Little wants more girls to win in Glacier Junior Series
In February, the country’s leading junior golfer Lara Weinstein became the first girl to qualify for this season’s Glacier Junior Series National Final and she will be competing against the other 24 finalists for the chance to tee it up at the prestigious Orange Bowl Junior Invitational in the United States at the end of the season.
Having just past the halfway mark of the popular series, Weinstein remains the only one female golfer to win and South Africa’s most successful woman golfer, Sally Little, is calling on the country’s top junior female golfers to step up and make their mark.
“With her victory, Lara not only became the first girl to qualify for the Final since the Glacier by Sanlam series launched in 2010, ” said Little, who hosted her third annual event at Royal Cape Golf Club in the Western Cape on Sunday where Johann Germishuys became the 12th male finalist this season.
“But Lara also set a new benchmark for her peers and, starting with the Pawpa Sewgolum event at Durban Country Club on Tuesday, I would like to challenge the girls to really step it up. We need more Lara’s in the final.”
Little took up golf at the age of 11 and was just 17 when she claimed both the SA Amateur Match Play and Stroke Play titles. She moved to the United States in 1971 where she grew into a dominant force on the Ladies PGA Tour (LPGA), winning 15 times, including two Majors, and topped the LPGA Money List in 1988.
Since her retirement from professional golf, Little has become a driving force behind the growth of the women’s game in this country. A staunch supporter of the Glacier Junior Series, Little urges the younger generation to embrace the series and the benefits it brings.
“During these June holidays, many of our aspiring junior golfers will be spending their vacation time at the golf course and there is no shortage of Glacier Junior Series tournaments to enter,” she said.
“I found that playing against the men, I raised the level of my game and found shots that I didn’t even know I could pull off. These tournaments will give the girls a chance to expand their competitive experience, raise their games and show the boys a thing or two.”
Bianca Theron from Kuilsriver Golf Club and Michaela Fletcher from Pietermaritzburg are two juniors who came painfully close to joining Weinstein at the final and both girls agreed with Little’s assessment.
“Playing against the boys was quite a departure because I usually only compete against girls,” said Theron, who lost the Jean Hugo event at Stellenbosch by one shot. “I had to adjust my course management to be competitive and really had to dig deep to keep up with them. It definitely raised the level of my game.”
Fletcher also came within one shot of winning the Peter Matkovich tournament at Umhlali in March.
“The only way to improve is through competition, but you tend to play against the same girls all the time,” the 16-year-old said. “Playing against the boys at Umhlali was a great experience. Although they play from the mens’ tees and we played from the ladies’ tees, the boys still outdrive us on most holes. I really had to sharpen my focus to be competitive against them and it definitely pushed me to take my game to a higher level.”
Little said that Theron and Fletcher should also inspire the younger generation.
“Lara, Bianca and Michaela showed great courage and led by example,” Little said. “There are 12 events left on the schedule this year and I hope the girls will except my challenge, go out there and shoot the lights out and give us more reasons to celebrate.”