By Michael Davis
AN extremely talented 12-year-old from country Victoria has become the youngest player to win the Ladies’ Championship at Commonwealth Golf Club.
But that’s only part of Olive Spitty’s story.
She stepped out in the first round of the senior pennant season and won her match 3&1 against the Heritage Golf and Country Club.
Commonwealth got wind of Olive, who hails from Lake Charm, a quiet country hamlet between Kerang and Swan Hill, after she won her club championship at Kerang on two occasions.
She was invited to join the Commonwealth’s junior scholarship squad.
Olive was only 11 when she won the championship for the first time at her home club, Kerang, a member-maintained course with grass greens.
More recently, since she has started playing tougher Melbourne courses, she has been playing at Murray Downs, which runs alongside the Murray River, just over the border from Swan Hill.
“It prepares us better for when we come to Melbourne,” said Olive’s proud father, Andrew, who plays off +2.
Olive first started swinging a golf club in the backyard when she was two.
“We didn’t really go out onto the golf course at Kerang until she was six,” Andrew said. “She’s had a handicap since she was seven. She’s been progressing since then and now her official handicap is 0.9.”
Olive won the club championship at Kerang on two occasions – shooting 73 the first time and 72 (a new course record) last year.
“They (Commonwealth Golf club officials) were telling her last year they were looking for an extra pennant player in Division 1 and that there was an opportunity there. But she would have to play against some pretty good, much older golfers,” Andrew added.
“She won her first match 3&1 against a lady who was much older than her and she was very impressed with the way Olive played and managed herself on the course.”
Meanwhile, Olive is taking it all in her stride.
“She’s really just a normal, humble kid,” her father said. “What she really loves is travelling to Melbourne and playing all the different golf courses.
“She still does team sports – netball, basketball athletics. She enjoys them all. Her driving, pitching and putting are really good. I struggle to keep up with her. It won’t be much longer before she goes past me.”
Renowned golf coach Dale Lynch sees Olive once a month in Melbourne and is impressed by her natural ability.
Although she has a relatively low profile, Olive has already featured on Golf Australia’s podcast after winning her first championship at Kerang.
Although only 12, Olive’s ambition is to play on the LPGA Tour.
Her father is not getting ahead of himself though. He says his daughter is enjoying the game and “we’ll just keep going along and see what happens”.
Should she realise her dream, Olive may have a willing caddie or perhaps a fellow touring professional in the elder of her two younger sisters, Mabel. The nine-year-old has just started playing the game and already has an official handicap of 28.
In the meantime, we suspect the galleries at Commonwealth pennant matches will continue to swell once the word gets fully out about Olive Spitty, the young golfing prodigy who has just landed on the club’s doorstep.