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13th October 2014 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Eaton primed for SA Open


Nicola Eaton Gutzeit recently laid down her clubs and stepped off the tee to tie the knot at a magical Ballito wedding in May of this year.


The wedding bells soon melted into beach shells as she was whisked off on a romantic honeymoon in Zanzibar. But with the Cell C SA Women’s Open just days away, it’s time to swap the garters for golf clubs and get back into the swing of things.


Big competitions are always an emotional rollercoaster and Eaton admits to getting both wildly nervous and terribly excited when a competition is coming up.


“We don’t have a lot of tournaments here, so when they come around you want to make sure you take your chances,” she said.


Eaton is pulling out all the stops with her training regime.


Being a Port Shepstone local, she’s fortunate to live close to San Lameer, the course where the SA Women’s Open will be taking place from 16-19 October.


Eaton has utilised the beneficial location of her abode to train on the course and get to know the conditions. She cautions that the strong coastal winds are always a factor when playing down south, “Depending on what the wind’s doing the course can play very differently,” she said.


“I’m sure everyone will be keeping an eye out, not only for the tail end of the whale watching season, but also for what the weather reports predict.


Eaton says the SA Women’s Open is a firm favourite. “It’s on our local territory and we will have lots of support!”


This year marks 29-year-old Eaton’s third start in the SA Women’s Open. Not only is it one of the highest profile tournament on the Sunshine Ladies Tour circuit, but she also enjoys the way the players are looked after.


“Because the Cell C SA Women’s Open is co-sanctioned between the WPGA and the Ladies European Tour, it’s a really big deal and you really do get treated like you’re VIP,” she said.


Golfing genes run deep in the Eaton family.


Both her parents played golf at a high level and her mom was still playing professionally when Nicola and her twin sister Melissa were born.


The twins were both selected for the Ernie Els & Fancourt Foundation, which was immensely beneficial for both their golf game and education. Then Nicola and Melissa both ended up at Louisiana State University on full golf scholarships in 2003.


“The ambition to become pro was always there, but it wasn’t in the forefront of my mind,” Eaton said. “First was first going to University, though.”


Her skills grew to challenge the best and she found herself playing on the Futures Tour, now known as the Symetra Tour, the feeder Tour for the LPGA Tour. Eaton played for about two years before the lack of sponsorship forced her home in 2010.


Eaton coaches at the Hillbillion driving range, close to Shelly Beach, as well as at her home course, the Port Shepstone Country Club. She invests most of her time in teaching, but still plays the local Sunshine Ladies Tour. She is an outdoor enthusiast and adventure-nut. She endeavours to remain open to anything.


“Live life to the fullest and experience everything you can that comes into your life,” she believes.


She’s also hard at work setting up a golf development programme for kids.


“To give back to the game through the kids will be very rewarding and I hope to watch them grow and see them do well.”


What about the sibling rivalry between the twins?


“We are both a great source of competition and support for one another and we can’t wait to both be coming down the 18th in the final group and battling it out for that trophy!”


Written by Adam Dore, Publicity Matters
Edited by Lali Stander for WPGA and Sunshine Ladies Tour.
PHOTO – Nicole Eaton Gutzeit & Melissa Eaton; credit Rogan Ward