BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE
ONE of the country’s most celebrated black professional golfers Tongoona “TC” Charamba is excited to have another chance to transform local golf after he was elected the Zimbabwe Professional Golfers’ Association (ZPGA) president a fortnight ago.
The 38-year-old golfer takes over from television personality Gary Thompson and has a difficult task of taking forward an already troubled professional sport in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“It’s a second calling for one and the same reasons to clean up and sort out issues that have always wrecked the growth and development of the PGA. So yes, it’s exciting and at the same time challenging to have the trust of the membership to steer the ship again,” he said.
Charamba became just the third black golfer to win on the Sunshine Tour circuit after clinching the SAA Pro-Am Invitational at Kempton Park Golf Club in 2006.
He has two Sunshine Tour titles in his cabinet after also scooping the Namibia PGA Championship in an impressive season in which he went on to finish a career-best 27th on the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit Standings in 2008.
Charamba, who also held the same position between 2011 and 2014, revealed his team’s short and long-term goals this time around.
“The idea in the immediate is to engage corporate partners to help us in the restructuring and reengagement with that sector. For the future, we want to develop and evolve the professional golf sector, to differentiate playing and teaching golfers, get events to play in locally and projects for the association to assist non-playing members,” Charamba said.
Most of the local professional golfers have failed to earn a living from the sport due to lack of adequate tournaments as well as lack of sponsorship to compete in tournaments outside the country.
The Covid-19 outbreak has also exposed local professionals who have suffered without competitions or any other form of financial assistance.
“Covid-19 made us realise our profession needs more than just playing to sustain a living and that was the biggest lesson we learnt. It has been a very difficult period as a majority of us exhausted their savings just to keep pushing,” Charamba said.
Two of the country’s top professional competitions, the Zimbabwe Open and the National Aids Council (NAC) Pro-Am, could not be held due to the prevailing circumstances.
The ZPGA is looking to have at least a tournament before the year ends.