15 June 2019

His Amateur Journey Goes On

Over the last five years, Naraajie Emerald Ramadhan Putra has traveled from one tournament to another. However, for the past three, Naraajie has made it into the inner circle of the national golf elite thanks to his sparkling achievements. The 19-year-old player has not only triumphed in national tournaments but also in the international arena. 

His most recent achievement was as the lowest amateur at the 2019 OB Golf Invitational. This is his fifth title on the Asian Development Tour, and sixth title in an international professional tournament. Despite becoming the Indonesian amateur number one, Naraajie is still not satisfied with his achievements to date and is pursuing even bigger goals. 

Naraajie talked to OB Golf about his experience at some prestigious events and the lessons he learned from them, his golf obsessions, and the decision to turn professional.

When did you start playing golf?
I played golf since I was 7 years old. At that time, my parents introduced the sport to me. Initially, I played motorbike cross but because I was too young and the sport was too dangerous for my age, my parents encouraged me to play golf.

What made you like golf?
Golf is more challenging and is an individual sport. So, at that time I was thinking, ‘it’s an individual sport, win and lose, I face it myself.’ There is no dependence on other people and there is also no burden when playing.

As a junior, did you ever feel bored with golf and turn to other sports?
Yes, I experienced that. I had a chance to pursue baseball at the age of 11-13. My friends played baseball more, so I joined in. At that time, I was really bored playing golf because I practiced alone in Bandung. No friends. I decided to join another sport.

Why did you return to golf?
In 2014 I returned to playing golf because I felt there’s something missing. Then, I met friends who are serious in golf like Almay (Rayhan Yaquta) and others. From there, we began traveling together. After traveling, I didn't think I wanted to go to school. I always want to travel. I also decided to be serious with golf and quit normal school.

You have won various tournaments. Which title is the most memorable for you?
The 2014 Junior National Championship. At that time, I was only 13 years old. In the tournament, there was Jason Martinus, (Joshua) Andrew Wirawan, and other senior players. I managed to win and I was very happy. I got a spot to play at the 2014 Indonesian Masters.

The 3rd Series of the IGT in 2018. It was the first time I won a pro tournament as an amateur. I had finished 2nd and 3rd a few times in the previous years. Being able to win over professional players was very impressive to me. 

SEA Games in 2017. At that time, we were playing matchplay team event for bronze. We were facing the Philippines team to win it. Our three players faced their three players. When I played, our score was a draw 1-1 so I had to win to get a medal. I was 2-up before 17, then on the 17th, I was defeated. Score: 1-up. On hole 18, I had trouble and had to go up and down from a distance of 30 meters, then I had a par-putt from a distance of two meters and the ball went in. Indonesia won bronze at that time. It was the first time I won a medal for Indonesia and at my first SEA Games.

How do you feel about competing in the name of your country? 
I was very proud. I can be the choice of the country to bring Indonesian names abroad. Many people want to bring the name of Indonesia and I’m very grateful to get the opportunity.

At the 2018 Asian Games, many people hoped that you could win a medal for the host. However, the results were not as expected. How was your game at that time?
The game actually went well. My first day I was three-under-par and became the leader in the morning. The second day, I played in the afternoon schedule and had difficulty with the wind, so I could only play even-par. The third day, I struggled with my putting. Because the motivation to win was too much, I looked at the live board too often and that seems to affect my game. My preparations before the Asian Games were arguably very good. I was prepared for the 2018 Asian Games, however, I slipped on the third day.

Two years ago, you were selected for the international junior team that competed in the junior President Cup. What did you get out of taking part in this? 
I got a lot of experience. One was I walked the course when the President Cup (senior) event was on. I met Tiger Woods, Jason Day, Adam Scott, Jordan Spieth, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, and many more. They provided tips on how to become them. They said that golf is not easy and we have to work hard if we want to succeed.

Are there many differences between competing in amateur tournaments and professional tournaments?
Competition in professional events is very strict. In professional tournaments, the status of the players is mostly professional. Their game is indeed really professional. They are good because the difference in one stroke on the course is very valuable. That’s why competing in professional tournaments feels more serious.

What is your motivation when playing in professional tournaments?
The main goal is to win. I want to prove that amateurs can also win in pro tournaments. This is also to motivate other amateurs/juniors that as Indonesian amateurs we should be able to compete.

Last year you joined the Indonesian Golf Tour team in the tournament against the PGM Malaysia team. What was your impression of that event?
It’s fun. Along with Indonesian professionals, I could fight against Malaysian professionals. Many lessons are taken, as a team and individual, especially that mentally I must be strong.

What is your target that you want to achieve as an amateur?
My targets are to win at the Pacific Asia Amateur and reach the Top 30 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking. Hopefully, this will be achieved this year.

Many have wondered whether you will turn professional. What do you think?
The question is still far from my mind. I haven't thought about that yet. I still want to develop my experience as an amateur and prepare mentally to become a pro player. Playing as a professional player is not easy. People think you just turn pro - that’s it.

Are you still studying?
I am currently studying at the PGA International Golf Institute of Australia. The learning method is online so it doesn't bother my focus on golf.

So, you don’t wish to be like others who continue their education in the US and at the same time sharpen their golf skills?
No. If amateurs want to get their education and play golf there, that is a very good choice for them and it also teaches them to be independent. However, I  have chosen another path. 

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