"I don't know where golf will take me, but I am willing to find out"
So, how Greek are you? Certainly your name doesn’t give that away...
My full name is Erik Leonardus Evangelos. I inherited the Greek name from a very special man, my Greek grandfather. My mother is Greek and my father is Dutch. I have been spending each and every summer and Easter in Greece for as long as I can remember. We spoke Greek before any other language. I feel Greek first and foremost, but I know my name always surprises people, assuming I am just Dutch.
Please tell us how did your journey with golf start and how old were you?
Funny enough, it was Father’s Day in 2008 in Singapore, where we were living at the time. I thought it would be a good idea to buy my dad a few sessions at a nearby golf course, to re-ignite his golf game, since he had been unable to find the time, due to lots of work and travelling. He suggested we go together. I met Gary Overy, a very distinguished Australian golf professional who was offering lessons at the Club. I bought my first batch and got hooked on the spot. I started to play every week, becoming more and more passionate. I was 9 years old.
How has your life changed since then?
In many ways. When we moved back to Dubai in 2009, my parents decided to live at the Arabian Ranches, right on the golf course. This was a critical moment, as I realised how much I enjoyed walking to and from the course daily, spending a lot of time practicing and playing. The golfing community within the club was extremely welcoming and helped me a lot to nurture my golfing etiquette, the values of discipline, persistence and determination. I think this has allowed me to mature not only as a golfer but also as a person.
What were some of your best moments since and what do they mean to you?
Every tournament, every game is special and I feel I learn something about golf itself, about others, about myself. You can tell a lot from the way players respect the rules and etiquette or behave under pressure. If I had to mention, I would go with 2012, when I became the Arabian Ranches junior Club Champion, and 2014 when I was lucky enough to win the same title.
I have also been a multiple individual medal winner and I was awarded the most improved player title in 2013/2014 by the Emirates federation. I was also voted as best Young Expatriate Player of the Year for the Middle East by the Middle East Golf Awards. I know my mum asked every Greek person to vote for me, so I am not sure if this was a fair win!
What are your dreams for the future? Do you think golf will play a big role in it?
I am just 16 years old and I am not entirely sure yet about where I would like to study or live. Golf will continue to play a key role in my future life, and I will just wait to see where it will take me. I have been working towards a possible scholarship to the U.S. but I try not to overreact and just be myself, stay focussed and continue to do my best. I don’t want others to think that in order to do well in school or in sports, you must deprive yourself from everything and be different in a loud way. You can be normal, have fun but you must give your absolute best self when circumstances ask you to. You can be different in your own personal and quiet way.
Do you have anything else to say to Greek children and teenagers who know nothing about golf?
Yes, I would say, go and try your luck! Greece has some amazing golf courses, the weather is always ideal and it is a great experience. I remember when I invited my Greek grandparents to come and watch me play. They had never been on a golf course before but they quickly loved the nature around and after feeling the energy of the game, they simply loved it. Golf is becoming an Olympic sport soon, so you never know, it may well be an opportunity of a lifetime. I am certainly thinking about it...