School comes first, says future golf star

School comes first, says future golf star

ÖZGÜR KORKMAZ BELEK- Hürriyet Daily News
School comes first, says future golf star

Klara Spilkova, a 16-year-old professional golf player from the Czech Republic, tees off for the President’s Putter competition at the National Golf Club in Belek. Spilkova finished seventh at the Turkish Airlines Ladies Open at the National last May

Dreaming of becoming one of the top women golf players of the future, a 16-year-old girl from the Czech Republic still has a long way to go, including graduation from high school.

Having turned professional at the beginning of this year – making her the youngest ever member of the Ladies European Tour (LET) – Klara Spilkova has said finishing school is one of her priorities.

“I want to have a long career and try my luck on the LPGA [U.S.-based Ladies Professional Golf Association], but for now, I should also concentrate on my education and get my high school diploma,” Spilkova told a group of journalists on Tuesday at the National Golf Club in Belek.

“I have been traveling a lot since my days as an amateur player, but luckily the school has been supporting me in my career,” said Krilkova.

Spilkova, who started playing golf when she was 4, was given special permission to attend the LET Qualifying School for the 2011 season on account of her record but as a minor, she will need to travel with a guardian to LET events until the age of 18.

She travels to events with Aneta Zarubova, her full-time media representative and caddie, but also has an extensive team of experts on hand who are setting her on course for a bright future.

The 16-year-old made an impressive start to her professional career at the beginning of this year, finishing 11th at the Lalla Meryem Cup in Morocco in March and seventh at the Turkish Airlines Ladies Open at the National Club in May, but had to wait until September to have another impressive result. On her home soil, Spilkova finished 9th at the Raiffeisenbank Prague Masters.

When asked about her role model in women’s golf, the Czech golf sensation said she wanted to follow in the footsteps of Annika Sorenstam, one of the most successful golfers in history, showing the level of achievement she is aiming for.

Spilkova was at the National as a guest player of the President’s Putter competition, which was held for the 16th time. She played the course with Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, head of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) and Antalya deputy for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), Turkish Golf Federation chief Ali Ağaoğlu and Dr. Bülent Göktuna, president of the National Golf Club.

The Czech player said she enjoyed the round played under “nice weather on a great course with friendly people.”

Göktuna also praised Spilkova for her success so far, adding that he believed she would become one of the top players in the future.

He said he also hoped that a Turkish golfer would join one of the professional tours in three or four years

Göktuna said a young golfer raised in the National Golf Club’s Juniors Program, a charity program that brings together 70 kids from under-privileged families and the city’s orphanage, would soon become a tour player.

The National will host the Turkey leg of the LET for the fourth time in May, and Göktuna has other plans in mind. “We are trying to bring a leg of the European Tour to the National, but of course we will need the support of major sponsors to achieve this goal,” said the club president before handing the President’s Putter trophy to Des Mccrum.