08 Jan 2024 | Amateur golf |

Chen takes up college challenge

by Golf WA

Celine Chen image
Celine Chen is taking the next step in America.

Celine Chen – one of Western Australia’s most prolific junior golfers – will take the next steps in her golfing career in the United States after signing up with Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas, Texas.

The 17-year-old Joondalup Country Club member will join the SMU Mustangs Women’s Golf Team this month as she embarks on a four-year sports management degree with the ultimate goal of making it onto the LPGA Tour.

Chen's domestic titles include the WA Women’s Amateur Championship, Drummond Golf 54-Hole Junior Classic and Foursomes Amateur Championship (all in 2022), and she has represented WA at both junior and open level at the Interstate Teams Matches.

Her represented Australia at the 2022 Singapore Junior Amateur Championship.

Chen said she was looking forward to seeing where the journey takes her. “I’ve loved playing junior golf in Perth and around Australia, but going to college and being able to compete alongside some of the best amateur players in the world is too good an opportunity to miss,” she told GolfWA.

“I visited SMU in June this year, and the training and practice facilities available to their golf teams are just insane! Being exposed to all that will, I’m sure, really help me develop my game as well as improve my WAGR ranking and career opportunities.”

Chen had a choice between three US universities – SMU, Ohio State and Kentucky State – but opted to head to Texas after receiving such a warm welcome during her visit to SMU in June. The lure of being able to compete year-round in sunny southern climes was also a factor in her decision.

The demand for her signature was high – something Celine attributes not only to her golfing pedigree but also to her dedication to her schooling.

“I’ve had to keep up my grades since the beginning of Year 10 and make sure I’m always on top of everything,” she explains. “Time management has been really important, especially in Years 11 and 12, because it’s not always easy to balance study and golf and do them both well.”

For the past two years, Chen’s commitment to sport and education has seen her rise at 5am to practice her golf before school, followed by several hours of study each night.

Although she admits it was tough at times, she wouldn’t recommend doing it any other way – especially for junior golfers with ambitions of playing on the US college circuit.

The ultra-competitive nature of college golf will test Celine from the outset, with players having to be switched on for every training session and competitive round if they hope to play their way into the starting lineup.

“The experience will be unreal for me,” said Chen. “I’m most looking forward to all the traveling, the new experiences and being able to compare my game against so many of the best amateur golfers.

“I know it won’t be easy, but the variety of courses and strength of the fields will be really good for my development. I want to get as good as I can and see where golf can take me.”

Chen acknowledged the role GolfWA has played in her glittering career journey up to now. “I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the support of GolfWA,” she said. “The High Performance Program has helped me a lot and I’ve loved playing all the GolfWA events over the past few years.

“I’ve achieved most of the things I wanted to achieve in WA golf. Now I’m hoping to follow in the footsteps of Minjee and Hannah and get myself onto the LPGA Tour. It’ll be a long journey, but I can’t wait to take the next step.”

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