Getting to know local superstar golfer Melissa Eaton

2018-03-15 06:00
South Coast golden girl Melissa Eaton in her element.PHOTO: FACEBOOK

South Coast golden girl Melissa Eaton in her element.PHOTO: FACEBOOK

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MELISSA Eaton is the South Coast’s golden girl in women’s golf and although she has since relocated to Gauteng due to her career success, she says she will always be a “Sheppie girl.”

Eaton is currently on the Sunshine Ladies tour which was showcased at San Lameer golf estate as well as the Wild Coast Sun country club in recent weeks, and continues at the Westlake Golf club in Cape Town.

She grew up in Port Shepstone and attended primary and secondary school in the area as well.

She also spent two years at Creston College when the school first opened.

“I grew up with my mother, Colleen Eaton, along with my twin sister Nicola and I have an older sister Andrea. We are all very close, and all athletes.”

I started playing golf at age 12 mostly because my mother owned the golf shop at Port Shepstone Country Club. My twin sister and I would always be at the golf course so we decided to take it up,” said Eaton.

Since then, Eaton has achieved a long list of accolades in her golfing career, including runner-up at the Sun International Ladies Challenge (2015), Dimension Data Ladies Pro Ann (2015), Ladies Tshwane Open (2015), Supersport Ladies Challenge (2017) as well as the South African Women’s Masters (2018).

Pursuing a career as a professional golfer has, however, not all been a bed of roses, says Eaton.

“The biggest challenge in my career has been the financial obligation that comes with the sport. We earn at least 10 times less money then our male counterparts and yet our expenses are the same.

“We don’t have as many opportunities either in terms of having a year-long tour here in South Africa to play and so we are very grateful for just the three month’s swing we now have which seems to be getting stronger and growing. It’s so important for us to have this tour to gain experience, sharpen our skill set and expose women’s golf in our country,” said Eaton.

As a result, Eaton had to make a hard decision to stop playing full time in 2016.

“Financially, I couldn’t afford to support myself and sponsors are few and far between so I took up the position as assistant golf director at Parkview Golf Course in 2016 and then got promoted to full golf director in 2017.

“I resigned since [in December 2017] to start teaching golf full time at Parkview Golf Course, alongside fellow Women’s Professional Golf Association pro Tandi McCallum.”

Moving to Johannesburg, she says, was the best move she could have made for her career.

“I was still playing on the Ladies European Tour so for travel it was the easiest, plus the weather all-year round in Johannesburg is great for golf. I also started working with my team at the High Performance Centre in Pretoria who were fantastic in helping me,” said Eaton.

The highlight of her career, she says, was when she won the 2013 Symetra Tour in the United States of America.

“This came after a very difficult period in my life so it was a very monumental time for me after everything.”

When she is not collecting medals on the golf course, Eaton enjoys working out, the outdoors and watching series.

“I love working out and am starting to get into Crossfit. I went to a couple of Crossfit Wild Coast sessions with my sister Nicola and they are so awesome, really such a great bunch of people.

“I also love the outdoors, trying new things and game reserves, or if I’m on a rest day I enjoy just catching up on one of my series.”

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