8-year old S.A. golf prodigy battles world’s best and the weather in USA
Eight-year-old Athlone golfing phenomenon Traigh Pathon competed in the annual U.S. Kids Golf World Championship at the famous Pinehurst club in North Carolina last week.
After three days of competition, Traigh finished a creditable 24th out of 132 players in his age group.
Traigh’s father and coach, David van Schalkwyk says the conditions were tough as the players had to contend with both heavy rain and a heat wave on a really demanding course.
On the second day, Traigh’s round was suspended by rain after only 30 minutes which meant he had to complete two rounds on the final day.
Van Schalkwyk says: “The course itself was very difficult with fast greens and much longer than usual distances – the par 5’s felt like par 7’s for Traigh. Even though it was a tough course, he played really well in the context of his age group and, most importantly, had lots of fun during the tournament”.
Traigh and his dad flew to America courtesy of Turkish Airlines which also sponsored his recent trip to a major European event in Scotland. Van Schalkwyk thanked Turkish Airlines for recognizing Traigh’s potential: “Without them we would not have been able to play internationally this year.”
Traigh hit his first golf ball when he was only 14 months old and played his first full round at the tender age of four. He is the youngest member of the prestigious Royal Cape Golf Club in Cape Town.
Q&A with Traigh’s parents:
1) The secret to raising a golf prodigy?
Invest in them when young – we took Traigh for swimming lessons and baby gym. Keep ensuring they believe they can achieve anything and that nothing is impossible. We were lucky Traigh discovered his talent at an early age and as parents we committed to helping him achieve his dreams.
2) Traigh’s most memorable win?
US Qualifier in February 2018 – two day tournament with 2nd place 8 shots behind him.
3) Traigh’s most significant golf title?
Top 10 in European Kids Open (9th) and Malaysia Kids Open (7th)
4) How does Traigh stay calm and focused for international trips? Does he have a ritual like most athletes do before a big competition?
Early to bed.
He eats lots of almonds and pasta.
He also listens to his favourite song to get into the right mood for a great day.
5) What is it like to keep up with the financial side of things the kit, the club fees, etc.?
Very hard, golf is an expensive sport – we can’t always afford it but we try and keep up with what we can. Since he started playing we’ve bought him second hand clubs. Last Christmas we bought him his first set after saving for a while. We are so thankful for Turkish Airlines for sponsoring our trip to Scotland and America, without them Traigh would not have been able to play internationally this year.
6) Top 3 tips for golf parents?
Keep it fun, time is the most valuable investment – money and material things are less important.
7) What’s next for Traigh?
Ensuring that he keeps having fun and enjoying the sport. At the end of August we will travel to San Lameer in Durban for the Africa Junior Challenge, Africa’s most prestigious golf tournament.