RISING STARS – KYLE McCLATCHIE
In our series introducing the South African Golf Association’s future generation champions, we caught up with the country’s current number two ranked junior, Kyle McClatchie.
In both individual and team events, the young upstart from Ekurhuleni underlined his growing stature in a breakthrough season last year and, if his performances in early 2014 are anything to go by, local golf fans will definitely see more from this promising golfer.
McClatchie began the 2013 season with victory in the Central Gauteng U-23 Open Championship at Glenvista, then claimed a play-off win in the Reading Junior Classic and delivered an outstanding performance in his debut for the South African Junior side that defeated the SAGDB and a team from Scotland in the annual Triangular at Rankpark in February.
He reached the semi-finals of the Nomads SA Boys U-19 Match Play and claimed the runner-up spot in the Stroke Play Championship at Benoni Country Club in April and rode that wave of confidence to helping Ekurhuleni to a runner-up finish in the A-Section at the South African U23 Inter-Provincial.
In September, the Serengeti Golf & Wildlife Estate celebrated his debut on the senior team by helping Ekurhuleni to A-Section promotion at the SA Inter-Provincial Championship, sponsored by Tempest.
The King Edward VII School learner continued his winning ways alongside his KES team mates to beat Southdowns College and win the Retief Goosen SA High School Championship, in association with IMG.
McClatchie also delivered an outstanding performance in his international debut at the seventh Italian International Under-16 Championship. After helping South Africa to a runner-up finish in the Nations Cup, the young gun carried his form to a joint third place finish at the Golf Club Biella Le Betulle.
He launched his 2014 season with a top 10 finish at the first NOom event at Royal Durban Golf Club before defeating Limpopo’s Hennie du Plessis in a play-off for the Dr Bam title.
He led a South African team to victory in a two-day Test against the French at his home course, Serengeti Golf and Wildlife Estate, and made a big contribution to the SA Junior side’s victory in the annual Triangular at Randpark against a Scottish side and an Elite Team from the SAGDB.
This April, McClatchie will travel to Zambia with Jovan Rebula, Du Plessis and Altin van der Merwe where the team hope to claim South Africa’s 16th consecutive title in the All-Africa Junior Golf Challenge.
While McClatchie’s record speaks for itself, we dug a little deeper to find out more about the teenager on, and off, the golf course.
Q: Are you the sort of golfer who sets yearly goals? If so, what goals did you set for yourself to achieve in 2013? What are your long term goals and how do you hope to achieve them?
KM: Yes, I definitely set goals every year. In 2013, I set goals to improve my stroke average and all aspects of my game. I desperately wanted to make the Under 16 team to go to Italy to experience competitive international golf, which I achieved. I also wanted to make the Ekurhuleni Premier IPT team, which I also achieved.
My long term goals are to be a pro golfer who can compete around the world. I hope to achieve this by setting goals and improving year by year and always believing in myself.
Q: Tell us something most people don’t know about you.
KM: Most people know me as a golfer, but I don’t think many know that I’m a bit of an academic, too. (McClatchie achieved an A-average at the end of 2013).
Q: How tough is the transitioning between the junior and open amateur circuits? Tell us a little about the differences between the two circuits, what are most difficult obstacles to overcome and how things are going as you head into the new season?
KM: The Junior Circuit is unbelievably competitive and you know your rivals so well, whereas the amateur circuit is a little easier because the expectations from your competitors are lower and you don’t have much to lose. I am still young and don’t play a lot of senior amateurs, but it is nice to experience four days of competitive golf with cuts to see what I can expect in the future.
This year I really would like to make the S.A. team to go to Japan…that is a big goal and something that I am working hard towards achieving. I will be playing a few amateur events as well this year, but I always try and keep a balance between golf and school, so I need to pick the events that I would like to play in carefully.
Q: Describe the best meal you’ve had while on the road and where you had it.
KM: I was playing in the SA Boys U-15, and my dad took me to a restaurant in Hout Bay and let me order a Lobster Thermidore…best mean ever!
Q: If a song was played at the first tee, what song would be played for you?
KM: The Fighter by Gym Class Heroes. The words are very powerful.
Q: Tell us about your career highlights, especially the treasured memories.
KM: I think finishing 3rd in Italy after being seven over after the first seven holes will stay in the memory banks for quite some time, because it really showed a lot of character for me. Also playing some of the best golf of my life at SA Boys Under-19 and finishing second. One of my other fond memories was playing with my best friend, Jovan Rebula, in SA Boys U-15 and shooting 71 in howling wind and rain at Somerset West. And the eagle at the second play-off hole to win Dr Bam, my first National Order of Merit title.
Q: In your opinion, what are the strengths of your game? And what would you describe as the weaknesses of your game, or aspects that you still have to give attention to?
KM: I drive the ball well and believe I’m one of the best ball strikers in the junior game. I’m also very consistent from week to week. My weaknesses are wedges and that needs a bit of work.
Q: What is your favourite home-cooked meal?
KM: My dad’s baked chicken and bacon pasta. It’s a real treat in the McClatchie household.
Q: Do you think the future of South African golf is in good hands? Who among the crew of amateurs out there at the moment do you think will be our future Major winners?
KM: Yes I do think it is in good hands. Our age group is very strong and I can see many possible major winners. Names that come to mind are Tristen Lawrence and Jovan Rebula. It will also be interesting to see how the careers of Haydn Porteous and Brandon Stone progress.
Q: What advice would you give youngsters just starting in the game?
KM: I would tell youngsters to always work hard at the game and try to enjoy it as much as possible.
Q: Is your glass half full or half empty?
KM: I think of myself as a positive person, so I would say half full.
Q. What is still on the bucket list for Kyle McClatchie?
KM: I would like to finish my junior career at number one and my amateur career at number one. One of my dreams is to fist pump on the 18th green at Augusta to win the Masters.