The Ndeipi magazine (NM) had the pleasure of chatting with a young Zimbabwean sportswoman, Danielle Bekker (DB). As the nation’s reigning Amateur Golf Champion, she shares insight into her golfing career, where it all started and what she has achieved over the years, and all the exciting possibilities for the future.
NM: Can you tell us briefly who Danielle Bekker is and how your golfing journey began?
DB: My golfing journey began 9 years ago when I was 10 at Leopard Rock Golf Course. I was watching my father and brother play, while my mom steered the golf cart. It was on one hole that my dad asked me to try a few shots with my brother’s driver. I hit a few shots that went quite well, I was not that surprised perhaps because I had no interest in the game at the time. My dad, amazed at these shots encouraged me to take it up as a sport. The story of how it all began is special to me, it shows that even though I knew very little about the sport but taking that first step and now was well worth it, especially the opportunity to travel and participate in several tournaments.
NM: How many tournaments and championships have you participated in so far?
DB: I have participated in several tournaments. In 2019 I played in 22 tournaments and this was the most I have ever played in. This year I have participated in 8 and am about to start on my 9th.
NM: In 2018 you completed a double by claiming the ZLGGU Open Strokeplay and Zambia Open titles- having achieved all of this, which tournament would you say was the most memorable for you and why?
DB: 2018 was a good year for me in golf. My most memorable win would be the ZLGU open stroke play because I played my best golf (72,75,72). My dad was my caddy that year and he was very supportive. He has caddied for me a lot over the years and we have a special bond.
NM: Golfing is regarded as one of the sports that require concentration and focus- what would you say is the most difficult part of golfing for you- and the easiest?
DB: Golf is a sport that you can have a good or bad day and it’s getting more recognition. The most difficult part for me has been maintaining mental focus, in the game throughout a tournament. I would say it’s not an easy game, there is a lot of challenges and for me, the easiest part of the game is to enjoy it. If you can enjoy it the game becomes easier
NM: As a young teenager how does it feel to be the leading representative female amateur golfer for Zimbabwe at the moment?
DB: I have been the leading amateur for 5 years and I have gained more experience in Scotland, America, and South Africa. During this time, I have played in many tournaments making new friends along the way. I always set goals to focus on and it makes me more dedicated to the sport. I am grateful that I have reached my goal of becoming the best in the country!
NM: Noting that golf requires a lot of commitment, how often do you practice and balance school and your golfing career?
DB: Being an athlete in school can be challenging. There is a need to balance school work and your golf. Golf requires a lot of practice and attention; I practice 3 times a week and, on the weekends, I try and play 18 holes on a Saturday. Keeping up with school and homework is difficult when I travel to tournaments.
NM: As a young female golfer, what challenges have you faced in the world of golf?
DB: In golf, you have a lot of challenges to overcome. For me, I was in a bad space a few years ago. I almost gave up golf because of that. My dad gave me the strength to overcome it and to get myself back in the game. He has helped me to become a better person and I am grateful for that.
NM: Apart from golf, what are your other interests?
DB: I love watching movies, reading books, and training in the gym.
NM: Which athlete or professional golfer do you look up to and why?
DB: Locally my favorite is Scott Vincent. I have played with him a few times and I find him a level-headed individual who I admire. He has won two times in the Japan golf tour. Internationally Nelly Korda because she has a great swing and a strong mental side. My goal is to make the LPGA one day.
NM: What basic tips would you give to a young person looking to pursue a career in golf?
DB: Be dedicated to the sport and do it for yourself. Most importantly, have fun!
NM: What would you say has kept you going and motivated you to continue with golf throughout all these years?
DB: My parents have motivated me to play this game from the start. last year I pushed myself to play better and at the beginning of this year I started seeing a mental coach and this has helped me a lot mentally
NM: Golf is assumed to be a sport for the elite, do you think this is true and if not, why do you say so?
DB: Golf can be for anyone. A lot of people are playing and kids are getting introduced to it. One of the things for me to see in Zimbabwe is for more juniors to play in the competitions and for them to excel.
NM: Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
DB: In the next 5 years I would be finished in university and getting ready to play in more international tournaments as an amateur until I decide to be a professional.
Images by Mark Sampson
Originally published in the 120th Ndeipi Magazine