Teen golf superstar Virginie Ding on qualifying for the US Girls’ Junior, balancing sports and school, and setting her sights beyond Hong Kong

Teen golf superstar Virginie Ding on qualifying for the US Girls’ Junior, balancing sports and school, and setting her sights beyond Hong Kong

The West Island Student is focused on her goal of playing at the international college level and has received an offer from Vanderbilt University

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Virginie admits she once felt “invincible”, but later realised that’s no reason not to keep working hard.
Photo courtesy of Virginie Ding

Young Post has spoken to Virginie “Ginnie” Ding Wai-chung several times over the last two years. She has been has been something  of an up-and-coming local golf star to be reckoned with for a while, but now she wants to be cream of the crop in more that just our city. 

When the teenager was featured on our pages for the first time in 2017, she had already claimed multiple titles in the junior tournaments in Hong Kong, and was already seen as a rising star in the sport. Looking back at her achievements at the time, the 16-year-old admits she had felt invincible.

“When I was 14 or 15, I really thought I  was the best, but later I realised I needed to work a lot harder if I wanted to expand to the international stage,” Ginnie explained. The fairway from local golf star to world-class player has been somewhat rough. After getting a taste for victory in Hong Kong, it was a blow to her confidence when she lost against golfers from overseas in higher level tournaments. 

The West Island School student with her trophy from last year’s International Junior Golf Championship.
Photo courtesy of Virginie Ding

The loss left her feeling disheartened, and she began to doubt her ability to compete outside the city. “I once thought maybe I should’ve stayed at the local level to be an okay player,” she said.  “But no, I told myself that I must power through those bad moments.”

The West Island School student learned the importance of finding ways to her restore self-confidence. “I have a problem with thinking negatively, and not having confidence. So as part of my training, I have to do some psychology training to have greater faith in myself,” she said. 

“The night before my competition, I make sure I have at least nine hours of sleep,” she added. “I also list out all the achievements I’ve had in my career so far, to remind myself of my own abilities.”

The boost in self-esteem she gained from her training has proven to be beneficial to her performance, especially when she qualified to play in the US Girls’ Junior last summer, an event she describes as “a battle of the champions”.  “For a few years, I’ve been trying to get into this tournament, and I finally did it last year,” said Ginnie. 

“It was such a memorable competition, because I worked towards it for a really  long time.”  Since then, she has been making headway in national and regional competitions, including bagging the Women’s A Group champion trophy at The Zhang Lianwei Cup International Junior Golf Macau Open 2018 in November,  and topping the Girls A Division ranking at the Pondok Indah International Junior Golf Championship 2018 in Jakarta, Indonesia, in December.

Virginie Ding came in seceond place in the Girls'' Division at the JGTA Hong Kong Junior Classic.
Photo: Kelly Ho/SCMP

She also took second place at the JGTA Hong Kong Junior Classic in Clearwater Bay in February.  These recent breakthroughs have brought Ginnie closer to her goal of playing at US college level – she has received an offer of a golf scholarship from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, the capital of US state Tennessee. 

To seal the deal at the end of this year, Ginnie must stay on top of her golf training and competitions, as well as her academics. This may sound a bit overwhelming, especially if you consider sports to be an extra burden on students who have already stressful lives, yet the prospective Vanderbilt undergraduate sees it as quite the opposite. 

“I don’t really see golf as something I have to do, but rather something I want to do. The key to balancing golf and studying is to manage my time well.” The Year 12 student is excited to kick off her college career.

Still, she’s aware of the hurdles she’ll face, namely the stark difference between the college training schedule and the one she’s adopted in Hong Kong. Instead of training for long hours a few days a week, she will have practise every single day, for less time.

“I will have to work with the increased amount of training, it’s going to be more rigorous,” she said. “But that’s definitely what  I want to be doing.”

Edited by Nicole Moraleda


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This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Goal in full swing

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