Meet Europe’s rising star Klára Spilková, the Czech Republic’s finest golfing export.
Klára, 16, started on the Ladies European Tour earlier this season as its youngest ever member. After tying for ninth at the LET’s Final Qualifying School in December, she decided to turn professional.
Since then, she was seventh at the Lalla Meryem Cup in Morocco, third at the La Nivelle Ladies Open on the LET Access Series and tied for 11th at the Turkish Airlines Ladies Open in Antalya two weeks ago. Not bad for a school girl from Prague.
Klára first picked up a golf club at the age of four as her family lived near Golf Club Erpet Praha.
“My father helped me play golf. I’ve played for 12 years and I really like it,” she says. “We lived really close to a golf course so we just tried it and then we liked it. It was co-incidence.”
By the time she turned professional on 1st January 2011 she was playing off a handicap of plus 4 and had won multiple titles, including the 2010 International Championship of Austria. She was runner-up at the European Nations Championship; won the Junior Championship of Germany in 2009 and 2010 and also claimed the 2009 European Young Masters with a total score of 14 under par. She was a member of the 2010 European Junior Ryder Cup team and of the 2009 European PING Junior Solheim Cup side.
Domestically, she was the Czech match play champion in 2009 and 2010 and the Czech Republic Junior champion in 2007.
“The last three years were really good,” says Klára, but she felt that she could take her game to the next level, combining a golf career with her high school studies.
“In 2011 I want to play 20 tournaments on the Ladies European Tour and a few tournaments on the LET Access. I really want to play Evian Masters. I have an individual plan and school is really good. I go to school in Czech Republic. I have four more years,” she says.
Klára was given special permission to attend Ladies European Tour Qualifying School for the 2011 season on account of her record but as a minor, she will need to travel with a guardian to LET events until the age of 18.
She travels to events with Aneta Zarubova, her full-time media representative and caddie, but also has an extensive team of experts on hand who are setting her on course for a bright future.
They include her manager, Alan Babicky and her coach of six years: Pavel Nic Senior as well as her physiotherapist, Jiri Firt and her psychologist, Helena Jencová. She even has her own personal fashion designer: her older brother, 20-year-old Lukáś Spilka.
Aneta says: “Her brother is a fashion designer and everybody is jealous because he designs all her casual outfits. It’s really pretty what he does. He is at the beginning of his career and has his own brand. He has a symbol but he doesn’t have a name.”
When Klára is not on Tour, she’s back in the classroom at high school, but explains: “I have my own personal plan and it’s really good for me. If I’m in the Czech Republic I can go to school and have some tests with other kids. When I’m away I study just a little bit.”
It helps that she is physically gifted. Aneta explains how Klára often runs and is excellent at table tennis. Her favourite subject at school is gymnastics and her least favourite in mathematics.
She doesn’t want to go to college in the United States. “I don’t want to live in the USA. I want to stay in Europe. I just want to play this tour but I’m too young to decide now so we’ll see,” she says.
Klára is extremely focused and says that the best part of her game is her putting. “Everybody said: ‘Your putting is really good!’” When asked about her long game, she smiles and says: “It’s good.” So is there any room for improvement? “I think I really need more shots to the green, controlling the ball.”
|From left: Klára Spilková and Zuzana Kamasova in Turkey
She has already confirmed her potential, having featured on the leader boards in Turkey and in Morocco, where she watched Zuzana Kamasova from neighbouring Slovakia take the Lalla Meryem Cup title. Klára now has the opportunity to become the youngest winner ever on the Ladies European Tour. She is one month younger than Amy Yang, who was 16 when she won the ANZ Ladies Masters on February 5th, 2006, aged 16 years, 6 months and 8 days whilst still an amateur. Her fellow competitor at the UniCredit Ladies German Open presented by Audi, Lexi Thompson of the United States, is a couple of months younger, but looks older.
She says that she knew she wanted to be a pro when she played in the 2010 Allianz Ladies Slovak Open at Gray Bear Golf Club in Tale on an invitation.
“I played last year in Slovakia and I really liked it. It was a really good experience and I said, ‘I want to play this tour, because it’s cool and the players are really, really good. This is what I want to do. I played with Maria Verchenova and Martina Eberl from Germany so it was a really famous flight and I really liked it. I played Q School in La Manga and I was really happy. It was a surprise. I was really happy because I felt really bad on the last day.”
She is a role model for kids in the Czech Republic, though she is not the first Czech representative on the Ladies European Tour. Zuzana Masinova was the first and played for two years but has since left to have a child.
Marek Nový is the best male golfer from the Czech Republic and plays on the Challenge Tour, but when asked if she is the most famous, Klára is clearly delighted and beams: “I think so. It’s nice. On Facebook, it’s crazy. I just started a page and I have 250 fans.”
Klára will be the centre of attention when the inaugural Prague Golf Masters takes place at Prague City Golf Club, where she is a member, from 8-11 September and she is also looking forward to returning to the Slovak Ladies Open, from 26-29 May.
“I hope that everybody goes there from the Czech Republic. I hope so, because I like everybody clapping and screaming: it’s cool!” she says, with a smile.
Her father, Petr Spilka and mother, Simoná Spilková, have helped her to this point but you get the sense that Klára really understands and enjoys what she is doing.
“I would like to play The Solheim Cup: it’s my dream,” she says. “Last year I played The PING Junior Solheim Cup and it was really cool. I played an exhibition with Nancy Lopez and Carin Koch.
“I just want to be the best golfer in the world.”