ALOR STAR: While most children her age are glued to gizmos and gadgets with a bag of chips in hand, Mehekpreet Kaur Randhawa’s daily routine is slightly different.
The 8-year-old girl from Kedah, a rising star in golf, heads for the greens for training.
Ever since picking up the game less than a year ago, her weekly schedule involved a day’s training with her coach and an additional two days with her mum.
“But normally, about 10 days before a tournament, I train for about four hours daily and get to bed before 8pm.”
It all started when Mehek-preet’s was in Year One.
“My father (Sharanpal Singh Randhawa) wanted me to pick up a sport. As he plays hockey, I suggested that I would take up the sport. Instead, he told me to pick up an individual sport.
“He reasoned that if I played an individual sport, it was all on me. If I am good, I am good. But if I am not good, then I am not. Basically, I will have no one to blame if I failed.
“After thinking about it, I realised that it was true. My next option was golf, since my grandfather (Pritpal Singh) played the game too,” she said.
To her and her family’s surprise, the student of SK Convent here showed great promise in her first week of training.
“I was encouraged and excited when my coach said I had a lot of potential.
“My dad said if I wanted to keep playing golf, I had to be serious as lessons are not cheap.
“I told him, yes, I want to take up golf seriously. And the rest, as they say, is history.”
Her parents and her 72-year-old grandfather have been an inspiration. So does golfing legend Tiger Woods.
“My mother (Kulwinderjeet Kaur) always reminds me that if I have the will and dedication, nothing is impossible. My grandfather gives me advice and precious tips and pointers on the game. He tells me that I must always be confident and adopt a ‘can-do’ attitude.
“Tiger is also my inspiration. I watch him play on television and YouTube all the time. I love his fearless but intelligent approach towards the game. I can only dream of becoming like him. But my dad says everything starts with a dream. So there is hope, I guess.”
Now that she has started on the right foot, Mehekpreet hopes to make it into the big leagues by turning pro before 15.
“I know I have my parents’ full support if I want to go pro, but they have not put any pressure on me yet.
“It’s still in my early days, and I hope things will end the way my parents and I had wished for.”
Mehekpreet said her parents reminded her to be the best in what she did.
“They say nobody remembers the number two.”
In keeping with the true spirit of Malaysia, the wunderkind said she is proud to represent the country.
“I want to make Malaysia proud. I was indeed proud to see my name at the top of the leaderboard for three days at the Hainan China tournament (Malaysian Leg) at Glenmarie recently. And I was prouder to see the Jalur Gemilang hoisted above the rest during the flag-raising medal ceremony.
“I want to see and feel that more often. Like what my idols, Datuk Nicol David and Datuk Lee Chong Wei, had done in squash and badminton .”
With more than eight trophies under her belt, what’s her mantra before a game?
“I do feel nervous before a game, but my parents always tell me to take a deep breath, relax and pray. I do that and it helps. During a bad tee off on the second day of the Hainan China tournament, the tee off ball landed on another fairway about 120 yards from the green I was supposed to hole. I panicked and almost cried.
“Fortunately, my dad, who is also my caddy, told me to stay focused. So I took my seven-iron and gave it my best shot. I watched in wonder as it went through the trees and landed just short of the green — I recovered with a par four. So I guess it’s true what they say about being relaxed.”
Mehekpreet also talked about following a healthy lifestyle.
“Like other kids, I love finger food, sweets and fast food. But my mum is strict about my diet, and only prepares for me healthy home-cooked meals. I also cycle and lift lightweights to keep my legs and hands strong.”
On which she would choose, golf or academics, the student who ranked first in her school’s entire Year One last year said she would choose both.
“I love golf and I love my studies too. I want both to go hand-in-hand.
“Eventually, I want to be a professional golfer and a doctor. My friends, teachers and my past and current headmasters at SK Convent have always encouraged me. In fact, during assembly after every competition, I’m called up on stage to receive the prize again.
“My classmates who hardly know anything about golf cheer and clap loudly. It really feels so good. They are proud of my accomplishments, but I don’t think I am famous.
“What I love most about sports is that it doesn’t matter what race, religion or age you are, it always bring us together, as players and supporters. The bond transcends skin colour, language and faith.”