Women's Golf Q&A: Bertine Strauss
Feb. 28, 2012
What was it like growing up in South Africa? It’s obviously a little different than America considering it’s a third world country. I’ve really enjoyed South Africa, and I know I’ll be going back there. That will always be who I am.
How did you start playing golf? I started when I was 9, so that was a pretty long time ago. I started by just messing around with some of my dad’s old clubs, and he saw that I could hit the ball pretty decently and got me a set of my own. I progressed from there. I used to play a lot of sports when I was younger. I played tennis pretty competitively. I liked all sports with a ball, and that’s just how I started.
Do you have any golf idols or role models from South Africa? I don’t have a specific idol but there are a lot of golfers that I like different things about. Obviously being from South Africa, Ernie Els has been a big role model for a lot of kids back home. Recently, people like Charl Schwartzel and Trevor Immelman, who have won the Masters, have also been very good role models. I’ve actually played with Charl’s brother quite a bit when I was back home. To see him, where he started off and where he is now, it’s really an encouragement to see that it really is possible to do that. On the women’s side, Lee-Anne Pace won the Order of Merit in the Ladies European Tour in 2010, and I also played with her at the amateur level back home. She’s definitely been a good example for all of us girls as well.
How have you adjusted to being in America and in Austin? I think the people in Austin are great, especially the people here at school. Everyone has been really helpful, and I’ve adjusted pretty well to life here. I thought it was going to be a bigger change, but I think I’ve adjusted pretty well.
What inspired your decision to attend The University of Texas? It was a tough choice. I had to decide between a few schools, but there is nothing that UT cannot offer a student athlete. The facilities and everything are amazing. I think the people and the care that they showed when I came here on my visit, I just felt like they actually cared about me and my needs. They wanted me to come here and be happy and that was definitely the deciding factor for me.
How has your golf game developed during your freshman year? I got a little bit unlucky last semester; I got pneumonia so I was out for about half of the fall season. I’ve learned a lot about the way I handle myself on the course and the way I think, and the level of competitiveness here compared to back home has definitely required some adjusting. I’ve learned a lot about myself and how to handle myself, and I’m excited for the spring. I think it’s going to be really good.
If you could bring one thing from home to Austin, what would it be? I’m going to say my boyfriend. I’m going to drag him over here soon.
What advice would you give to a fellow golfer? I think most importantly what I’ve learned and what I’ve tried to apply most is to just go out there and play. That’s basically all you do. Go out and be competitive and enjoy the fact that you get to play this awesome game. At the end of the day your score matters and it matters how you do in a tournament, but if you go out and play and have fun, that’s the most important thing.
What do you see yourself doing in 10 years? Hopefully I’m still playing golf and having a good time doing it. Maybe I’ll be married, but probably no kids yet.
What are your golf goals? Everyone says, “Yeah I want to play on the LPGA and be No. 1 in the world,” but my personal goal is to just play to the best of my ability and if I could get to that point where I am No. 1 or get to play on the LPGA, great. But if I know that I have achieved what I can personally achieve, then I think that will be my ultimate goal.
What is your favorite shot to take/club to use? I, for some reason, enjoy bunker shots. I know a lot of people are not fond of them, but I’ve always felt comfortable with them. Bunker shots are interesting, they’re something different, and they’re not straightforward. I really enjoy those. Also, when you have to make a putt or hit a good shot -- high-pressure situations where your adrenaline starts going. Any shot in an environment or situation like that I really enjoy, too.
What was your most memorable shot, or putt, you’ve made? I’ve had some interesting shots, but I definitely think when I was 15, I made a six-foot putt on the last hole to win the South African Under 18 Championships (formally Nomads South African Girls Championship (U18)). I was pretty happy about that. It was the last hole, it was getting dark and it would’ve been a mess if I had to go to into a playoff. I was pretty happy to see the ball go into the hole, so that shot definitely ranks up there.
What accomplishment are you most proud of in your golf career? I definitely think playing for my country and representing South Africa. When you’re young you look up to those people, and I had always hoped to do that one day. It’s a proud moment when you represent your country. Also, just the fact that through golf I’ve been able to come to UT and play at a wonderful school. Those are the two main things I would point out.
If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be? I’d probably go to an island. Maybe Bali or some place like that.
If you could go on a date with a celebrity, who would it be? I would have to go with Rafael Nadal. Definitely.
If you could meet one person, dead or alive, who would it be? I think Nelson Mandela just because of all the things he’s done in my country. He’s such an inspiration to South Africa and to the world that I think it would be very cool to meet him.