GRANITEVILLE, S.C. – Last November, Kristoffer Reitan signed his National Letter of Intent to play college golf for the University of Texas next fall. However, Reitan will not be heading to Austin, Texas, after all.
The 18-year-old Norwegian amateur plans to instead turn pro later this year, either after the European Team Amateur Championship in July or the U.S. Amateur in August.
“It was a very, very tough decision,” Reitan said. “I just felt like I was in a place where my level (of golf) was getting better and another four years of amateur golf wasn’t as exciting to me as it probably should’ve been. Even though amateur golf is at a more than good enough level for me, competition-wise, because I’ve played some pro events I felt like pro golf is an appropriate level for me.”
Reitan, who is playing this week’s Junior Invitational at Sage Valley, is ranked 38th in the World Amateur Golf Ranking. He is also the sixth highest-ranked Norwegian in the Official World Golf Ranking, at No. 1,053.
He has already played two Ecco Tour events in 2017, finishing second and T-18. He ranks third on that tour’s Order of Merit, and the top five at the end of the season earn Challenge Tour cards. Reitan also plans to play European Tour Q-School later this year.
“The plan is to play well, of course,” Reitan said. “It doesn’t always work out, but if it does, hopefully I’ll be on the Challenge Tour. That’s the goal.”
Reitan is following a path that many young Norwegian players take. (One exception is Reitan’s friend Viktor Hovland, who is currently at freshman at Oklahoma State.) Reitan is confident that he has the support behind him, from both people close to him and the Norwegian Golf Federation, to be able to make the jump to pro golf.
“We’ve got a great system around us with a lot of support,” Reitan said. “(The NGF) is doing a ton of great work at the junior level and they’ve stepped up their game with the support team for young pros, too.”
The most famous Norway product in golf is LPGA player Suzann Pettersen. On the men’s side, there have been few success stories on the PGA Tour. Henrik Bjornstad played a year on the PGA Tour and finished second in an event. European Tour player Espen Kofstad is the country’s current highest-ranked pro, at No. 365 in the OWGR.
Reitan is anxious to begin his pro path, with hopes of becoming Norway’s first national men’s golf star.
“I look forward to it,” Reitan said. “I have to start that career sooner or later and I feel like I’m ready at this point.”
Texas’ 2017 signing class still has two players. Christoffer Bring and Cash Carter are signed to join the Longhorns this fall. The 2018 and 2019 classes are strong, as well, with commits including Cole Hammer, Mason Nome and Will Thomson.