SUGAR GROVE, Ill. – Bali Beach Golf Course might only be nine holes. It might feature just one par 3 and one par 5 among seven par 4s. It might not be on any worldwide top 100 lists.
But it did produce two of the 132 golfers in this week’s NCAA Women’s Golf Championship field.
Oregon senior Marcella Pranovia and Purdue sophomore Melati Putri have a special place in their hearts for Bali Beach. They both picked up the game roughly around age 10, each inspired by their dads, and it was Bali Beach owner Dharma Wijaya who gave them a cheap place to craft their skills.
“We are fortunate enough that the owner is really passionate about junior golf,” Pranovia said. “… That’s why I’m here right now.”
Pranovia, 22, moved to Santa Ana, Calif., when she was 17 years old and attended Mater Dei High for two years. She then signed with the Ducks and played 30 events over three seasons before competing in five this season. She’s in the lineup at Rich Harvest Farms, though, after a T-9 finish at the NCAA Lubbock Regional.
Putri, 19, didn’t move to the U.S. until she signed with the Boilermakers. In two seasons, she will have competed in 17 events, including this week’s NCAA Championship, her highlight being a T-8 finish at the Landfall Tradition last fall.
While the two players attend schools roughly 2,200 miles apart, they remain close. They consider themselves best friends.
“When we meet, it’s like nothing ever changes,” Pranovia said.
When they aren’t playing golf back home, they are exploring Bali’s many beaches and eating, as Putri describes, “a lot of food.”
Their favorite dish? Balinese rice.
“It’s rice with a lot of ‘stuff,’” Putri said. “Chicken, veggies and then ‘stuff.’”
Spicy? “Can be,” Putri replies.
As for golf, it’s not exactly “on fire” in Bali. There isn’t a ton of support and most people that play golf there are either businessmen or tourists. Bali has never had a golfer play on the PGA or LPGA tours.
In the women’s college game, there are just three players from the island, Kansas sophomore Victoria Chandra being the other one.
But both Pranovia and Putri are hopeful that will change.
“We’re hoping that we can be the generation that makes it,” Pranovia said.
Of course, it’s weeks like this one in Sugar Grove that can go a long way in shaping a young golfer’s career. Pranovia and Putri are excited to get their NCAA Championships underway, and one can bet that they’ll be cheering each other on.
Just like all the days back at Bali Beach.