Saint Andrew’s grade 12 learner Carlos Laranja will represent the Free State at the Men’s Senior Inter-provincial, to be played at the Mbombela Golf Club from 16-20 September, for the second year in succession.
Last year, he made the team as a wild card. This year, he hasn’t needed the wild card tag, something which he says makes the selection even more special.
Going over his performances this past year recently, Carlos said: “During the season, I played mainly Free State tournaments and I have been consistent throughout the year and have produced good scores. There has been an improvement.
“My handicap at the moment is plus-3.8. Last year, I was a plus-2.”
Included among his results were a win in the Harrismith Open and claiming the Nomads Junior Open at Schoeman Park in his last outing as a junior.
At present, Carlos practices on Tuesdays and Thursdays after school and on the weekends. His coach is Corné Viljoen, who operates out of Schoeman Park, and also coaches Saints’ junior school standout Dewan de Bruin.
Describing Viljoen’s influence, Carlos said: “I think he’s very positive. His support produces positive ideas and good scores. Sometimes I make stupid mistakes and he reminds me of what I need to do. The basics are essential.”
However, his biggest improvement this year, he believes, has been in his mental approach. And that means never giving up on a game, ever, Carlos added.
Growing his game
Despite his success and his outstanding handicap, he revealed there is still plenty of room for further improvement too.
“My long game is actually good. I am very consistent. My short game is so-so. I think I can improve it.” When one considers the long-held golf maxim “drive for show, putt for dough”, it’s clear that Carlos is yet to reach his ceiling. So what of the future?
At present he is focused on completing grade 12. Although he has lived in South Africa for a little less than two years, and understood little English when he arrived at Saint Andrew’s, Carlos is now a top 10 academic in his grade. It has taken a dedicated effort from him and his teachers, but the results are outstanding.
Golf and the future
Carlos said he is uncertain what he will do after completing grade 12. He might work, but, if possible, he would like to play golf. He has no sponsors at present and some support would go a long way towards giving him an opportunity to see where his golfing talent might take him.
Playing national tournaments would also provide him with the exposure to maybe capture the eye of potential sponsors, and he wants to keep his development local.
“I think South Africa is one of the greatest countries to play golf in and develop one’s game. The level is very, very good at amateur national tournaments,” Carlos concluded.