At the age of 22, Clarisse Louis has been playing golf for 17 years. "I've been playing since I was five and a half years old. When I was little, I used to go with my parents every weekend to their golf club and I stayed at the golf day-care centre. Initiated by her father, she gradually developed a taste for it: "I started to enjoy golf because I was winning. I won my first competition with all the youngsters in Belgium at the age of 7 without really realising what it was. Then I took part in my first Belgium-Dutch match at the age of 9. The challenge, the surpassing of oneself and the team spirit, these are the aspects that made me love golf.
Clarisse is a third-year student at the Solvay Business School of the Université Libre de Bruxelles and also has a job as a student in a scale-up company. In addition to golf, she plays hockey and coaches two teams every week: "These are my two passions: I play golf with great pleasure (on average 15 hours a week), but I couldn't do without hockey. I've made a lot of sacrifices to keep playing it because it gives me a certain balance.
The big dream is the Olympics, but unfortunately this is out of reach for the time being: "Golf is only for professionals, which is contradictory because the Olympics were originally created for amateurs," says the player who, once she has her diploma, will have to decide whether to launch a career as a professional or remain an amateur. "My short-term ambitions are to finish my studies in two years and get back into the world's top 100. I was 49th (my best ranking) at the end of 2018," says the current number 1 amateur.
The key to climbing the rankings? Playing in international tournaments. Her latest tournament was the Augusta National Women's Amateur in early April in the US state of Georgia. This is one of the most prestigious amateur tournaments, bringing together the 72 best players in the world. The pressure, the lack of training because of Covid and the time difference, it was a difficult tournament for the player. But that doesn't stop her from pursuing her ambitions and dreaming big. Her favourite mantra, which she notes at the beginning of each of her notebooks, is: "If your dreams don't scare you, then they're not big enough.
A precious support
Clarisse continues: "My next targets are a pro tournament at the end of June in Belgium and the European Championships in Ireland at the end of July. As a member of the Rigenée golf club (Villers-la-Ville), Clarisse has access to all golf courses as a member of the national team. Approached by Degroof Petercam Luxembourg, she benefits from an annual contract since 2018. This financial support not only allows her to participate in international competitions and to get equipment from golf suppliers, but also gives her opportunities that she would probably not have had otherwise.
The right attitude
If she had one piece of advice for parents of children who play golf, it would be: "Don't get in over your head and let your child play. The right attitude is that they should enjoy themselves, that's what will help them to play golf well. And the younger you start, the better! "What are the values that golf has passed on to her? "The fact of being outside, in connection with nature, brings serenity. Even if it is a sport that can bring a lot of dissatisfaction, it has taught me perseverance and that is a value that will serve me all my life. During the course of a journey, you grow, you learn, as my father often tells me. This is what has made me what I am today," concludes Clarisse with a smile.