Q&A With Golf Champion Darae Chung

Darae Chung from Chilton Saint James School is one of New Zealand’s leading age group golfers having recently won the New Zealand Age Group Championships at Millbrook Resort, Arrowtown. Chung shot -10 in winning her maiden national title by a single stroke.  Her scores in each round were: 69 (-3), 65 (-7) and 72 (even).

When did you start playing golf?

I started playing golf when I was 10 years old in April 2014. At this point I actually didn’t like playing golf, however I found the fun in competing in tournaments after I was unexpectedly invited to play one. Our team won a competition and that gave me more motivation to play.

Who are your coaches and mentors? How have they helped in your success? 

My coach at the moment is Matthew Lane who won New Zealand Open in 1998. He has helped me understand the game more when I feel lost. As for mentors, I haven’t really come across a “mentor” as such but I have a team who closely work around me like Wellington golf, a mental trainer, physiotherapist, nutritionist and fitness trainer. There is a team from Korea that comes to Wellington during the summer because at that time in Korea it’s winter so you can’t really train. They have helped me immensely on how to practice with grit and without complaint. My parents are also one of the biggest contributors to my game, they helped me start and also helped me be able to grow into the golfer I am today.

Tell us about NZ Age group champs which you won?

The age group championship is one of the biggest tournaments in New Zealand, my win is one of my biggest career achievements so far. Some big names have won this tournament and it’s also quite special because you can’t win this tournament after you turn 19. The course played to an extremely good standard as it’s a world class facility. The key moments in my success were probably how calm I was under pressure and coming into the tournament after a strong performance at the secondary schools championship. I really believed I could win. The toughest competitor was probably the overnight leader at the time Fiona Xu. She played really well for the first two days however she cracked under pressure and fortunately I was able to get the upper hand.

What are some of your achievements in golf?

I have been to Orlando, Florida and competed in a major championship invitational. It was hosted by Nick Faldo and I was invited by Annika Sorenstam to compete in the tournament. I came third overall and my team came first overall. This was a very special memory for me and probably one I can never forget. Faldo and Sorenstam were both ranked number one in the world during their careers.

What’s the hardest thing about playing golf?

The hardest thing is how one day you can be world number one and the next day you could legitimately be playing like a weekend hacker. This in itself kind of scares me as I don’t like things that are inconsistent. I feel like golf is a little bit of hard work, luck and also a strong mental game mixed together, but you never really know at what time this will all come together which could also be the charming point of this game.

What are your goals until the end of the year and in the future?

My goal right now is to play well in an upcoming tournament in Australia, win the New Zealand amateur and also increase my ranking. In the future, I’d like to play extremely well in the US amateur and be able to get into the Asia Pacific team.

What are your hobbies outside of golf?

My hobbies are reading books, listening to music, dancing and hanging out with my friends. I don’t play any other sports these days, but I used to do Taekwondo and hip hop dance.