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Cara hitting form on and off the course

by | Feb 12, 2024

Randpark’s sweet-swinging Cara Ford was in top gear for both the Strokeplay and the Match Play in last week’s South African Women’s Amateur Championships at Modderfontein.

First up was the 54-hole Strokeplay in which she put together rounds of 73, 74 and 71 for a 218 aggregate to finish a creditable third behind Kyra van Kan of Silver Lakes and Kesha Louw from Mount Edgecombe.

Then in the Match Play, restricted to the top 32 finishers in the Strokplay, Cara raced through her first three matches in style – beating Shannon Butler from Ruimsig, Crystal Beukes from Stellenbosch GC and Zane Kleynhans from Centurion – to make the semi-finals.

“Shannon’s a best friend,” Cara explained, “but we were in a fight out on the course and I lost the par-5 first hole where I found the water. I bounced back by winning the second then at the seventh she hit her approach so stiff I conceded the putt for birdie which meant I had to hole from about four metres or so just to get a half.” Then Cara got super hot. She not only birdied the eighth but made four birdies in a row from holes 10 to 13 to ultimately win 5 and 4!

“Against Crystal, also a good friend, I started off a bit rocky but it was a match in which I was able to make quite a few long putts.” And that resulted in a convincing 6 and 5 victory for Randpark’s whizkid.

“Next up was Zane and I was terrified! Not only had she just won the Border and EP Open days before the SA Champs, but last year she thrashed me 7 and 6 in the IPT. But I started the match with an eagle at the first hole – drive, four-iron onto the green and 4m putt. So I was one up but she never made it easy for me and we were all square through nine.” Then at the long par-4 15th Cara hit the shot of the week, a four-iron that she had to play with a hook to get to the green, her ball finishing just inches from the cup for a tap-in birdie. From then on she did well to keep calm under pressure to win 2 and 1.

Cara then lost to Olivia Wood (Umhlali) in the semis, with Wood in turn going down to Gia Raad (Country Club Johannesburg) in the Match Play final.

Reflecting on her solid performance in the Strokeplay, Cara said her 71 in round three was particularly memorable. “I birdied all the par-5s! But I also got stuck in the trees at the sixth hole. I made some bad choices and only got out of the trees with my fifth shot before making a really good up and down for a triple-bogey seven!”

Cara’s fine showing in the SA Championships nearly didn’t happen as she was on the point of withdrawing at the start of the week because of a painful abscess. Her form is also a hangover from a pretty good 2023 in which she notched up eight top 10s in national tournaments countrywide. “My dedication and hard work are important but also I’m in a better head space thanks to my high-performance coach Nico.”

If Cara has been playing some good golf, she has also excelled in the classroom. She is in her final year of study towards a PGA National Diploma and, as part of the Ernie Els and Fancourt Foundation, she was honoured with the Foundation’s top 2024 award for Outstanding Academic Achievement. “They give out two awards each year, one for best player and one for best academic which was me and I was flown to Fancourt to receive the award. In the Diploma you learn about all sorts of things related to golf. Not just coaching and technology but retail, law, sports science, business and a whole host of things. I’ve been getting top marks and I feel I’ve excelled.”

That’s Cara for you. Top achiever on the course (her best rounds at Randpark – 66 on Firethorn and 67 on Bushwillow) and off the course. Clearly, she looks to have a great future in the game.

Written by Randpark member Grant Winter
Photo Credit: GolfRSA



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