It is said that enough hard work beats talent but a combination of talent and hard work is the recipe for a masterpiece. Such is the case with Yolanda Mubaiwa a 21 year-old, talented and humble lady. She started learning golf when she was just fourteen under a program called Hatcliffe Girls Development Trust (HGDT) run by the Zimbabwe Ladies Golf Union (ZLGU) in partnership with Old Mutual. Since then she has dropped her handicap to three, making her the top amateur lady golfer in the country.
The HGDT program was the brainchild of the then ZLGU president Jessie Nyakatawa who is now a board member in the Sports and Recreation Commission and professional golfer. The HGDT initiative has developed golf at the grass roots level targeting high school teenagers in Hatcliffe. All this progress was made on a shoe string budget. With enough sponsorship the HGDT initiative could give Zimbabwe the best golfers it has ever had.
Soon Mubaiwa will be turning pro though she has done a lot already and has the silverware to prove it. She has won over the years three local tournaments and an international tournament in the 1st half of this year. The local tournaments were the Mashonaland East-West Stroke Play, the Matebeleland Stroke Play, Interprovincial and an international tournament in Nigeria called the IBB Ladies Open which has been the biggest highlight of her career thus far.
She is well travelled within and outside our borders, representing Harare and the pride of the nation. She has played in Nigeria, Botswana, South Africa, Zambia and Kenya, the latter giving her the chance to play the Muthaiga golf course that became her favourite golf course internationally, while Royal Golf Club will always have a place in her heart as her favourite local golf course.
In 2009, in recognition of her hard work and talent, Royal Golf Club awarded Mubaiwa with a membership after just three years of playing the game. It will run until she turns 25 and gives her the opportunity to develop her skills on the finest course in the country.
Having Tiger Woods as a role model influenced her aspirations. “I aspire to turn pro and play in Sanlam Tournament in South Africa and all the PGA tours,” said Mubaiwa. This is surely an attainable ambition considering turning pro is just months away.
Mubaiwa has had assistance along the way and she is grateful for all the help she has received. “I would not have made it this far had it not been for Old Mutual, Jessie Nyakatawa, Julius Kalimazeni, Nick Price Junior Golf Foundation, Nancy Dube, Royal Golf Club, former mayor Muchadei Masunda and my family for supporting me throughout,” said Mubaiwa.
In terms of challenges, Mubaiwa cites funding for travel and accommodation at tournaments in and outside Zimbabwe as the biggest ones. She has had to miss out several prestigious tournaments due to the unavailability of sponsorship that caters for her needs.
Professional golfer Jessie Nyakatawa says sponsorship fatigue is a major drawback in our country. “There are few willing to sponsor golf in Zimbabwe from grassroots level so young golfers are not able to reach their full potential,” she said. Nyakatawa went on to applaud former mayor Masunda for being very supportive of the progam from the beginning and called upon new potential sponsors to support this initiative.