What got you addicted to golf?
Honestly, the thing that truly got me hooked on golf was the fact you cannot conquer it. There is a continuous challenge no matter what level of golfer you are. No round is the same. No day on the course is the same. Every single time you play it’s different and there’s an opportunity for something amazing to happen, so there is this never-ending appeal. Outside of that, for me it also has to be the continuously beautiful views, the desolate areas on the course where you hear nothing but nature, and the people you meet playing golf. I could probably talk on this point forever but I’ll stop here [laughs].
What makes the game fun for you?
I really enjoy golf for the many different ways you can play it. Even going as small as things like how many different ways you can play each shot. I personally get excited when I’m presented with an interesting chip shot. If all else fails, I normally put wagers on my games with friends to spice things up a little.
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What makes the sport a turn-off for you?
The rigidity. I know I am a little outside the normal spectrum of golf with the trick-shot stuff so this was probably a simple answer, but I do still at the same time have great respect for the sport and often think a lot of the traditionalists don’t think that is a possibility. Being completely honest, I actually enjoy and appreciate a lot of the golf traditions and don’t want them to disappear. What I would like to see is golf adapt the same way and at the same speed the world adapts. We don’t need to change golf, but I think golf should be more open to incremental changes at least, and alternatives. To me, one of the greatest strengths that golf has is that it’s one of the few sports that has so much potential for alternative ways to play it and enjoy it. And I think we need to use that as a power move, instead of shying away from change. The world isn’t going to slow down, and I would hate for a sport as great as golf to be left behind.
What’s the secret to attracting the next generation?
I think golf’s marketing should be geared more towards society now, which I think has a shorter attention span. I think there should be more formats of play. I wish the Singapore tournament on the LPGA Tour played their event as a night-golf event, with floodlights, just for something different to watch. I also wish there were more knockout-format tournaments where fans would be able to get more behind their favourite players. Bring on more matchplay and even more little gimmicky knockout events, like closest-to-the-pin shootouts. To me, any avenue to get someone to enjoy golf is one step closer to getting them to want to go on the golf course and play themselves. I think it’s a big jump to go from no golf to jumping on the golf course and trying to play and, often, if that is their first experience, it’s a little hard to love something instantly that you found extremely hard. For me personally, I had to enjoy golf off the course before I even willingly wanted to go on a golf course. I have a thousand ideas on this. Some in the works, some hopefully we can start working on soon.
Worst experience at a club and why?
I haven’t had anything dramatic happen to me. Just simply being ignored at certain prestigious clubs by certain people, but I have also had great experiences at them as well. I have been told when arriving to courses before that there will be no trick shots while I’m there. But again, I have also had the exact opposite more often. I have seen some people get unfairly treated at courses before but those are not my experiences to share.
Best experience at a club and why?
From the first day I got into golf I’ve been treated incredibly at my home course, Titirangi (in Auckland), which is why I always give that course so much credit, on top of the actual layout, which speaks for itself. They were very supportive of me as a teenager when golf was a little more old-fashioned, and completely accepting of the way I wanted to play, which is important.
How have trick shots influenced the way you approach golf?
They’ve changed the way I think the game should grow. Doing trick shots and where I’m at right now in my life with golf, it’s made me realise a lot more people like the idea of playing golf. On top of that, when people who don’t play golf get excited about watching a trick-shot video that is golf-based, it highlights to me the fact that golf still has a deeply cemented stereotype and that there is a lot of room for everything beyond that stereotype that many people don’t know exists. Jumping into the game doesn’t have to involve country clubs and heavy dress codes. There are many different avenues to enjoy the game. So with trick shots, I think they’ve just adjusted how I push the game out to people, and try to minimise the stigma that still exists in the golf world.
Any favourite trick shots that anyone can try?
Yeah, I always think something super simple is stacking a ball on top of another and hitting the bottom one, which propels the ball on top straight up and you can catch it or try to hit it out of the air. I think kick-up trick shots and then hitting it out the air with a driver are simple. Have someone throw you a ball and hit it out the air – that’s always satisfying… although someone throwing a ball to you isn’t always simple. Everything else I’d probably have to show you in person how to do – they just get more and more complicated from here [laughs].
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Future goals in the sport?
I want to eventually build an academy, potentially junior-focused but also up to college age. There are a lot of specific details for it that I won’t go into detail about, but I do believe the current way we’re building clinics can be improved.
Favourite places to play?
Titrangi, Muriwai, The Hills, Jack’s Point, Tara Iti, Troon North (both courses), Desert Mountain (Outlaw course), Monarch Beach… I really have so many favourites that I’m probably blanking on a lot right now.
What makes New Zealand so special for golf?
Definitely the landscape – for both exciting course design and spectacular views – and the relaxed nature of New Zealand golf courses. You can do an incredible trip around NZ and see almost a different landscape on every course you play, whether it’s a beachside course, links-style, treelined, cliffside – NZ really has it all when it comes to a variety of playing experiences. I feel privileged to have grown up there. I also think Kiwis are just generally friendly so the idea of private-club culture is a lot less significant, feel-wise, there. It makes for a much more relaxed experience.
• Check out Tania’s dazzling trick-shot compilation at https://www.instagram.com/taniatare63