We catch up with Rotana Howard from the Cook Islands who has just played in the World Amateur Asia P
This week we caught up with one of the players of the first ever World Amateur Asia Pacific Championship (WAAP). Not from a country you associate with golf it was interesting to learn more about golf in the Cook Islands and her own personal journey and experience of playing in the WAAP.
When did you first start playing golf?
I first started playing when I was 8, just going out with my dad. I really enjoyed it and started getting more serious into golf when I was 14.
Who are/were your golfing heroes growing up?
From the start its always been my dad but I've also become a huge fan of Tiger Woods, Rickie Fowler and Lydia Ko (below).
Is golf a popular sport in the Cook Islands?
Golf in the Cook Islands is fairly popular compared to other sports. It is one of the most popular social activities on the main island. There are 2 courses within the 15 islands of the Cook Islands, both which are only 9 holes. It is very easy to become a member, the members welcome new members and are always up for a game of golf and a good chat after.
Are there many places to practice?
In regards to driving ranges etc there is almost nothing. We do have a single driving net, a space of 10m with a distance range of 70m as a warm up area and a very few putting greens.
How could you get more girls to play there?
For me I think if you give them future incentives and make it fun at the start they will learn to enjoy the game first and hopefully be keen to carry on and branch out overseas.
What do you like most about golf?
I enjoy that it is an individual sport and the challenges you are faced with and having to conquer it on your own. No-one else will hit or putt the ball and the fact that anything can happen at any given time. The amount of talent that is out there is amazing to watch.
What do you like to do away from golf?
I enjoy playing netball and just playing card games with the family and friends.
Your brother is a very good golfer. Does that help you with your game?
Yes it does, he helps me a lot when we are playing together and is always giving pointers. He's younger than I am and is full of talent so its always good getting tips whenever I can from him.
What has been your WAAP experience?
I started off quite nervous seeing how every little detail was planned out but also thoroughly enjoyed the experience and especially the host's hospitality. It's been amazing to watch the other girls and how they play. Something I would take away is driving & short game are the main keys to playing well and just enjoying every moment.
You are the Cook Island Amateur Champion for the last 2 years?
Yes I have won this multiple times but I'm not quite sure if that makes me the amateur champ for all islands - Cook islands yes but not with the other pacific islands.
What is your biggest strength on the golf course?
My length i would say, I may not the be the straightest at times but definitely gets me closer to greens or not playing as high clubs as others.
What areas of your game do you need to work on?
Definitely driving, long iron shots, shot shaping and short game. Can never do enough practice of everything.
How often do you get to practice?
At least 3 times a week. My current job is at a golf course so I try to get out of the office as much as I can but most times doesn't always work that way.
You have played with A-yean Cho a few times. (Runner up of the Aus Amateur and 6th at the WAAP) how good would you say she is? (below)
I watched her play at the Danny Lee Open in Nz and the WAAP. She's as good as her handicap says (veeeery good). Very lovely to watch and makes the game look so easy.
What are your Goals for 2018?
Hit it straighter/longer and sharpen up all areas of the game for the next one and make the cut. I would like to play more tournaments where I can so the next experience isn't as scary as this.
Good luck to Rotana in the future and i am sure it will be a great experience for her future.
Quick facts about the Cook Islands.
The 15 islands that make up the Cook Islands have a combined land mass of just 92 square miles (or 237 km2) – less than one fifth the size of Los Angeles!
Total population of just under 18,000 lucky residents