There are 10 Norwegian members of the LET in 2018, including five new members who qualified at Lalla Aicha Tour School in December.
Of those five, four are rookies and three are teenagers. In addition, Madelene Stavnar, who played a full season last year, has only just turned 17, so it’s fair to say that there is a new guard on Tour this year.
The rookies include Karoline Lund, 18, from Losby Golf Club, who made the decision to turn professional and forgo a golf scholarship to Oklahoma State University after earning the fifth and final spot in Category 5b, via a play-off. Holding this new category for the top five players from Tour School gives her a considerable advantage in that she will be able to play in most tournaments, including those which are co-sanctioned with other tours. It means that she has gained entry to the first four tournaments of the season in Australia which are co-sanctioned with the ALPG Tour: the Oates Vic Open, ActewAGL Canberra Classic, Bonville Classic and New South Wales Open.
Speaking at the LET’s Rookie Orientation at La Sella Golf Resort in Spain, she spoke about her enthusiasm for the season ahead and the good work that the Norwegian Federation has done to develop young players in recent years. “They have gathered those few girls who are at a certain level in Norway and they are building a team, called Team Norway. We have resources around us and coaches that help us. Golf is an individual sport, but it feels like we are a team when we travel and practise together, so it’s really nice. It makes the transition from being an amateur to a professional much smoother. I’m really looking forward to this year and of course I want to make other friends as well, but it’s more comfortable being on the tour when you have friends around you.”
The second rookie to come through Lalla Aicha Tour School was Marita Engzelius, 29, from Oslo Golf Club, who only just lost out in the fifth-place play-off. She has been playing on the LPGA and the Symetra Tour for the last four years, winning the 2014 Symetra Tour Championship. She said: “These are exciting times for Norwegian golf and I hope that we can encourage each other to play the best we can.”
The third Norwegian rookie is Celine Borge, 19, who is from the same golf club as Stavnar. Borge said: “It’s good to have lots of Norwegians on the tour because we travel together. We have travelled together to lots of tournaments around the world, especially Madelene, Karoline and myself.”
The fourth rookie is Mariell Bruun, who tied for 37th place at Lalla Aicha Tour School. The other Norwegian players are Suzann Pettersen and Marianne Skarpnord, who represented their country at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, Caroline Martens, Tonje Daffinrud and Rachel Raastad.
Two-time Major winner Pettersen, whose career best ranking was second, has provided plenty of inspiration for the rookies.
Lund said of the eight-time Solheim Cup player: “I met Suzann several years ago when she had her own junior tournament at her home club, which I played in twice. She’s been my role model since I started playing golf and of course she was a huge star and still is. I’m really looking forward to playing in a few tournaments with her and getting to know her a bit, to hear about her experience. Because we come from Norway and we have a six-month long golf season, she has shown that it is possible for a Norwegian to be as successful as she is.”
Engzelius added: “Suzann Pettersen has been a huge inspiration to me. She always inspired me when I was little and now she is continuing to push me and motivate me, so that is great. I love her work ethic and everything about her golf. She has been a great role model, coming from the same club and country. I have stayed with her in Orlando for the past year and it’s just amazing how she can be so helpful and open, so I truly appreciate her help. She always pays attention to how people are doing and it’s touching in a way.”
The LET last visited Norway for the 2009 SAS Ladies Masters at Larvik Golf Club, the home club of Mariell Bruun, while the Ladies Norwegian Challenge, Larvik Ladies Open and Drøbak Ladies Open were played on the LET Access Series from 2012-2016.