Virginie “Ginnie” Ding Wai-chung is ready to take the steps to become Hong Kong’s next big female golf star.
The 15-year-old West Island School student compares herself to a lion when she’s on the golf course. “I am very passionate about the sport, and I sometimes get mad when I’m on the course. I’d say it’s very intimidating.”
Like a lion, Ginnie is extremely confident in her abilities – and her confidence comes from her incredible work ethic.
“I train four to five hours a day on different golf skills on weekdays followed by an hour-long gym session,” she said.
She spends most of her weekends – both Saturday and Sunday – doing on-course training. “[My coach and I] cover long and short game technique, and do drills to enhance skills that will be useful in future games,” she said.
Ginnie was selected to take part in the China National Games back in September, which cemented her status as one of Hong Kong’s best young golfers.
“Getting selected to [play in] the national games was the proudest moment of my golf career; it was the first step to accomplishing my dream,” said Ginnie, who has been playing golf since she was four years old.
She gave an excellent performance and managed to finish third in the Hong Kong Ladies Close Amateur 2018, despite going up against players of university age.
“I felt like I gained so much experience there and could not be prouder of myself,” she said.
“There was a lot of pressure for this tournament because it was my first time playing in a tournament against [players] who were a lot older than me.
“I was really put out of my comfort zone, but my coach reminded me to ‘always trust your swing’. I would remind myself of this during tense moments which helped calm my nerves and build my confidence.”
Despite her strong performance against the more experienced players, Ginnie is never really happy with anything but first place. “It felt bittersweet,” Ginnie said of her third-place finish. “I knew that I played well and I was proud of myself, but I didn’t make it to the top where I would’ve liked to be. Still, it was a great experience.”
As she approaches her GCSE exams, Ginnie is all too aware that becoming a successful athlete is extremely difficult in a city like Hong Kong, in which students are expected to maintain high grades in school.
“Balancing school work and golf practice has definitely been the hardest part,” she said. “I have to forego a lot of other things throughout the day. Sometimes I feel like I don’t have any time to breathe.”
However, this busy schedule has taught Ginnie valuable time-management skills and techniques.
“I’ve learned to use timetables and journals to prioritise my time and make sure I am on top of everything I need to do every day,” explained the Year 11 student.
Ginnie acknowledged that the encouragement of her family has also proved essential to her success.
“They are always there to help and support me, and help me manage my time for tournaments training and studying which makes life much easier.
“As of right now, my role model is my sister who is always there to support me even though she has almost zero knowledge [of] the game of golf,” Ginnie added.
She’s always there to push me to be better and has a really strong and positive mindset towards everything.”
Ginnie is looking ahead to the HK Junior Close Championship 2018 – one of the city’s biggest tournaments – later in April.
And in the longer term, she is hoping to get a golf scholarship to a university, and possibly even a professional career.
Ginnie believes that with her family by her side, there is no limit to what she can achieve.