Henni Zuel talks to GolfMagic

Ladies European Tour player talks Solheim Cup, Mauritius golf, Callaway and working with David Beckham

Andy Roberts's picture
Fri, 20 Nov 2015

Henni Zuel talks to GolfMagic

Fresh off appearances in the Sky Sports Golf studio, Ladies European Tour player Henni Zuel sat down with GolfMagic to talk all things golf.

Zuel, 25, enjoyed a glittering amateur career by becoming the youngest player to join the Ladies European Tour as a 13-year-old in 2003, the same year she was crowned England U13 champion.

With six top-10 finishes and counting on the Ladies European Tour, the politely spoken Zuel continues to work hard on her game but also works tirelessly outside the ropes by drawing more young females into the sport.

Zuel, born in Salisbury but of Mauritian background, spoke openly about her new overseas role as ambassador for Heritage Golf Club, addressed the healthy state of ladies golf despite the controversy at this year's Solheim Cup, and revealed the new Callaway and Odyssey clubs that can be found in her bag.

Henni also expressed admiration for working alongside David Beckham several years ago, and confessed love for a certain Italian pianist. 

Henni, could we start by obtaining your thoughts on the state of ladies golf right now?

It's a very exciting time to be part of ladies golf. The level of growth in the last five years has been special and I believe it's only going to get stronger the next couple of years.

There is just so much young talent coming through the ranks, none more so than Lydia Ko, who is remarkably still only 18.

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I think in a few years time, the women's game could very well match the men's game right now, in the sense we'll have a crop of talented youngsters all vying for the world number one spot and creating rivalries. That can only be good for the sport.

I'm also really excited about the future of England's Charley Hull, but there are a number of other youngsters making giant strides. Some of them just seem fearless and they just go for it.

I think for many youngsters on Tour, when they see someone doing as well as Lydia, it inspires them and makes them think 'yeah, I can give this a go and do what she's doing.'

Lydia is without doubt inspiring the next generation of lady golfers and it's great to see. More people are watching the game as a result, simply because ladies golf is becoming cool and hip again by being dominated by a younger generation.

This also means more sponsorship opportunities and additional TV coverage to help create our story, so I think we're in a pretty strong position at the moment. 

What did you make of the controversy at this year's Solheim Cup?

It's one of those things where I don't think it's wrong to villainise anyone.

At the end of the day it's a sporting event. Let's take into account a Saturday football match and how many arguments go on there. Rules are guidelines for competitive sport and occasionally there are going to be conflicts - that is just the nature of any sport.

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Look at this year's Rugby World Cup with the controversy in several of the matches. There is always going to be controversy in sport.

On a positive side, when you have Piers Morgan talking about ladies golf, isn't that great? Talking about golf is talking about golf as far as I'm concerned. 

Could you tell us more about your background to golf and how early you got a hook for the game?

I first picked up a club when I was six years old.

My mum played for a company golf day and I just followed her round. I then went to summer golf camps, played my first competition at Orchardleigh Golf Club and one of the coaches realised I had some potential.

From there I played in something called a T-peg Series, I don't know if it's still going, and that was in the Bournemouth and Dorset area. We played loads of competitions and I was hooked from a competitive point of view, especially after winning my first event. I won a trophy and kept looking at it, and just wanted more of them.

It's no secret you enjoyed a fantastic amateur career before turning pro in 2008, how proud are you to hold the record of the youngest player to compete in a Ladies European Tour event?

The year of 2003 was a really exciting time for me. I was 13 years old and playing on the LET. I remember walking around in Ireland with Laura Davies and Sophie Gustafson, two of my heroes.

It was a huge moment to play the same event as those players and it really spurred me on to pursue this sport.

What's your number one tip for youngsters looking to make inroads in the sport?

Believe in themselves and the way they want to play the game.

Look at the likes of Bubba Watson and Jim Furyk. There are so many different styles and ways to play this sport, so I would say just take your own game to the course, go and have fun with it and see how good you can be. 

Never lose sight of the fact golf is just a game. While it is important to play well at the top level, it is important to keep things in perspective. Golf is a game, just as tiddlywinks is, and it's there to be enjoyed.

How are you enjoying your other golfing roles at the moment?

I am really enjoying getting young girls into the sport, as well as promoting Heritage Golf Club in Mauritius as club ambassador which I am very proud of.

Coming from a Mauritian background myself, it's been fantastic to help grow the sport not only in the UK but over there at the moment as it's extremely close to my heart.

Heritage Golf Club has been voted the best course in the Indian Ocean and it hosted the Mauritius Open on the European Tour won by George Coetzee this year. It's been fun to showcase the quality of the course and promote the area of Mauritius as an all-year round world class destination for golf. 

Could tell us what clubs you've got in the bag at the moment and why you've made those decisions? 

Callaway has a fantastic fitting centre in Leatherhead so I've been working hard with the guys over there on finding the right gear for my game. It's a fantastic centre with access to Trackman. 

This year, and I'm not just saying this, Callaway has made its best ever clubs. It's the best bag I've ever had, these clubs are just unbelievable.

I have got the new Apex Pro irons in the bag. Distance wise, they are very consistent which is important, there's a lovely feel off them and they also offer good forgiveness. 

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I have also got the Callaway Alpha Double Black Diamond driver. I love its old fashioned, classic look. I see coloured heads out there and I am not a massive fan of that. The ball flight of this driver is better than anything else I've used recently. 

Wedges wise, I have got the new Callaway Mack Daddy 3. When they first arrived, I was honestly like a five-year-old at Christmas. They offer so much spin, but the ball flight is much more consistent than before. They're also superb out the sand.

On the greens, I have an Odyssey Jailbird. It doesn't look great, granted, but when I first picked this up, I couldn't miss with it. So many people come up to me and ask about my putter, just because of how it looks. When they have a go with it, they all want to get hold of one. I think I've probably converted at least 10 people down the club. It's my baby and I am bit in love with it. 

We know you're a bit of a fitness freak, so what is your number one tip for the amateur golfer?

For improved performance, mobilising your hips is of huge importance.

If you're trying to build strength, please don't ever load the back as that's under enough stress playing golf as it is, and don't work too much on the chest. 

We've seen you pop up on the Sky Sports studio quite a bit recently, is that something you're looking to continue?

I really hope so, the guys at Sky have a really great team there. Everyone from the producers, the guys behind the scenes and the presenters like Sarah Stirk, everyone has just been fantastic with me and it's definitely something I would like to continue. 

You were once of the same management as David Beckham. How regularly did you get to speak to him?

I learnt so much from David, he's just such a lovely guy and a great role model. 

He faced so much adversity during his football career and persevered with it all and turned things around, so learning about how he dealt with all of that was probably the biggest insight I got from him. 

The loyalty to his teams and his fans, as well as all the work he does for charity around the world also impressed me a lot. 

As for his golf, I think he's tried to get into it a few times, but I never saw him actually pick up a club so I cannot comment too much further.

And finally, some quick-fire questions so we can get to know you better. Let's start with your favourite music artist?

I am really into my classical music, which not too many people know about me. I really like Italian pianist Ludovico Einaudi.

Favourite food?

Japanese

Favourite country?

Mauritius

Favourite football team?

Chelsea

Favourite golf club?

58-degree Mack Daddy 3 wedge

Jack or Tiger?

Jager

Dream fourball?

Muhammad Ali, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods

Henni Zuel is an ambassador for Heritage Golf Club in Mauritius, which has been named ‘Indian Ocean’s Best Golf Course’ for the second year in a row at the annual World Golf AwardsFor more information, visit the Heritage Golf Club website