RISING TO THE CHALLENGE
Golf Monthly|October 2021
Elliott Heath describes the thrill of playing with the pros at Round 1 of the Aramco Team Series
Elliott Heath

It’s not very often you get the chance to compete in a professional golf event, so I could hardly believe it when I was offered the opportunity to play in the Aramco Team Series on the Lady's European Tour. This unique tournament made its debut at the Centurion Club in July, with 36 teams of four comprising three professionals and one amateur. The huge $1m purse was split into $800,000 for the team prize and $200,000 for the individual prize.

I was over the moon to find out I would be on Team Hewson with captain Alice Hewson, who only a couple of weeks prior had finished as the leading female at the Scandinavian Mixed. Alice only turned pro at the start of 2020 after attending Clemson University in South Carolina and won her first event at the South African Women’s Open. She also had a glittering amateur career, highlighted by two Curtis Cup appearances and a T10 at the inaugural Augusta National Women’s Amateur.

I did begin to get my hopes up after finding out that my captain was one of Europe’s most promising players. Also on the team was the talented 22-year-old Norwegian Karoline Lund, who went to the same school as Viktor Hovland, and South Africa’s Lejan Lewthwaite, who has three victories on the Sunshine Ladies Tour.

Interestingly, it was Karoline who Alice picked in the draft on a Tuesday evening, despite the two having never met. After doing her homework with her dad, she noticed that Karoline’s birdie average was one of the best on tour in the weeks leading up to the tournament. Surprisingly, she didn’t just pick a mate as a partner, giving a glimpse into her competitive nature.

There was also a moment where I joked to Alice that I’d hole my ten-footer if she holed her six-footer for birdie. She said, “I’m holing mine no matter what,” before calmly rolling it in. That’s the moment I realized she has a mindset that really can take her to the top of the game.

First-tee nerves

Before arriving at the course I was feeling sick with nerves and the first tee shot was akin to my drive-in when I was junior captain around 12 years ago. The opening drive at Centurion doesn’t suit my eye as a fader – the dogleg-left par-5 is set up for a draw, with trees left and bunkers right. When I got to the top of my backswing I was just trying to make contact and I proceeded to carve it into the trees.

I was delighted to see my ball in the semi-rough after a fortunate bounce and managed to make a regulation par on the opener to settle the nerves.

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