Imagine trotting the skies from country to country, playing in world-class golf tournaments, while dining in high-end hotels, then the unexpected happens and end up in the village, as if it was just a fantasy dream.
Here, there’s no phone, no electricity, no friends. It’s just you and your mother to lean on.
This is the story of 22-year-old Naomi Wafula. The former Africa junior champion has moved from grace-to-grass, then back to grace.
“Life has given me a second chance,” said the optimistic Wafula, with a wide grin when we met at Sigona Golf Club on Monday.
The former All Africa Challenge Trophy champion has learnt the hard way.
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The 2011 SOYA Most Promising Sports Woman Of The Year Award winner said she suffered physical and emotional abuse that saw her take a break from the gentleman’s game.
Because of the pain she felt, the women’s national champion left Nairobi for Kitale to be with her mother.
While on the brink of losing hope, a church came to her rescue in 2017.
“I got saved and began rebuilding my life from there,” she told Standard Sports. A few friends came together and contributed some money, which she used to register as a member at at the par 73 Kitale Golf Club.
She begun playing golf again in 2018. While she was dreaming to get back to her glorious days in the sport, she received a phone call that changed her destiny.
It was gaming firm BetLion, who wanted to help her get back on her feet again.
Without much thought, Wafula accepted the offer. She packed her few belongings and left for Nairobi. She was ready for a new start. Back in Nairobi, she registered for the then ongoing second edition of Safari Tour golf series (2019), where she played against men.
She had an impressive one over par 73 on day one at the Naivasha leg at the Great Rift Valley Lodge and Golf Resort.
The great attempt saw her included in the national team that took part in the Ladies European Tour held at Vipingo Ridge in Mombasa last year in December.
“I was happy to have topped the charts as the best Kenyan player in Vipingo. I prayed and thanked God because I was convinced my game was getting into shape,” she said.
Wafula, who is also the 2013 Junior Golf Foundation Girl of The Year, won the Sigona Ladies Open in February, a feat that saw her qualify for the All Africa Challenge Trophy that was slated for Namibia in March.
Unfortunately, the regional event was cancelled due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
“Actually, my plan was to turn pro after the Africa championship,” she said. On Monday, Wafula became the first woman to make the cut in the Safari Tour series, now in its third year.
The fourth leg of the series is being played at the par 72 Sigona Golf Club. She achieved the feat on total two rounds of one over par 145.
“I have finally realised the target. I thank God for giving me the concentration and strength to go through the 36 holes and make the cut,” she said.
Wafula is one of the two ladies, who are competing against men in the 10-legged circuit.
Mombasa-based Bhavi Shah, who is a professional golfer, is the other female in the Safari Tour Series.
“I plan to turn professional before the end of the year,” Wafula said.
Wafula thanks Rose Naliaka for her golfing prowess.