WHEN she was a 10-year-old Wallangarra girl, Sophie Cusack’s dream was to be the dux of Jennings Public School.
More than 10 years later, her dreams have expanded somewhat and now top of the list is to be a professional golfer.
Last month, she became the youngest Tenterfield lady golfer to qualify for the NSW State Salver Matchplay Trophy in Sydney.
Her achievement put “S. Cusack” in the local golf history books.
Of the 75 players who competed from around the country, Sophie finished fourth, an impressive feat for a 22-year-old who only started playing golf “properly” in September/October last year and is yet to have a proper golf lesson.
In less than 12 months, she has reduced her handicap from 38 to eight and has plans to reduce it further if she can.
Born in Brisbane, Sophie grew up in Wallangarra, attended Jennings Public School and then Tenterfield High School until year 10, when she went to boarding school in Sydney.
It was not until she went to university in Albury to study a degree in business, however, that she ventured onto the green with some clubs.
“I needed something to do with the rest of my time… University is a pretty relaxed lifestyle. You’re only hung over for the first few hours of the day,” she laughs.
“I just started playing. It was great. I think I loved it from the moment I picked up a club.
“I love the challenge, I love having to go over trees or if I have to go behind a tree and have to hit a hook shot out and around.”
From the course in Albury, Sophie progressed and said she learnt the finer points through lots of practice with her brothers Ned, 25 and Hugo 17 and by watching players at the Tenterfield Golf Club, including her father Michael Cusack and uncle Peter who she describes as her “inspiration”.
“They’ve both got pretty unique swings… one could swing a golf club in a phone booth and the other one whilst sitting in a banana lounge,” she laughs.
While Sophie may joke about her father and his “unique” left-hand swing, she is quick to admit that she would not have got as far as she has without him.
When she is not playing golf, Sophie helps Michael out on their sheep and cattle farm.
“He is very supportive. It is a pretty unique situation because I don’t know many people my age,” she says.
Tenterfield’s golfers are proud of Sophie too as her achievement in the matchplay was not the first time she has made headlines in the local area.
Last year, she was part of the team who finished runners-up at the state finals of the threeball ladies classic.
Sophie travelled to the Cypress Lakes Golf Resort with Letitia Jones and Michelle Cockburn to compete against the top 21 teams from across the state.
The ladies finished with +10 to claim second spot, four shots behind the competition winners from Gerringong.
It was the first time a team from Tenterfield qualified for the event.
“After her win at the threeball event, Sophie made a statement that her signature was going to become an autograph,” teammate Letitia Jones said.
Ms Jones said she hopes Sophie’s story might help encourage more young women to get involved with golf in Tenterfield.
Sophie is in a two minds about the idea.
“It would be great to see more girls playing golf obviously, but at the same time the fact that there aren’t many is kind of a good thing for me right, a little less competition,” she jokes.
“There are a lot of teenage boys who come out to play on the course but there really aren’t that many girls. I don’t know why because it is not like they don’t know we have a golf course.”
Tenterfield Golf Club is the first step towards the pro circuit and autographs and Sophie is not afraid of some hard work to get there.
The next goal for her is to try to get accepted into a PGA school next year where she will receive special one-on-one coaching, advice and “get to pretty much play golf every day”.
For the time being though, she will have to settle for life on the farm and perfecting her talents on the local course. No doubt she has got her eye on taking out the next monthly mug.