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Mhotsha takes golfing dream to America

CALISTUS KOLANTSHO
Golf talent: Mhotsha is now playing the game in the US
Ouname Mhotsha first hit the golf ball as early as the age of seven, following in the foot- steps of her father, Godfrey, who was a golfer and used to work at the Gaborone Golf Club.

Her love for the game grew in leaps and bounds, and after packing her bags to study in the United States she did not leave her passion behind.

She now plays for the University of Arkansas team, rubbing shoulders with some fine players from the institution.

Mhotsha’s debut club competition was when she was 14 years in 2009, the year that she won her first major trophy.

Golf is considered a sport for the elite, and the equipment is pricey, but Mhotsha said she was fortunate to have supportive parents.

“I was blessed to have a strong support system. My parents were very supportive and with my father and uncle being golfers, I had people that I could talk to after a bad round of golf. When I started, the golf club had a junior development programme, which was sponsored by the First National Bank Botswana. The coaches in the programme did a great job in getting us interested in the game at a young age,” the 25-year-old said.

Mhotsha said her parents invested in her game by getting her a personal coach, Edwin Madigela.

“He moulded me and set a very strong foundation for me both technically and mentally,” she said.

Just like any other player, it was not smooth sailing for Mhotsha. She came through some challenges, which included, amongst others, being forced to play with boys and adults due to the absence of girls during competitions. She said that gave reason to soldier on and to not quit the sport.

“I decided to never give up playing this sport because I want to motivate and provide avenues for other girls in Botswana to play golf. I have been exposed to so many opportunities through golf and I would love to see other girls getting the same opportunities,” she said. Mhotsha said golf opened opportunities for her to travel and experience eight African countries and overseas countries, which besides the US include Scotland and England.

She also received scholarships to pay for her college education including the Elite Scholarship from the Botswana National Sport Commission and golf

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scholarships in the US. “I have met influential people and I have been able to build networks that I can use in my entire lifetime,” she added.

Mhotsha won her first national championship in 2010, which was the Botswana Ladies Closed and she won the same competition for the second time in 2011. She also won the Makgadikgadi Open in 2011.

She was the winner of the Orange Classic in 2010 and 2012, and also has the Southern Open, which she bagged in 2015. She stamped her authority when she won the coveted Central Open in 2014, 2015 and 2016. Mhot- sha continued her dominance when she bagged Orapa Open twice, in 2015 and 2017. She also won the Botswana Open in 2017 before leaving for the US.

“I came to the USA in 2017 to complete my Bachelors of Science in Agriculture Economics and play in the gold team at Alcorn State University, Mississippi. I graduated in December 2019. I am currently based at the University of Arkansas in Monticello doing my Masters of Science in Natural Resource Economics and also playing golf in the team,” the Siviya native said.

Mhotsha said she decided to combine her studies and golf, as she believes she can make a larger impact in the world in that way. She is still playing amateur golf but her aim is to be ready to play in the professional set up when she completes her studies in December 2021.

When asked if she would return home after completing her studies, Mhotsha said she has not decided.

“I have not decided yet but home is where my heart is, eventually I plan to come home and help with golf develop- ment and empowering young girls in Botswana. Earlier, I mentioned a junior programme that helped to identify my talent; we do not have structures anymore. I am therefore pleading with companies and organisations in Botswana to invest in golf development because it shows good social responsibility and it can have amazing returns when these athletes become internationally recognised,” Mhotsha said.



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