s Thomas Heaton (also 15 at the time) did back in November 2017 at Twin Creeks in the men’s NSW Open, one-bouncing a beautiful seven-iron straight into the hole at the pretty 131m hole.
Half an hour later, JI was still buzzing from the moment.
“I struck it really well; it was a good flight. Just straight online, one bounce and it hopped in,” she recalled.
“I actually didn’t know if it went in, but the lady marking the scores on the 17th said it went in, so I was really excited, a bit overwhelmed, but really happy.”
The last time JI had the good fortune of signing for a (1) was, as she puts it, “a long time ago” when she was eight and starting out in golf at the Juniors on the Move tournament at Sefton Golf Course in western Sydney.
The schoolgirl’s entry to this European-sanctioned event is not the stuff of legend, of adversity, or varsity – it’s a passion that’s kept growing since her mum and dad took her to a driving range for a lesson when she was still in primary school.
“It (golf) is a new thing for our family,” she said.
“None of my parents played golf. They try to invest as much as they can into my game, and I really appreciate that. They’ve done so much for me. Without them, I wouldn’t be here.”
Not long after her first hole-in-one, JI qualified to play in the women’s NSW Open as a 12-year-old, playing off 2.
She is a former NSW junior champion (2016) and has played the past two seasons in both the NSW girls and women’s teams. A member of the prestigious Concord Golf Club, JI plays in the women’s pennant team.
“Playing here, another professional tournament at (the age of) 15 is another good experience, and I’m trying to learn as much as I can from it,” she said.
The ace left JI at four-over for her first round, a competitive round on a course “willing to tip you upside down at any moment”, according to a fellow competitor.
Where she finishes doesn’t matter, the learning is the key. Next week she tees up in the women’s NSW Open for the second time.
And the week after that?
Back to year ten at high school.