World No.6 amateur Nobuhle Dlamini, 22, is attempting to earn her Ladies European Tour card and become the first professional woman golfer from her country. She was exempt from the Pre-Qualifiers on account of her being within the World Amateur Ranking (WAGR) top 25.
Dlamini broke into the top ten on the WAGR thanks to a stellar 2012 season that saw her win six titles. She reached world no.2 and continued her winning ways into 2013 with victories in the Eastern Cape Amateur Championship, Zwazula-Natal Championship, North West Championships, South African Stroke play, Gauteng Amateur Championship and took the individual prize in the WGSA 72-hole team championships.
She gave the LET this interview from Lalla Aicha Tour School Final Qualifying in Marrakech.
What would it mean to you to become the first professional female golfer from Swaziland?
I’ve been working hard with my golf to get up in the world and raise the flag of Swaziland. I think it would be a great achievement for myself and Swaziland as a country.
What would it mean to you to play in the Olympic Games?
It’s a big goal. To play in the Olympic Games, it would be great to compete against the best in the world, so I’m looking forward to it and I would love to do it.
Have you travelled around the world a lot?
Not a lot. I’ve played a lot in Southern Africa. I’ve played some university tournaments outside, such as the junior British Open twice and I played in a university tournament in Germany. This year I went to Scotland and played St Andrews and a few other links courses with the students’ match play.
Where are you with your studies?
I’ve just completed university and have a last exam at the beginning of the year. I was studying Sports Science and Golf Accreditation at the University of Pretoria in SA. I’ve been studying in SA since Grade 9 so I’ve been there for eight years.
Your dad Johannes helped you to start your career in golf.
My dad taught me how to play golf. He is also a professional golfer and a coach. I go to Warwick Druin for lessons.
What are your expectations for this week?
This is my first time at qualifying and I’m hoping to make it to the top so I can qualify for the LET. I quite like the courses, they are beautiful: similar layouts, just different on the greens. I think Al Maaden is a bit easier but I like them both. I’ve prepared well so I’m feeling good.
What are the strengths of your game?
The strength is distance and at the moment, pitching.
Who are your role models?
I started playing golf looking up to Tiger Woods and Erni Els and now I’m looking more closely at ladies’ golf so I’m seeing Yani Tseng and Lee-Anne Pace. I haven’t had the opportunity to play with them.
How many golfers are there in Swaziland?
There are about 350 golfers and eight scratch female players. We have nine golf courses. I play at Royal Swazi which is one of the better courses. There is another that they built six years ago which is also very nice. The others are all nine-hole courses, so there are only two 18 hole golf courses. Royal Swazi has been there since 1966 and the other courses, I’m not sure when they were built.
How did your father become a pro?
He used to work at the Royal Swazi. He did the PGA in SA and that’s when he got his teaching diploma. There was a programme that was sponsored by a company called MTN and he coached for development and got a whole group of juniors playing golf. From a young age until 18 years old.
You are doing the PGA Foundation course as well?
Yes, to be able to teach golf and do business in golf. I’ve done that. I’ve just finished. You study for a normal degree and you do the subjects over three years and have to do a certain number of hours. After you qualify you still have to go and work. You can retain your amateur status because you are basically shadowing and assisting a coach. After three years you can sign your amateur status away to turn pro. You don’t get paid and you’re learning. You also have to do practical hours, which is playing.
How many siblings do you have?
I’ve got seven siblings: three brothers and four sisters. My two younger sisters play. I think the younger one is going to be good or maybe even better than me. She is 12 and a 24 handicap as she’s just started playing.