The UAE is a hotbed for talented youngsters right now. Rayhan Thomas holds a World Record for the most consecutive birdies in an Official World Golf Ranking event, whilst Dubai-born Josh Hill blew away the field on the Emirates Golf Federation’s Order of Merit last year at the tender age of 14. In this month’s local focus, we turn our attention to the Gupta twins. The pair were born and raised in Dubai and have bucket loads of golfing talent to match their big personalities. Natalii walked away with the EGF’s Order of Merit title last season for the Women’s Gross Division whilst Arjun went toe-to-toe with Josh as he finished second in the Order of Merit amongst a plethora of the UAE’s best players. We caught up with the twin sensations at Jumeirah Golf Estates to find out their story.

Worldwide Golf: When was the first time you played golf?

Arjun Gupta: I always used to hit balls with plastic clubs around the house from a young age but I didn’t start playing with proper clubs until I was six years old. My father bought me my first set of clubs and he took me and Natalii over to The Address Montgomerie where we played on a course for the first time.

WWG: You finished second behind Josh Hill in the Emirates Golf Federation Order of Merit last season. When we spoke to Josh he told us that it’s great having you pushing him to get better. Do you feel the same about your game?

AG: Yes, it was a great experience playing on the EGF Order of Merit, I learnt a lot about my game playing with some of the best players in the UAE. Me and Josh get on really well and are both very competitive with each other. Even when we practice we still try to beat each other! It’s great having him around.

WWG: What other highlights do you have from last season?

AG: I won the JGE Club Championship which was nice because I beat Josh in a play-off! I sunk a birdie putt when we replayed the 18th and Josh only managed par. We both set out to win that event so it was nice getting one over him.

WWG: If you could only choose one course to play on again in the UAE what would it be?

AG: It would probably have to be the Majlis course at Emirates Golf Club. It’s a tough golf course but it also rewards good play. There are plenty of chances to make a birdie if you play well. It’s also great because I try and learn from the pros when they come over for the Dubai Desert Classic. I try and look at where they play certain shots and the strategy they use and I try to implement that into my own game.

WWG: Who is your favourite player on the European Tour?

AG: It would have to be Rory McIlroy. I love his swing and ball striking and think he has one of the best attitudes in the game. I was lucky enough to have a lesson with him and he gave me some pointers on my game, which has really helped me progress.

WWG: What are your plans for next season?

AG: I’ll be joining the MENA Tour which I’m excited about. I’m not too sure what to expect as I’ve never played on the Tour before but I’m hoping to be in the top 10 or top 20 of the Order of Merit. That’s my goal.

WWG: What are your plans for after you finish your studies?

AG: If I’m good enough I would like to turn professional. If not, then I’ll move on to college. I like the look of Oklahoma State and Stanford but I’m not a massive fan of studying, especially maths! There are too many formulas and it takes too long. to work it all out, so, hopefully, if I keep working at my game, I can turn pro!

WWG: What do you think you need to improve to take your game to the next level?

AG: My short game is pretty good but I need to work on my long game so that I am more consistent, like the top professionals.

WWG: What do you like to do away from the course?

AG: We play a lot of different sports like football and table tennis but we mostly do a lot of swimming. I really enjoy getting in the pool and it’s lovely to cool down in hot weather in the UAE!

WWG: You’ve played in the Dubai Golf Trophy for the past two years, do you have any funny stories from those events?

AG: I’ve played against Mike Bolt and Luke Plumb three times and they can both get mad if things don’t go their way! Last year Luke hit a bad shot and he threw his clubs 50 yards, it was amusing to watch! They’re both good guys, though, and it’s great having that camaraderie with the pros out here.

WWG: What’s your current handicap and what goal are you aiming to get it to?

AG: I’m currently playing off +3. Tiger was playing off +8 when he turned pro at 18, which is crazy. I’m only 14 so I have some years left in me to try and reach that.

WWG: You finished first in the Ladies Gross Division on the EGF Order of Merit last year, how special was that win?

NG: It felt great to come out on top, especially as I was playing against women who have been playing the game a lot longer than I have. I really grew in confidence knowing that I could compete with some of the best golfers in the UAE.

WWG: Do you have any good friends that you have made on the EGF Order of Merit?

NG: I get on really well with Kate Bibby and we play together as much as we can. We are both very competitive but it’s healthy competition and we both push each other to play our best game.

WWG: If you could only play one course to play on again in the UAE what would it be?

NG: IT would have to be the Earth course, I’ve always shot my best scores here so it holds a special place in my heart. I carded five under par, which I was really happy with as it’s a challenging course and the world’s very best play on it at the DP World Tour Championship.

WWG: What’s your current handicap and what are you aiming to get to?  

NG: I’m playing off +1 right now but I’m hoping to improve on that as fast as I can so I can beat Arjun’s handicap! Hopefully, I can get it to +2 by the end of next season and we will see where I go from there.

WWG: What are your plans for next season? 

NG: I’m not sure what I’ll do next season yet but I’m hoping to get over to the US and Scotland next summer to play in the English Women’s Open and the Amateur Open. I’m not to sure how I feel about it yet but it will be an exciting opportunity.

WWG: Who are your favourite golfers?

NG: Michelle Wie and Lydia Ko. Lydia has accomplished so much in such a short amount of time in her career, it’s hard to believe that she is only 21, yet she has won so many of the big tournaments. She is a true inspiration for all young female golfers and her achievements spur me on every day.

WWG: What do you think you need to improve to take your game to the next level?

NG: I don’t hit the ball that far but I’m pretty accurate so that makes up for it. But it would be great if I could add some more distance to really take my game up a notch.

WWG: Who are you coached by?

NG: Me and Arjun are both coached by Justin Parsons. Justin is a really good coach who I have been working with for three years now and he really knows my game well and gives great tips on what I need to work on and how I can achieve that.

WWG: What are you plans when you finish studying?

NG: The main goal is to become a professional golfer. The women’s game is really strong at the moment with the Ladies European Tour and LPGA Tour boasting some high quality starts so it won’t be easy. But If I keep my head down and work hard anything can happen. If I didn’t make it as a pro I’d love to still be in the game as a coach or manager. That would be pretty cool.

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