Maha Haddioui – Exclusive with the Middle East’s first Ladies European Tour player

 

How did you first get into the game?
Maha Haddioui: I first got into the game when I was 12 years old. It was really random as no one from my family played golf or even was familiar with the sport. My sister and I were running around the golf course after a family lunch there and the caddie master who wasn’t too happy with that took us to the driving range and that’s how I hit my first ball. I really liked the atmosphere at the academy and I got very excited when I could make a good contact with the ball, so I continued to go every week and later during holidays everyday.

 

What did it mean to you to become the first Arab golfer on the Ladies European Tour?
Maha Haddioui: It meant a lot to me as it was one of my goals as a teenager. I feel really proud to see the Moroccan flag floating at the Ladies European Tour events. It is not only the Moroccan flag that is floating; it is also an Arab flag that is being represented.

 

What was the toughest challenge to switch from an amateur to a professional?
Maha Haddioui: The biggest challenge was obviously the level of play, the level of pressure associated with the tournaments. There is a big difference between playing golf to make a living and playing golf to achieve a performance as an amateur. As an amateur, everything gets taken care of; while as a professional you are independent and therefore have more responsibilities.

 

 

Did you have the opportunity to play other courses in the Middle East as you were growing up?
Maha Haddioui: One of my first tournaments as an amateur abroad was the Junior Arab Championship when I was 14 in Syria. I then played in Dubai at the Emirates Golf Club the next year again for the same event. Those two years I was the only girl participating.

 

How have you developed your game to take into consideration the wide variety of courses on the LET?
Maha Haddioui: Yes it is definitely something that gets better with years and experience. I was used to Bermuda grass courses since my home club in Agadir was of that type and a very American looking course. I later played in the US during my college years and again it was a similar type of target golf courses. Playing on the LET and all over the world, I got very familiar with different types of courses like forest courses or links courses. You need to learn to shape the ball much more on courses like that and it’s something I worked on a lot.

 

What’s the best piece of advice you received to help you become a professional?
Maha Haddioui: My advice would be to work really hard during practice and to try to enjoy my rounds during tournaments. After all, it is a game.

 

What would you say or do to encourage more youngsters in the Middle East to take up the game?
Maha Haddioui: I would like to tell them that if I have reached this level, they could do it too. Follow your dreams and don’t leave room for regrets.

 

Who has had the greatest input on your career so far and what have they done to help?
Maha Haddioui: My parents have been a tremendous support in my career. They have supported me since the first weeks I played golf until now and even in the very difficult times. They have believed in me and even though I was quite young, they allowed me to go on tournaments all over the world since I was 15 and still an amateur.

 

What’s the highlight of your career so far and why?
Maha Haddioui: The highlight of my career has been being the first Arab to get my cards on the Ladies European Tour in December of 2012 and this year qualifying in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. It was a crazy experience and I have learned a lot from being around other Olympic athletes.

 

What area of your game is your strength and what area are you working on the most?
Maha Haddioui: My strength is my driving and iron play. I work on that a lot but I try to focus more on the putting and chipping which are the areas that build confidence during tournaments.

 

What’s the best tip you could give an amateur looking to reduce their handicap?
Maha Haddioui: I would recommend getting lessons regularly to avoid mistakes settling in the swing. Another tip would be to always switch between technical practice and performance practice especially on the driving range. This kind of preparation allows you to have less technical thoughts on the course and play more freely.

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - DECEMBER 08:  Maha Haddioui of Morocco in action during the Challenge Match on the par 3 floodlit course as a preview for the 2014 Omega Dubai Ladies Masters at Emirates Golf Club on December 8, 2014 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.  (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

 

You speak four languages and love to travel, so life on Tour must be easier but how do you structure your schedule for the year?
Maha Haddioui: I follow the Ladies European Tour schedule throughout the year. It is really amazing because we get to see countries from all continents. I personally try to take the time to visit the places I go to when I finish playing. As professional golfers we become also very street-smart and professional globetrotters.

 

Have you every played Doha Golf Club, if you how did you enjoy the course?
Maha Haddioui: I have never played at the Doha Golf Club but I am very happy I will finally get to play it.  My little sister has played it during the Arab Games a few years ago and finished second. She told me it is a very challenging course.

 

How do you prepare your game for playing the courses in the Middle East?
Maha Haddioui: Courses in the Middle East tend to be very much target golf type of courses. I prepare just like the other tournaments while putting a special emphasis on bunker play especially approach shots from bunkers. I have a lot of anticipation coming to play in other Arab countries; it’s an honour being the one who represents our community on the Ladies European Tour.

 

maha-worldwide-golf-4

QUICK 9

Who is your golfing hero? Tiger Woods

What was the last film you watched?  September of Shiraz

What was the last album you downloaded? Adele

Favourite pastime away from the course?  My dogs

Favourite restaurant? Nobu

Best club in the bag? Driver

Have you had a hole-in-one? 4

If you went on X factor what would you sing? When we were young, Adele

Do you prefer trainers or heels? Trainers

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