In her dad's steps
WHEN she was a little girl Nobuhle Dlamini trudged behind her father on the golf course - mainly so that she could venture into the water hazards to fish out the balls he'd hit there with his wayward drives.
Johannes Dlamini was not a wealthy golfer so he couldn't afford to surrender an expensive ball to the water traps - and Nobuhle didn't mind getting her feet, and much else, wet to keep her father on course.
Then, when she turned 12, he decided she needed to start hitting balls instead of searching for them.
Now, at the age of 20, she is the South African women's champion.
Nobuhle won the South African women's amateur strokeplay title by an amazing 10 shots, beating some of the best women golfers in the country last week at Umhlali Country Club near Durban.
She believes her father's lessons sparked a deeper interest in the game.
"He taught me how to play and I took it seriously from then onwards," she says.
Her growing love for the game was not even put off by the courses she learnt on. These were challenging and rough, but it probably toughened her too.
The little girl from Lobamba in Swaziland is now hoping to put her village on the world golfing map.
She hopes to do this by turning pro and playing on the tough LPGA Tour.
The LPGA is where the best women golfers in the world compete. It's held mainly in the US, but the last time an American won Player of the Year was in Beth Daniel in 1994. Since then a Swede, Australia, Briton, Mexican and Taiwanese have dominated. So why not a Swazi in the near future?
Dlamini's amateur achievements have been limited to South Africa, but her victory in the national strokeplay championship this week on the KwaZulu-Natal North Coast revealed not only an ability to triumph over conditions but also just how far ahead she is of the other top women amateurs.
The wind at Umhlali flummoxed all of the women, but not Dlamini who had rounds of 70-69-73 and she was the only one to break par.
Her accuracy on the fairway, finesse around the greens and near-flawless putting have combined to make her a star, but her coach Llewellyn van Leeuwen believes she also has the edge in natural strength.