Deciding to turn professional is something most golfers don’t take lightly. Timing is everything and Germany’s Chiara Noja has decided the timing is right this week at the Dubai Moonlight Classic presented by EGA.
The 15-year-old put an end to her amateur career last week and will tee it up on the Faldo Course at Emirates Golf Club.
But being able to make her professional debut in Dubai is something Noja will hold dear in her heart as she is based in the city.
“Turning pro is a big step but one I’m ready to take, especially here in Dubai – the Dubai Moonlight Classic is probably the most emotionally connected event for me,” said the teenager.
“It’s a great opportunity and I’m really looking forward to teeing off the in spotlight. It’ll be great to play amongst such a strong field!
“It doesn’t get much better than Dubai when it comes to courses and facilities. It’s honestly insane. The courses are beautiful. The people are so sweet and so supportive. It’s just a dream come true. Getting this opportunity and being so blessed to be able to live here – it’s incredible.”
Noja competed at last season’s Dubai Moonlight Classic at the age of just 14 and she shot rounds of 77, 86 and 73.
And despite not being the result the teenager may have wanted; she admits she learnt a lot from that experience.
“One of my key lessons from last year was accepting failure – I used to think everybody fails at some point, but I didn’t think it would happen to me. Until you experience it you never know how you’re going to react,” explained Noja.
“I walked into the tournament and avoided the whole topic of being unsure of myself prior to it but then when I got there, I thought to myself what have I signed up for? This series has been a lot more of being sure of myself and learning how I react to certain scenarios, accepting failure and not being scared to fail.
“A lot of is trying to avoid failure which is never going to happen, you’re going to have misses, you’re going to have bad days but it’s about sucking it up and moving on because you’re going to have to eventually.”
Being aware of how you change and develop as an athlete is vitally important and that is another aspect of Noja’s game she believes has improved.
“One word that comes to my mind is growth, I was a very different person back then. My last experience of the tournament, I was definitely less self-aware of who I was an athlete and less confident of who I am,” she continued.
“Over the last year I’ve spent a lot of time developing that mental health aspect of the game, through competing and gaining more confidence and accepting that everyone is going to fail at some point. It’s about getting back up after you fail.”
Earlier this year, Noja honed her craft on the LET Access Series – the LET’s development Tour – competing in five events.
Her best result came in Belgium when she finished as a runner-up behind England’s Lily May Humphreys, who went on to win the LETAS Order of Merit and Rookie of the Year titles.
While she had another top-10 finished with T8 at the PGA Championship By Trelleborgs Kommun, as well as T21 at the Montauban Ladies Open, T24 at Flumserberg Ladies Open and T43 at the Lavaux Ladies Open.
“Going out on the Access Series and slowly gathering that confidence back again was really massive for me, in Belgium competing on the par, for the win and getting through to the final round. It gave me a real insight into what my future life could be like and really inspired me to continue grinding,” said the 15-year-old.
Heading into the Dubai Moonlight Classic, Noja is trying to take the tournament as it comes and not put too much pressure on herself and wants to just play the game she loves.
She added: “For this week, I don’t want to go in with too many expectations. Go into it present and level-headed and focusing on whatever comes my way. I’m not trying to force anything. Just letting it happen and just chase whatever I can chase.”