01 May 2024

Natalii Gupta Q&A – The UAE teenager making waves in the local spotlight

Words by Will Kent and photography provided by Ahmed Oto & Andy Crook

In March, Dubai-born amateur Natalii Gupta finished the Clutch Pro Tour’s Al Hamra Championship in sixth place on two under par. It was a fantastic performance from the 19-year-old, who beat a host of professionals in the 54-hole event at Al Hamra Golf Club, where the development circuit made its debut in the UAE.

Then, last month the teenager won at the inaugural Optimas-JAGA International Series – Order of Merit Championship at the Al-Ain Equestrian, Shooting & Golf Club. It was another three day event which saw Gupta emerge victorious on one under par.

The youngster has been a highly-regarded prospect in the local amateur scene for a long time, and these latest triumphs have reinforced her obvious talent. We caught up with her to find out the latest on her recent wins, and to get the lowdown on all of her future plans.

WWG: You had a great win at the Clutch Pro Tour as well as recently on the JAGA. Talk me through the experience of playing and winning in such strong fields?

NG: Playing and winning in strong fields like those at the Clutch Tour and Jaga tournaments has been really rewarding. The experience of competing at this level pushes me to work hard and stay focused on the process rather than solely on the outcome. Each week, I aim to enjoy the journey of preparation and competition, embracing the challenge and learning from every round. I try to own this mindset that allows me to stay in the moment and fully engaged, ultimately leading to positive results.

WWG: What have you been working on to take your game to next level?

NG: Over the last six months, I’ve been focused on improving my game through consistent practice and play. I’ve dedicated a lot of attention to my approach play, particularly inside 150 yards. I’ve been participating in more tournaments recently and that has provided valuable opportunities to test and apply these improvements under competitive conditions, which is essential for growth and development in the game.

WWG: Do you now represent the UAE? If so, how cool is it to be able to represent the country?

NG: The Emirates Golf Federation is supporting my golf. It is a goal of mine to play and be able to represent the UAE, and I think that would be such a great opportunity.

Gupta, middle, pictured at her recent win at Al-Ain Equestrian, Shooting & Golf Club

WWG: Do you have any aspirations or plans to turn professional in the near future?

NG: For the coming three to five years I would like to keep my status as amateur, so I want to keep working on my game and testing myself in the most elite amateur events in the region and globally. Right now, my main focus is on continuing to improve my game until I feel fully prepared for that transition. Eventually, turning professional is definitely a long-term aspiration for me. The timing isn’t my primary concern at the moment; it’s more about ensuring that when I do make that step, I’m ready to compete at the highest level.

WWG: The women’s game is growing which is great to see. What’s your opinion on this, and what would you say to fellow young women who are interested in starting golf?

The growth of women’s golf is incredibly exciting and encouraging. It’s wonderful to see more opportunities and recognition for female golfers in the sport. For young women interested in starting golf, I would say go for it! Golf is a fantastic game that offers not only physical activity but also mental and social benefits. Golf is the greatest game there is, in my opinion! My advice would be to embrace the learning process, be patient with yourself, and enjoy the journey. Golf can be challenging at times, but the rewards are well worth the effort. Most importantly, believe in yourself and your abilities – you can achieve great things in golf and contribute to the continued growth and success of women’s golf.

WWG: What are your plans over the coming months? Staying in the UAE, or leaving for some time?

NG: I’m in UAE for the coming months and I will play in some amateur events. I’m excited to embark on a journey to play in some elite amateur and LET Access events in Europe this summer. It’ll be a fantastic opportunity that I’m eagerly looking forward to. I see it as not only a chance to compete but also a valuable opportunity to learn and grow as a player. This experience will undoubtedly contribute to my development and overall game.

WWG: Finally, equipment upgrades are a big part of the modern game. Is this something you take an interest in? Have new clubs helped you improve?

I personally haven’t been one to frequently change my equipment that often. I tend to stick with what I know and what feels comfortable for me. That said, finding the right equipment that suits your game and preferences can certainly make a difference in performance. While I haven’t made many changes myself, I believe it’s important for each player to find what works best for them and stick with it, regardless of trends or advancements in equipment technology.

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