Maddie May has been a member at Russley Golf Club since she was seven years old. After turning 17 shortly after her 11 shot win in the South Island amateur at St. Clair, NZ Golf Magazine decided to go one on one with the Cantabrian to find out just what makes this talented golfer tick.
WHEN DID GOLF BEGIN FOR YOU?
When I was about five or six my parents took my older brother Zach and I down to Russley. They had a Junior golf program on Sundays and for a gold coin you could do whatever you liked. Then if you wanted to continue they would put you into a squad. and you would practice in your squad.
The time would come to move up the ranks and play nine holes and eventually 18 holes so I give full credit to Russley for bringing me up through their junior program to where I am today.
WHAT HAS YOUR PROGRESSION BEEN?
During the last couple of years, I have been working hard to just get better every tournament. Not so much score-wise but what am I taking out of it, asking myself better questions about how I play and how can I get one shot better. I have been playing the South Island Amateur Strokeplay for six years and each year you can see clear improvement. However, as you get better it gets harder to improve. So I have to keep asking myself how to even save another half shot a round which means a couple of shots in a tournament.
WHAT WAS YOUR HANDICAP AS A 10 YEAR OLD?
When I first played this event I was about 11 y.o. I remember my first one because it was four rounds in two days. I can remember saying to mum after the first day, ‘I don’t know if I can go out and do it again’, so I didn’t play very well. You have to keep pushing yourself. But all credit to my parents. No matter how it goes they are always supporting me but do not push me. They are the most loving and best golf parents you could wish for. They take the good and the bad.
HAS IT ALWAYS BEEN GOLF FOR YOU?
No. Both of my brothers Zach, Sebastion and I played hockey and cricket. We were obviously born with the hand and eye coordination ability to play hand ball sports. I think it helped me as well playing team sports. I was 14 when I decided to concentrate on golf. Sebastion plays golf as well as Zach. He is in year 11 at school and has made the top teams in hockey and cricket.
WHAT TEAMS YOU HAVE REPRESENTED?
I have represented Canterbury since I was 11 years old. My first Interprovincials was as a 13-year-old in Whangarei where we came second. It was an incredible experience. One I will never forget being so young. I have played number one but last year I was a strategical three with Momoko (Kobori) back and it paid off.
YOUR SHORT TERM GOALS?
This year I am looking to play in New Zealand and maybe by the end of the year get to play in Australia. We will just have to see how it goes. However, I am planning to go to College on a Golf Scholarship in January next year at the University of Mississippi.
HOW DID THAT COME ABOUT?
In 2019 I went over to play in the US and I did pretty well. College coaches come and watch and they like their International players. Quite a few people took a liking to me so I have been able to go through the recruiting process talking to many schools and after considering the options I decided on Mississippi.
WHAT EVENTS DID YOU PLAY IN?
I played three events. The first one was the SCG International where I came third. Then the IMG Junior Worlds which is the big one where I was happy to finish 12th. Finally, I finished 13th in another SCG Championship.
WHAT ARE YOUR LONGER TERM GOALS?
After I finish College I hope to stay in the US and go to some Qualifying Schools for the LPGA Tours. It is a scary prospect but at the same time incredibly exciting.
DO YOU HAVE ANY FAVOURITE COURSES?
My favourite overseas is Dinah Shore where I think they play the Ana Inspiration. In my last tournament in the US we played two rounds there. In New Zealand, my favourite is Jack’s Point although I haven’t played many of the top North Island courses. I also think Arrowtown is cool.
WHO IS YOUR COACH?
Early last year I decided to work with Simon Thomas who is in Hamilton. He coaches me remotely and he is incredible. I couldn’t ask for anyone better. He is all about the long term and so am I, so we are working on a pathway to get me to the LPGA. He is on board with everything.
ARE THERE ANY PLAYERS WHO INSPIRE YOU?
Lydia Ko. When I was 10 I was fortunate enough to play with Lydia at Clearwater before the NZ Open. Some of the juniors back then got to go along before the event and have a competition with some of the Pros and I was lucky enough to get paired with Lydia. I knew it was a big deal and it was great watching her win the Open.
Maddie May has clarity about where she would like to take her golf career, but also the ability and maturity to give it a good shake.