When Julie Don Ting first picked up a club, all she wanted was to learn golf to boost her business connections.
Little did she know that a few months later, she would fall madly in-love with the game to the point of spending countless hours in the fairway just to smoothen her swing and master that putt while swapping smiles and stories with her flightmates.
Just one glance at her and you can see that she’s no ordinary golfer.
Ting, also known as “Jho” to her friends, has been setting the fairway on fire with her beauty, charm and class. She carries herself with confidence and dresses with flair, enough to sweep male golfers off their feet while inspiring female players to take the sport very seriously.
Like Tim Cone who wears a long-sleeved polo and tie while barking instructions at the sidelines for Barangay Ginebra during Philippine Basketball Association games, Jho also makes sure to dress up and look good in the fairway to show her love and respect to the sport.
But like any ordinary golfer, Jho also started at the bottom.
She said she initially just wanted to play golf as part of her job as marketing executive of an automotive company.
“Once you are in sales, I believe that part of your job is to learn how to play golf. Majority of my clients play golf and even until now, I still get acquainted to potential clients through golf,” said Jho, whose great scores and megawatt smile perfectly complement her fairway attire.
“I have three golf groups, all of them are guys and they’re really good. I have a Sunday group which I regularly play with early morning tee time, and I have another schedule in the afternoon. It’s either we play another round or just maximize our time by practicing at the range.”
She said with her competitive nature, golf is the perfect game for her.
“Playing golf contributed so much to my personal and professional life. It’s a challenge for me since I have a very competitive character,” she said, adding that delivering a powerful drive gives her the confidence not just to do better in the next hole, but also to face the challenges of life.
“Unlike team sports, golf, for me, is very personal. You always have to play against yourself, try to beat your previous record and do better in the next hole. I don’t give up easily. I always aim high either in my personal or professional life. I was able to close business deals through this aside from the health benefits and relaxation I get from playing.”
But more than anything, golf taught her values that she’s using in achieving her goals.
“Golf has taught me to become patient. Now, I learned to focus and concentrate on things that I need to execute. I know that by being patient, I will be able to achieve the goals I set in life,” Jho said.
There has been a notion that golf is a man’s game.
After all, history is overflowing with legendary male golfers like Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods.
When you walk into the driving range, almost 80 percent of those hitting the balls are male and there’s a lot more when you roll into the actual fairway.
This is the stereotype that a serious lady golfer like Jho wants to break.
“I believe that men and women are equal in a way that we can also do what men can do. We can also make that long putt and even outdrive other male players,” Jho said.
“Most women have this graceful swing and walk that men will give a second look. We definitely add beauty in the fairway.”
She said here in the country, for example, the top golfers in Yuka Saso and Bianca Pagdanganan are both females.
Aside from competing in the recent Tokyo Olympics, Saso and Pagdanganan had put the country on the map of international golf after winning gold medals in the Asian Games in Jakarta in 2018.
Saso also won the US Women’s Open, a feat that will be very tough to match by any male Filipino golfer.
“As you can see, Yuka and Bianca were the first Filipinos to join the LPGA while our top male golfers still have to fight for their slots in the PGA. Yes, women are now at par with men when it comes to golf and women can now beat their male counterparts or at least be on the same spot.”
Jho stressed that she doesn’t use her charm just to get an advantage over her flightmates.
“Yes, I get a lot of invites to play and, sometimes, I get to play for free,” she said.
“But I don’t agree with the gimmes because, as I’ve said, I am very competitive. I play fair and square, which means that I don’t ask for a plus. I even hit from the blue tee just like my male flightmates. I make it a point to compete as well.”
But not everything is sweet and rosy, especially when the game — and her scores — are on the line.
Jho admitted that when nerves get into her, that’s the time that she digs into her bag of tricks.
“I just smile and I smile a lot,” she said, adding that dressing up provides her with that extra ounce of confidence, especially when she is down in a situation that could either make or break her reputation as a golfer.
“I believe that women who dress nicely in the fairway will always look good and feel good. It’s not the dress or the brand that you wear. What matters most is that you carry it with confidence and grace, especially when the game is on the line.”
Ting said she loves the game not just whenever she delivers that powerful 180-yard drive to hit the green or when she nails that 15-foot putt to seal a birdie.
She’s in-love with the game even if she finds herself in the woods or whenever her ball lands in the middle of a sand trap or ends up in a water hazard.
“Golf is enticing and I am so in-love with this game. I embrace the game and its never-ending challenges and sense of accomplishment whenever I beat my previous scores,” she said.
“When you are in-love with something, you are excited. You give it time, understanding, patience, confidence and things that you need to do to nurture the love within.”
“I am happily hooked into golf. This keeps me going and I am 1,000 percent in-love with the game.”
When Jho started to play golf, all she wanted was to enhance her personal directory with names of people who can help her grow her business.
But golf gave her more than that.
It taught her patience, understanding, confidence and courage to face all kinds of challenges.
More than that, it gave a unique kind of love, something that only she and other golfers could understand.