When top female amateur golfer Batsirai Tilowakuti started playing golf as an unobtrusive 14-year- old six years ago, little did she know that she would one day tee her way into stardom in that domain.
By Munyaradzi Madzokere
Today she is the number one ranked Zimbabwe female amateur golfer, harbouring just but one dream, to turn professional in the sport that she is immensely passionate about.
Currently playing the best golf of her promising career, Tilowakuti has plundered three individual titles so far this year, the big one being the Kenya Open she won in June.
“This has been the best year in my golf career so far because I finally won my first international tournament, the Kenya Open, and I also finished in the top 10 at the Regional All Africa Championships held in Pretoria in May, although Zimbabwe finished fourth out of six countries that participated ,” beamed the 20-year-old athlete.
Tilowakuti was however quick to point out how she feels about turning professional.
“Honestly, my immediate dream and target is turning pro, barring financial constraints. I had targeted June this year but things did not turn out the way I planned. Sponsorship is proving hard to get and right now I am working hard to raise money and hopefully I will realise that dream soon,” she said.
She also added that it was not easy being a professional golfer in Zimbabwe because the country does not have any professional tournaments, and one has to travel and compete at tournaments outside the country, mainly in South Africa.
Born on October 28 1992, the Borrowdale Brooke Golf and Country Club golfer began her career as a Form Two student at Hatcliffe High School when Zimbabwe Ladies Golf Union member Jessy Nyakatawa embarked on a project to identify and nurture young girls who were interested in the sport.
Luckily for her, she quickly fell in love with the sport and grew in leaps and bounds to become who she is today, with no less than 15 trophies at junior and senior level.
“I remember when we started with Aunty Jessy, we were quite a big number and many have dropped out for different reasons, only five of us remain and I’m happy for Yolanda Mubaiwa and Shamiso Makwara, who are also doing very well for themselves as they are both ranked in the top five,” reflected Tilowakuti
Tilowakuti paid tribute to Nya-katawa and acting Zimbabwe Ladies Golf president Nancy Dube, who she said have been of great assistance to her progress.
She rates her second place finish at the Zimbabwe Ladies Golf Union Open won by Tanzanian Angel Eaton in Borrowdale Brooke a couple of months ago as her biggest disappointment in her career so far.
“The Zim Open was a huge disappointment because I was playing at home, being the favourite I was leading on the final day and on the 10th hole I had a serious bust-up with Angel [Eaton]’s caddie and that incident threw off my game and eventually I lost the match, I really let myself down,” she pondered ruefully.
Tilowakuti had lived in the shadow of Claire Minter who had dominated ladies golf for quite a while, and assumed reign when Minter retired from the sport two years ago.
The Kenya Open champion will be the overwhelming favourite when the last tournament on the ZLGU calendar, the Wingate Matchplay tees off next month.