Collegiate golfer Caterina Don

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(Photo by Tony Walsh, Courtesy of the University of Georgia)

Taking up her first golf club as a tot, Caterina Don has made impressive professional headway during her undergraduate career.

A 20-year-old golfer from Italy, Caterina Don says being invited to play at the 2020 U.S. Women’s Open while just a sophomore at the University of Georgia was “an amazing learning experience.”

(Photo by Chamberlain Smith, courtesy of the University of Georgia)

Even though she failed to make the cut after the first day of play at the tournament, which was held at Champions Golf Club in Houston, the opportunities afforded her were invaluable, Caterina says. This was her first major professional tournament, and her invitation was based on her World Amateur Golf Ranking status. She stood at No. 30 in late January 2021 and has reached as high as No. 6 in the past.

“The green was firm, and the courses were long,” she recalls. “I got to play with [U.S. golfer] Amy Olson in the practice round, and she finished second. I also played with Sofia Popov from Germany, and she won a major (the 2020 Women’s British Open).”

Josh Brewer, the head women’s golf coach at the University of Georgia, says Caterina loves the game and relishes the competition.

“She has achieved her success through hard work and a support system she trusts,” says Brewer, who has been coaching collegiate golf for nearly 18 years. “Caterina is extremely confident in her process of growing as a golfer and person. This belief, along with her work ethic, has allowed Caterina to achieve many heights in her young career while also working toward new goals.”

When COVID-19 began shutting the world down in March, Caterina was able to go home and weather the quarantine with her family in her native Pinerolo, Piemonte.

She returned to competition in August, when she won the Italian National Women’s Open in Sutri, Lazio. “I really enjoyed the overall experience. And I really played good,” she says.

Her resume also includes taking third place at the 2019 European Ladies’ Amateur Championship and competing in the inaugural Augusta National Women’s Amateur, also in 2019, where she tied for 12th. She has been attending the University of Georgia on an athletic scholarship for the last two years.

Caterina started playing golf at around age 6 after her aunt and uncle took her to a course. She kept up with the sport recreationally while skiing competitively, but her passion for the links grew to the point where she decided to quit skiing and take up golf competitively.

What is it about the sport she loves so much? “I think it’s the toughness of it,” she says. “You always have to train. You always have to learn new things about your golf game. It’s just a push every day.”

There’s also the ever-changing challenge of confronting a variety of course layouts and weather conditions, according to Caterina. After a loss, it’s all about taking the positives and analyzing what worked and what didn’t. “You have to work on your game and improve for next time,” she says.

As for her favorite course: “That’s a really tough question. I always give different answers to everybody,” she quips.

Caterina says she picked the University of Georgia after visiting three schools because it felt most like home. “The people are really nice,” she says, adding that the city of Athens, Georgia, has a European feel, with a downtown filled with shops and restaurants.

Being part of the university’s golf team is like having a second family in the United States, she says, noting that it has provided great emotional support, particularly during the pandemic.

The team includes student golfers from all over the world, including Venezuela, Taiwan, Austria, France and Canada, in addition to the United States. That diversity pushes everyone to learn about new points of view, she says. “We can have a lot of fun doing what we do.”

Caterina is majoring in math, which she says can lead to professional opportunities like working in sports data analysis, but her immediate path forward is clear. “My goal is to be a professional golfer,” she says. “For sure.”

The above appears in the March 2021 issue of the print version of Fra Noi. Our gorgeous, monthly magazine contains a veritable feast of news and views, profiles and features, entertainment and culture. To subscribe, click here.

 

About Elena Ferrarin

Elena Ferrarin is a native of Rome who has worked as a journalist in the United States since 2002. She has been a correspondent for Fra Noi for more than a decade. She previously worked as a reporter for The Daily Herald in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, The Regional News in Palos Heights and as a reporter/assistant editor for Reflejos, a Spanish-English newspaper in Arlington Heights. She has a bachelor’s degree from Brown University and a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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