Categorized | Meet the Golfer, 2013, August 2013

Meet The Golfer: George Gandranata

By: Simon Reynolds

George GandranataWe caught up with George Gandranata at Royale Jakarta’s impressive driving range. George has been a professional golfer since 2012, competing on the Asian Development Tour, with ambitions to qualify for the full Asian Tour. His dream is to be playing on the European Tour in five years time. He spent his college years playing golf for the prestigious UC Berkeley in California. George was a late starter in the game, first playing golf when he was 13 years old. After a year-and-a-half playing he had already shot Par for 18 holes.

What was your home course as a junior in Indonesia?
My father got me into the game of golf, he used to hang out at Padang Golf Pangkalan Jati with his golfing buddies. This is where I first played rounds of golf. It’s a tricky course, not long from tee to green, you have to be straight to score well there. It has several very tricky holes, which test your shotmaking abilities.

At what point did you realise that you wanted to be a professional golfer?
I was competing in a junior event in the States organised by the American Junior Golf Association. These events attract the very best junior golfers from all over the country, so it was the kind of event that I would get nervous and excited about. I finished 6-under for the tournament over the four days play. It was a life changing moment in my early golf career. It made me realise that I had the game to compete against the very best golfers and gave me a lot of confidence for the future.

How old where you when you first shot par on a golf course? Which course was it?
I shot par at the old Senayan Golf course from the white tees as a fourteen-year-old. It was a junior best net tournament, my handicap was seven at the time, I carded a 65 net to win the event. My handicap soon changed.

Playing golf as a junior, who were the professional golfers you turned to for inspiration? And which professional players do you follow today?
As a junior obviously Tiger Woods, he was a huge inspiration, his exciting style of play and multiple tournament wins, he made golf look cool. Today I like to follow players like Tim Clark, Bob May and Zach Johnson, who have similar games to me; straight hitters with good short games, who are not particularly long off the tee.

Please describe what is it about the game of golf that you love the most?
For me, I guess the whole concept of hitting a small white ball into a cup-sized hole in the ground is genius. What I love most about the game is the putting, like when you are on the green facing a long putt, all you are thinking of is putting and moving on, but all of a sudden you make it. That is the magic of golf, the unexpected. Like when you have a short, makeable putt and it lips out, you are disappointed, even angry. Yet when you stroke a short putt and it circles the hole before falling in, you’re ecstatic. That’s the reason why I keep coming back for more.

Golf is a healthy game, you are in the outdoors, in the fresh air, and if you let it be, it can be very relaxing. It can clear your mind, and every course has its own characteristics, that is what makes it unique.

George Gandranata - PGA Tour

Here we are at Royale Jakarta, one of your regular venues for practice in Jakarta. Can you describe to our readers today’s practice schedule.
It all depends on what I want to work on. Today I went chipping and putting before lunch. Chipping for two hours, then putting for two hours. The secret to my long chipping sessions is to keep picking different targets and to keep things interesting by stimulating my imagination by picking daring shots. Then after a mini-lunch I started hitting some balls with the full swing on the range. The short game is often my priority.

Golf is a somewhat time consuming hobby—what can you be found doing to relax and have fun when you are not playing golf?
I like hanging out with my close friends, we usually go out and eat, on the lookout for new restaurants, watching movies. On the weekends my friends like to play other sports like basketball or even archery, I am often up for joining. It is nice to take a day off from golf once in a while to play other sports.

What are your favourite restaurants in Jakarta?
I like Luna Negra, it has some nice Italian food on the menu. I like Japanese food, and Sushi Tei – the chain never fails to disappoint my regular sushi fix. Maruichi Ramen in Plaza Senayan has some really, really good food as well. I am a huge fan of Japanese food.

What books do you enjoy reading?
I prefer non-fiction books, I have read a lot of Bob Rotella’s books, my favourites being: ‘Putting out of your mind’, and ‘Golf is not a game of perfect’. On a non-golfing level: ‘Outliers’ by Malcolm Gladwell was interesting. I don’t read a lot of fiction to be honest.

George Gandranata - CIMB NiagaDid you ever play with or compete against someone at college level who is now surprisingly winning/competing on the PGA Tour?
No one in my UC team in particular, but in my alumni there are several good examples: James Hahn is one of the best strikers of the golf ball I have ever seen in my life. He used to practice at the same facility, he is a good friend, and since joining the PGA Tour he has made a lot of cuts, and seems to be enjoying himself. Also Peter Tomasulo went to UC, he captained a NCAA winning team whilst he was there, he played on the PGA Tour in the past, however he is now playing on the tour. He’s a great guy, with a great game and work ethic and I am sure once he figures things out he will be back playing PGA tour golf.

What do you have for breakfast in the morning?
I love eggs, usually two, either fried or half boiled with some rice. I really enjoy rice in the morning, especially after returning back to Asia. My favourite is the Hawaiian style: Rice, scrambled eggs, ham, bacon or even sausage. It is really tasty.

You are currently playing on the ADT—in search of your Asian Tour card—where do you see yourself professionally in five years time?
I am hoping to be competing on either the Japanese Tour or European Tour in five years. Japan is closer to home, and I feel like my game is more suitable to these tours. The has the reputation as a bombers tour where one has to drive the ball over 300 yards. I have played in the US before, I feel like the European tour would be very exciting and a whole new experience.

Golfers in Indonesia are blessed with the opportunities to play some world-class golf courses designed by the likes of Greg Norman and Gary Player. What is your favourite course to play, for the sheer pleasure of playing golf, say with friends or your dad?
Taman Dayu just outside Surabaya is majestic and beautiful, we played an ADT tour event there last year and the course was in such good condition, a really impressive setup. The other course closer to home is Jagorawi, it is challenging, and it is not affected a lot by modern technology. It’s a very tight course, and it penalises those who can’t hit the ball straight. It’s a great course to determine who is the best in the field.

Thanks for your time George, and good luck for the remainder of the Asian Development Tour season.

About Simon Reynolds

Simon fell in love with the game of golf at an early age. Watching Happy Gilmore when he was 12, Simon was hooked, and to this day thanks Adam Sandler's genius in the film for his passion for the game. His golfing hero is more refined and mature these days, and he continues his spiritual quest to model his golf game on Ben Hogan's perfect golf swing.

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