This young San Roque Club member is clear about what he wants to achieve in the world of golf: to play on the European Tour and, if possible, tee it up in all four majors and win at least one. Zak Karkaletsos knows what it is like to compete - and win - although at the moment only in the amateur sphere. Bit by bit…
Zac, a 19-year-old Englishman, will be studying business at the University of North Texas starting in August. His favourite hobbies - "apart from golf, of course, which I almost treat as a hobby, even though I want to be a professional" - are playing and watching football, playing ping pong with his father (“very competitive, I can’t stand losing to him at anything”) and listening to different types of music, especially The Beatles, “for which I get a lot of stick from my friends because I’m obsessed with them!”
- When and where did you start playing golf and at what age?
I started playing golf when I was six years old thanks to my dad. Shortly after I was part of the junior academy at La Quinta and that was where I started to learn more about golf and enjoy it a lot.
- When did you know you wanted to dedicate yourself to golf as a career?
Probably when I was around 12 years old, when Manuel Piñero took me under his wing - and he has taught me ever since. I will never be able to thank him enough for what he has done for me. To be able to learn from such a legendary player of the game is a privilege, and he’s given me the belief that I can have a good career in golf.
- Tell us about your golfing education…
I started playing national events when I was 13 years old, going through the different age categories. The main thing with amateur golf is experience, to learn what you do well and what you don’t do well under pressure, and to learn from your failures and successes, which gives you the foundation and knowledge for when you decide to turn pro.
- What have been your best results, your best ranking?
Well, obviously winning is always hard, no matter at what level, so I’m proud of my four regional wins in Andalucía, and I’ve also had six runner-up finishes, which propelled me to the number one junior ranking in Andalucía. Also, winning the club championship at San Roque three times in a row was a great achievement as well. On a larger scale, my best memory was the 2017 British Boys Championship, one of the most prestigious events in junior golf, where I finished ninth. The week in general was just unbelievable. It genuinely felt like you were playing the (British) Open the way the R&A set it up, and that was the moment when I realised that I could compete with the best players. It got me into the top-50 in the European junior ranking and 140th in the world junior ranking. I’m really proud of my consistency since earning my world amateur ranking, which was not easy to attain. I had to shoot 69 in the final round to gain entry, achieving 18 top-10 finishes in 36 world ranking events, with one win and only missing four cuts.
- What motivates you?
What excites me most is that I know how good I can be and I know that I have the potential to be able to do what the pros do on tour. However, I know that there’s still a long way to go and that potential by itself doesn’t mean much. There also needs to be a lot of hard work and sacrifices, and I’m focused on improving steadily to hopefully one day reach my full potential and have a good career in golf.6.- When did you join San Roque as a junior member and why did you choose San Roque?
- When did you join San Roque as a junior member and why did you choose San Roque?
I joined in summer 2015, and there were a lot reasons for doing so, but the main reason, first of all, was that San Roque has two great courses, both always in great condition. Secondly, a lot of competitions are held at the club, which is important to keep your game sharp. And, to add to that, there were a lot of talented juniors at the club, like Victor Bjorlow and Chris Steel, and it’s always great to practise with other juniors.
- How do you rate both the Old and the New Courses compared with other prestigious courses?
Well, what’s great about the two courses is that they’re both so different. The Old Course is a very strategic course where you need to be very straight from the tee and then leave the ball under the hole with your approach shots because of how tricky the greens are, really fast with a lot of slope. So to score around there you need to be in control of your ball. Meanwhile, the New Course is a more modern test, with some brilliant driving holes and some challenging par threes, and it’s a great test of ball striking. I would say both courses are already up there with the best in southern Spain. However, after hearing about plans for the re-design of the Old Course, I think it will be one of the best in Europe and I can’t wait to see what it will look like in the near future. I don’t think I should only mention the changes on the golf course, however, because the improvements they’re looking to make in the club as a whole are very exciting, such as the re-design of the practice facilities and the clubhouse. The San Roque Club will be at the top of the bucket list of any golfer and a great club to be a member of.
- What are your main aspirations as a golfer?
My main objective is to achieve full status on the European Tour for many years and have a stable career. Obviously I then have other targets such as competing in all four majors, and one day winning one would be my ultimate goal.
- What current major international stars do you most identify with, and why?
Well, my idol is and always has been Tiger Woods, without a doubt, and I don’t think there’s a golfer in the world who hasn’t wanted to be like Tiger growing up. Everything about him, from the way he carries himself on the golf course to the way he focuses under pressure, and the way he sees the game, is something any golfer can learn from, and he’s the player that I always try to learn from.