The LET Access Series has welcomed its first representative from Hungary with the news that 17-year-old Csilla Lajtai Rózsa has become an amateur member, with a handicap of +2.7.
In line with the Ladies European Tour, there is an age requirement of 18 years to join LETAS, however special exemptions can be made for exceptional individuals and Csilla was granted membership on account of her outstanding amateur record.
Any female amateur or professional golfer can become a member of LETAS if they hold a handicap of 2 or better, although now in its fifth season, the standard on LETAS is increasing every year.
The Association Suisse de Golf Ladies Open, being played over three rounds from Friday May 2 to Sunday May 4, will be the second LETAS event in which Csilla has competed.
She previously finished in a tie for 23rd at the Azores Open in 2013 and made the cut with rounds of 72, 77 and 76, winning the prize for best amateur at nine-over-par.
“That is the plan for this week: to make the cut!” said Csilla, speaking at Golfclub Gams-Werdenberg in eastern Switzerland on Wednesday.
“It’s just a good experience for me to learn from professionals and learn how to compete in this kind of event. It’s quite different from amateur events. It’s more serious. Those girls all play for money, they play for a living.”
Csilla, pronounced ‘Chilla’ in English, or ‘Chi-Chi’ for short, was first introduced to golf at the age of eight by her TV commentator uncle, Peter Lajtai, who took her to a golf show called ‘Golfstar Gala’ in Hungary.
“I really loved it, got to hit some balls and the guy who took it told me I was gifted and that stuck in my head. I was eight so it was a big deal for me!” she continued.
“I had to wait three years, because the courses were all pretty far from us and when I was 11 a course opened 10 minutes from where we lived and the only woman coach at that time wanted to work with girls so she took me in and I started to play. After a year I decided I was going to be a pro and I took to home school the following year.”
At this point, Csilla’s handicap was still in the 20s, but it began to drop dramatically after her first trip to the United States a month before her 14th birthday where she met her coach, Tim Burnett in Jacksonville, Florida. Since then, Csilla has been visiting the United States for two to three months each year.
“I remember I was 14 when I was playing off 4 and I couldn’t get lower for months. The next year I got down to +1 and then end of last year down to +3.2,” she says.
Her victories in 2013 included the Hungarian Junior and Amateur Opens, the Harder German Junior Girls and the FCWT at Champions Gate. She was also a member of the winning Junior Vagliano Trophy team representing the Continent of Europe. She is a member of the Hungarian National Team and grateful for the support of the federation.
According to Csilla, there are just six or seven golf courses in Hungary and only five of those are 18-hole courses. She adds: “Golf in Hungary is growing. There are a lot of people trying to share the passion for golf.
“The Highland Golf Club was my first golf club for four years and just nine holes, but just outside of the city so close to everyone. They wanted to bring people and kids to the social club so they had a scholarship for a couple of kids and I was one of them.
“This year I’m going to try both LET and LPGA Q School. If I make it through and get a full card I will turn pro. If not, I’ll go to college in America.”
There has only been one winner from Eastern Europe on the Ladies European Tour: Zuzana Kamasova of Slovakia, who won the Lalla Meryem Cup in Agadir, Morocco, in 2011.
Csilla still has another year of school home study to complete before she graduates, but age is on her side in an increasingly young woman’s game.
In March, 17-year-old Charley Hull won her first professional event on the LET after representing Europe in The Solheim Cup and only last week, New Zealander Lydia Ko celebrated her 17th birthday by claiming her sixth professional title at the Swinging Skirts Classic on the LPGA.