By Cath Riley
I had the opportunity to go up to Chimanimani once again not long after the recent lockdown restrictions were lifted to do some coaching with the Chimanimani junior golfers.
This was my 4th trip to Chimanimani to work with the junior players. I first met the Chimanimani Junior Golfers in October 2015 when I was invited by Jane High. Jane had started the Matetso Stars Sport to Conservation, a sports programme for disadvantaged kids and HIV orphans living close to the Chimanimani Golf Course. The main sport, to begin with, was soccer but with the assistance from PEZA Scotland Trust, providing sports equipment (sets of clubs, balls, tees) and clothing for the players; golf was introduced. When I started with the golf programme there, some of the children had been playing for a couple of years under the watchful eye of Jane High and Tim Mudhluyi.
The kids showed promise and had some good swings despite the assortment of clubs. In no time, a few promising players were selected to compete in Provisional and National Junior tournaments. The most recent success story is that of 17-year old Trust Makanidzani, who was identified by the Zimbabwe Junior Golf Association as a promising development player. He was shortlisted and consequently qualified to play for the Zimbabwe Junior Team in the Junior All Africa Challenge that was set to be played in Cairo in March 2021. Sadly, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this tournament had to be postponed.
When Cyclone Idai hit Chimanimani, it was a major disaster for the Chimanimani community because many young golfers lost members of their family and their homes. The golf course was also severely damaged but after some hard work and help from the few golfers such as Doug van Ruit and Shane Kidd, two avid golfers who have religiously maintained and managed the course by providing their own tractors and mowers, the course is now looking good. It has 9 greens and 18 tee boxes, the bunkers have sawdust and wood shavings instead of sand (interesting to play out of), the juniors are always on hand to caddy and are good at finding lost balls. The clubhouse is not in use, but the locals and visitors have their own 19th hole under the tree on the 18th green where they can enjoy a cold beer!
So next time you are in Chimanimani take your clubs and find time for a game and there is also a reserved set for visitors interested in trying their hand at golf. Chimanimani has so much to offer with the most spectacular mountains, incredible views and awesome walks. It is well worth a visit!!
For more information about the programme and achievements of these youngsters you can click the link below:
Apart from toll gates, a few police roadblocks plus a quick pit stop at Halfway House the 415km drive was most pleasant. The roads were good, the Chimanimani road was the best of all with only a couple of minor detours for ongoing repairs due to the damage from Cyclone Idai.
Originally published in the second newsletter issue of Ndeipi