GolfRSA National Squad member Jaden Deltel

Central Gauteng young gun Jaden Deltel took up the game at the age of nine, but until the family moved to South Africa in 2017, Jaden had played all his golf on a nine-hole course in Seychelles, which was previously a coconut plantation!

His progress on the GolfRSA national junior circuit has been nothing short of exceptional and Jaden demonstrated his budding talent when he emerged victorious in the 2018 Sun City U-15 Challenge at the Gary Player Country Club.

Last year he underlined his maturing potential with fourth place finishes in the Nomads SA Boys U-17 and U-19 Championships and recently validated his selection to the 2020 GolfRSA National Squad member with a brilliant come-from-behind victory in the Bryanston Country Club Junior Club Championship. It was only his second competitive appearance since golf re-opened in June and followed a third place finish in the Kyalami CGGU Junior.

Let’s meet Jaden.

BORN: Mahe Island, Seychelles
BIRTHDATE: 14 October 2004
GOLF CLUB & UNION: Bryanston Country Club, Central Gauteng Golf Union

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS
2017 – member of victorious Central Gauteng team at 2017 Nomads SA U-13 Championship
2017 – winner of Primary Schools Inter-Provincials (IPS) at Benoni in December
2018 – winner of a US Kids Qualifier at CCJ by 10 shots
2018 – 2nd in the 2018 Gowrie SA U-15 Challenge
2018 – winner of 2018 Sun City Under-15 Challenge
2018 – T14 in US Kids Teen World Championship (Boys 13 Years) at Pinehurst
2019 – winner of the Air Mauritius Trophy (annual open amateur event at Belle Mare Plage, Mauritius)
2019 – T-4 in the 2019 Nomads SA Boys U15 Championship
2019 – 4th in the 2019 Nomads SA Boys U17 Championship
2019 – winner of an Under-19 provincial 36-hole event at Parkview
2020 – winner of the 2020 Bryanston Country Club Junior Championship

Q – Tell us where and when your love affair with golf started.
JD – It started in Seychelles when I was nine years old. I was playing soccer at the time and my dad was golfing. I used to hate going to the club with him because the grass was itchy and the mosquitos were killing me! I would just sit down at the club house and wait for him to finish. Then I started putting and loved it. I started chipping and loved that even more. Then, one night, my dad was watching Tiger Woods in a PGA event and he holed this most incredible flop shot and went on to win the tournament. I was mesmerized by the shot, the crowd screaming and his fist pumps. I must have watched this on recording 100 times or more. From that day, I decided golf is what I wanted to do in my life.

Q – Are you the sort of golfer who sets yearly goals? If so, what goals did you set for yourself to achieve in 2021
JD – I set yearly and tournament goals. In 2021, I want to represent my union at U-19 level at the IPT. As mentioned I would love to win a Golf RSA U17 and/or an U19 event (or events) to go with my U15 win. I am quite process driven during practices and enjoy practicing competitively to improve my golf – even if that means whipping my dad (a single handicapped golfer who is actually streaky good)! Of course to represent Golf RSA and South Africa are my bigger goals.

Q – You learned your golf on a nine-hole course in the Seychelles. How tough was the transition been after moving to South? What were the most difficult obstacles to overcome and did the move – and playing the GolfRSA national circuit – impact positively on your game?
JD – The greens in Seychelles are slow!! Adjusting to super-fast greens took some time. Also, the course in Seychelles is short so I had to work on my long game with fitness and strength training as well as some high level equipment changes. I also had no coaching in Seychelles and realized I needed top coaching to compete at the highest levels. I am now coached by Gavan Levenson at Royal Johannesburg & Kensington. Over the past three years plus, I have absolutely loved competing in South Africa with so much amazing talent around me and look forward to many more exciting tournaments and learning experiences to come!

Q – Talk to us about the strengths of your game and what are the weaknesses or aspects of the game you still need to attend to.
JD – My strength is my short game, especially my chipping. I love being around the greens and creating shots in difficult situations. I spend hours and hours on this part of my game because I know no matter how long you hit the ball or how straight, you gotta put the ball in the hole from on or around the greens! I also work very hard at my physical conditioning to improve my distances off the tee, because I know length is an advantage. I am not the longest 15-year-old in SA, but I can get it out there alright.

Q – In a very short period of time, you have not only made your mark on the national stage here in South Africa, but now you are also a member of the GolfRSA National Squad. How do you feel about making the squad?
JD –I’ve really wanted to be a part of the GolfRSA National Squad for a long time but always knew I had to earn my way in and that kept me focussed and patient. For three years, I have looked up to many past and present players in that squad and I am honoured and thrilled to now be a member. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Golf RSA selection committee for placing their faith in me and of course, Mr. Rupert, for all that he does for golf in South Africa.

Q – Your selection to the GolfRSA National Squad came at probably the worst time for any young golfer, right at the start of the countrywide lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic. How did you stay engaged with the game during the lockdown?
JD – Ironically, the national lockdown gave me a lot of time to work on my fundamentals at home but even more importantly on my mental state. I used the time to practice on my artificial green at home (thanks to my grandparents Nana and Papa) and read a lot of mental help books that gave me more tools to use on and off the course. Despite the pandemic, to be selected for the Golf RSA National Squad at 15 turned a not-so-great year into an incredible one for me!

Bryanston Country Club Junior Club Championship winner Jaden Deltel

Q – Although the national events have been cancelled for the season, you are able to compete at provincial level. How has that been going? You also just celebrated a wonderful come-from-behind victory at the Bryanston Junior Club Championship – tell us about that blistering back nine!
JD – I am delighted first and foremost that we are back playing and would like to thank the efforts of Golf RSA in getting us the approval with Government. Mr. Hepburn and his team worked so hard and I am so grateful. In fact, there has only been one provincial junior U19 event at Kyalami and I finished third. I was using a new set of Titleist clubs and I was still adjusting to the new distances. It showed with a bit of a rollercoaster round – I made 6 birdies but also 6 bogeys!

I teed it up on the 10th on day 2 in the Bryanston Junior Champs after a shocking front nine that left me 6 shots back. I had to go big or go home on the back nine. I thought if I could get a couple of shots back on the leader after the first few holes that maybe I still had a chance.

After 11 holes I was still 6 back even with a birdie two on 11. A mental error from the leader on 12 and a par from me closed the gap by two strokes. By the 15th, I was three back with four to play. My predator instinct kicked in and I finished birdie, par, birdie, birdie to win by one. After an ugly front nine, I cleaned up the back nine with four birdies and zero drops. Moral of the story: Never, ever ever quit!

Q – What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
JD – When my dad keeps reminding me that I’m not good enough. Not in a bad way, but in a way that keeps pushing me to get better and better. You may not say that’s advice, but it’s these four words that keep me humble. My dad is actually a phenomenal mental coach and knows just how to lift me up, but also wake me up when I drift off track!

Q – What advice would you give youngsters just starting in the game?
JD – Golf is hard and you need to stay patient. Nothing can substitute hard work and all you have that is worth anything is your own self-belief.

CHIP SHOTS

Q – Tell us 5 things about yourself most people don’t know
I speak a little Creole (the national language of the Seychelles) and understand most of it
I am a fan of Call of Duty Warzone, although I am not an expert at it! The competitiveness of the game is what I really love about it!
Apart from golf, I can’t live without bacon and my mum’s lentils!
I am in awe of Tiger Woods – he is by far my favourite golfer. I will meet him someday.
Two of my favourite movies of all time are Equalizer 1 and Equalizer 2 with one of my favourite actors, Denzel Washington . . . “The two most important days in your life is the day you were born and the day you find out why”.

Q – Which tournaments would you most like to win and why?
JD – Major, Major, Major and another Major. A Career Grand Slam, Golf Hall of Fame baby, that’s why . . .haha!

Q – If you had to pick up one animal to describe you, what would it be and why?
JD – A lion. Because I love to hunt things down!

Q – Describe the best meal you’ve had while on the road and where you had it.
JD – Bacon and eggs. Almost everywhere. Who can live without that?? The Big Champion burger at the Wimpy in Harrismith comes in at a very close second!

Q – What is your favourite season and why?
JD – Summer, because we are on school holidays and I have more time to practice and play golf. I can wake up earlier to do physical training without freezing my bum off!!

Q – Is there anything you are addicted to or can’t live without?
JD – Golf. Bacon. Competing. And my mum’s cooking!

Q – Tell us about something you hate doing and why?
JD – Taking medicine, especially liquid ones. Yuck! It tastes terrible. It can take me 20 minutes to psyche myself up to take a spoonful of medicine!

Q – As a child, what did you wish to become when you grew up?
JD – Nothing really until I discovered golf.

Q – What’s your favourite club in your bag?
JD – My favourite club in the bag is the one I’m holding in my hands when I have to hit a shot.

Q – Describe yourself in one word.
JD – Relentless.

Q – What movie can you watch again and again?
JD – The Equalizer 1

Q – Tell us about three things you consider yourself to be really good at.
JD – Golf. Eating. Irritating my older sister.

Q – What three things would you want to have on a deserted island and why?
JD – A golf course (preferably a replica of Augusta National), a set of clubs/balls and a flare gun!

Q – If golf wasn’t an option, what profession would you pursue and why?
JD – I can emphatically say that golf is the only option! I do not want to sound brash, but I believe everyone has a purpose in life. I’ve already found mine.

Q – If they made a movie about your life, which actor would you pick to play you and why?
JD – Denzel Washington. The dude is a legend and an inspiration to succeed.

Q – What are your biggest fears?
JD – Not much scares me although I am not a fan of rollercoasters.

Q – If you could trade places with anyone for a day, who would it be and why?
JD – I would trade places with Michael Jordan, one of my biggest heroes.

Q – If you could meet and have lunch with anyone in the world (real, fictitious, from any time period, dead or alive) who would you choose?
JD – Kobe Bryant. He pushed himself to the highest level of his sport and then went even higher!

Q – Any superstitions?
JD – Not really. I do believe in Karma though – what you put out, you get back double or more.

Q – Which are your favourite golf courses and which golf courses would you still love to play?
JD – My two favourite courses in SA are Gary Player Country Club at Sun City and St. Francis Links. I would love to play Augusta National and the Old Course at St. Andrews.

Q – What is your guilty pleasure?
JD – Getting away with not doing house work while my sister slaves away!

Q – Who would you like to play with in your own Fantasy Fourball?
JD – Tiger Woods. Michael Jordan. My Dad.  I know I can beat two out of the three…hahahaha.

Q – Words to live by….
JD – Rest at the end, not in the middle.

Q – If we gave you a free plane ticket anywhere, where would you go and why?
JD – Scotland. To play all the links courses in those tough, cold, windy conditions.

Q – Any hole-in-ones?
JD – I’ve had three. One at Wanderers, another at Kyalami and the last one at my home course, Bryanston Country Club. The first one was cool because I actually finished hole-in-one, birdie, par, birdie to win the tournament.

Q – I’m not embarrassed to say that ……
JD – I eat like a horse!

Q – What is your favourite quote from a movie or a person?
JD – “Pressure is a privilege” – Michael Jordan.

Q – What is still on the bucket list for Jaden Deltel?
I want to represent GolfRSA/South Africa overseas
I want to win a GolfRSA Nomads U-17 or U-19 Championship
I want to play Leopard Creek – simply an iconic venue!
I would love to meet Michael Jordan