By Mick Jensen
Caitlin Smith has made big advances on the croquet circuit over the last 12 months and those efforts have been recognised with the award of the Most Improved Golf Croquet Player in New Zealand.
The stellar year for the Mount Hutt College student has seen her lower her handicap from 10 to 5.
She has also notched up a number of impressive finishes including 9th at the NZ Limited Singles in January, 16th at the U21 World Golf Croquet Championships in Melbourne in February and second equal at the Gordon Smith Invitational.
Caitlin said she was surprised and very happy with the award.
“I’ve put more time into my golf croquet over the last year and it’s paid off.”
As well as extra practise and more lawn time, her progress had benefited from some great coaching from Mount Hutt College teacher Jarrod Coutts.
Mr Coutts was a top player in his own right and had encouraged and supported golf croquet players at Mount Hutt.
The 16-year-old said she hoped to continue her own progress in the sport over the coming months.
Her future goal was a spot at the U21 World Golf Croquet Championships in England in 2019.
“I love the combination of the mental challenge and skills test that golf croquet offers.”
Caitlin took up the game three years ago and is a member of Waireka Croquet Club.
She received her early coaching from her grandmother Jackie Rollinson, who is also member at Waireka.